Thoughts on my daily routine

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Starkly, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. Starkly

    Starkly New Friend

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    Thank you, Sethoflagos. That will come in handy.

    I want to make sure that I'm understanding the documents correctly. (The Basics Sheet I understand. I will think about those questions when I practice later.)

    Breathing Circle - essentially all this is is to breathe in a circular fashion, from the left of the abs to the chest, to the chest, to the right of the abs, and so on?

    Ray of Power - when you're playing, imagine your air as being a concentrated laser beam shooting downwards to the ground? And this will somehow make all the right muscles come into play?
     
  2. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

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    NO. The Circle of Breath is how the inspiration relates to the expiration, imagine with empty lungs the bottom of a circle, as you breath in you are going up the left hand side, when you reach the top immediately start the airflow into the horn and go down the right hand side. This must be done with minimum tension.

    Compare this with breathing in a square, a sharp intake of air, holding it then expelling with force, holding until the next inspiration, produces tension.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards, Stuart.
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Starkly, for what it's worth, and this might be roundly criticized by others, from my point of view I didn't really make the biggest strides in my abilities with the horn with any particular prescribed routine, or delving into certain philosophies about breathing or anything like that. Those things might be good ways to streamline your progress and they might not - if you are currently working with a teacher, maybe.

    In my experience, I had two points in my life where I improved a lot in a relatively short period of time. The first stretch was the latter half of my 8th grade year and my freshman year of high school. My folks finally got me off of the beat up King cornet I started on and put a pretty solid Yamaha pro-level trumpet in my hands (I think it was a YTR 739-T) and it really inspired me to play - maybe not to "practice" per se, but I really dug playing. As a freshman, my daily routine looked something like this:

    7:45 - 8:15: arrive at school and head directly to the band room to warm up for band - doodling and noodling ensued.
    8:15 - 9:05: Concert band rehearsal
    Noonish - quick lunch after 5th period, and then right back up to the band room to play some more!
    12:30ish to ???? - (don't remember the times) every other day was Jazz band rehearsal - it was split with Show Choir rehearsal and I was in both.
    3:15 - school's out! Back to the band room to play some more!
    Tuesday/Thursday/Friday - not sure which nights were game days, but we did a lot of pep bands during volleyball and basketball seasons.

    At times I'd take my horn home to practice, but the bottom line was I was spending hours a day with the horn in my hands and the mouthpiece on my lips. I did develop some bad habits, but overall my technique grew, simply because playing was becoming second nature and I was playing harder music. Eventually I worked in some Arban's and Clarke, and worked hard on contest solos, but that first year of high school I improved by leaps and bounds.

    The second period of improvement for me came during my first year at my first Army band assignment. At that point, I really didn't have much to pull my focus away from the horn, and I was fortunate enough to get into a great band with a lot of fine musicians, so it really pushed me to improve to come up to that level. By this point I was working on better things in the practice room, but I attribute the improvement to spending a lot of bulk time behind the horn, all while playing with other fine players. It's one of the reasons I always advocate finding a performance outlet if you don't already have one - the pressure of performing pushes you in a way that won't always happen in the practice room, and at that point, I was performing A LOT.
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Starkly, my Circle of Breath involves the following:

    1) preparing the body-without proper stance and posture, we cannot freely inhale. Yoga teaches us how to "open up", to make our upper body big but relaxed so that air can freely flow in with minimal compression. The inhale should not need to make our rib cage expand, the shoulders move or cause a radical movement of our lower torso, we are big and simply get bigger.

    2) breathe in and out like a circle - the left side of the circle is inhale, the right side, exhale. at the top and bottom of the circle, we transition from inhale to exhale smoothly, no additional tensioning of the abs. This also applies to the transition between exhale and inhale too.

    3) once we have learned to fill up with little compression, we explore ways to make the circle bigger-more air without increasing body tension.

    4) when the breathing is good, we replace exhale with play-resisting the urge to add compression! Play means on the exhale with no tonguing to exhale long tones. This is often not so easy because most trumpet players need pressure from the tongue to jump start the lips. The circle of breath requires the lips to start vibrating at the top of the circle with no additional compression from the tongue!

    5) once that we are relaxed and practiced enough, we replace long tones at the top of the circle with lip slurs - still no tongue to get the sound started. This step normally is reached 4-6 weeks after starting lessons with me.

    6) once we have the circle pattern committed to habit (3-5000 repetitions), we add articulation at the top of the circle exactly at the point where we transition from inhale to exhale - and as little tongue as possible. If our lips start on their own, we only need articulation to shape the form of the note - like when speaking.

    I had an operation on a torn diaphragm in February. Step 6) is still not working for me yet. The transition from in- to exhale is not reliable enough to perfectly place the articulation. Keep in mind, I did this 30 years correctly, but the change in the diaphragm and reorganization of the stomach and intestines has upset the balance.

    That is it - big, relaxed, low compression, no thinking about diaphragm or abs. The best way to experience this is to try it after a 20 minute hot shower.
     
  5. Starkly

    Starkly New Friend

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    I play for an hour+ every day during school in the orchestra and band, and then about an hour after school. However this summer I'm only taking one class and am involved in an ensemble that meets only once a week. Therefore, I've been trying to practice 10-15 minutes around 3:30 PM and anywhere from 45-90 minutes (usually just around an hour..) at around 7. I have also started really playing exercises, and concentrating on intonation, tone, precision, etc. In the previous years it seemed that the exercises I did play were done hastily and mindlessly. I have noticed a warmness coming through in my tone and I think I'm correct in attributing it to my concentration during the exercises.

    Just to clarify, I'm a high school sophomore.
     
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    That's a nice post by Rowuk - lots of good takeaways there and some things I'll look at in my own playing.

    You sound like a pretty typical HS kid these days - my kids were constantly on the go, and they weren't involved in that many extracurricular activities. For the kids who are, I don't know how they manage it.

    I'd say that your tone is probably improving naturally, but your concentration in your exercises will definitely improve your overall focus.

    I've found over the years that when I'm stressed out and have a lot on my mind in general, unless I can clear the slate in my head and really get focused on the music, my playing suffers. All of the mechanics are there, but I miss things I wouldn't normally miss, and my accuracy takes a bit of a hit. Granted, it's still good enough to get me through the gig, but it can mean the difference between having a good night on the horn, and having an off night on the horn, regardless of the kind of time I'm putting into the practice room.

    Bringing that back to what Rowuk posted about, I'm going to actually work on the circle of breath and see if that can help because I think it would have a positive effect both mentally and physically. I think the mental errors are what they are, but the accuracy issues are likely due to added body stress brought on by added mental stress. Some might call it mumbo-jumbo, but it makes sense, and I've long believed that even little things can have an impact on how I play - even what I eat and drink the day before.
     
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Nope. the air flows automatically. The ray is imagined. You can blow a relaxed stream of air through your lips and note how it changes when imagining the ray.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I have discovered with my students that start with me BEFORE puberty, that because they are playing sensible monitored stuff, they seem to improve with body size. There are several reasons for this. Relaxed breathing is LEARNED and the bigger the ribcage, the bigger the Circle in the Circle of Breath. In addition, during puberty children/young adults develop what I call consequential thinking. They start to recognize that they can "influence/manipulate" the outcome of any event by their actions. We all know about the stories of dads wound around their daughters little fingers.... This also applies to getting 1st chair in band by playing well and chumming up to the band director. It also applies to playing. If we have good habits (defined by me to be aspects of our playing with at least 1000-5000 repetitions), then consequential thinking can take us to the next level as we know what "beautiful" is and can do something about it.

    Warmness of tone is generally a sign that we are not "concentrating" more, rather have enough routine (probably developed by concentrated practice) to "let go". Playing with abandon is a function of having the mechanics so ready for delivery that we can let the music flow instead of having to MAKING IT HAPPEN. It is the difference between delivering a message or only hitting the notes. After warmness, the next step is natural vibrato.

    In my world, we practice to free ourselves of all things mortal. Sometimes this route is more hell than heaven. If we stick to the established principles, the small steps ARE there to keep us motivated and moving forward.
     
  9. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi Starkly,
    You stated(in bold):
    I want to make sure that I'm understanding the documents correctly. (The Basics Sheet I understand. I will think about those questions when I practice later.)
    ----
    This is a document that allows you to be your own teacher. However, a mirror must be used in order to watch yourself. You'd be amazed how many people lift up their shoulders, turn red, slump (generalized poor posture), take a deep breath and then hold it before they play, and a host of other things. The mirror is the key! Be sure to use one.
    ----
    Breathing Circle - essentially all this is is to breathe in a circular fashion, from the left of the abs to the chest, to the chest, to the right of the abs, and so on?
    ----
    The Circle of Breath (not to be confused with circular or circle breathing) has been discussed already by rowuk. The only two things I'd add are:
    1. Is there an audible compressed "puff" of air given off when you finish a passage or song?
    2. When you play, notice your tongue. Is it loose, flexible and quick or is it stiff and rigid? If it's stiff, then the articulations will be jagged and it's a sign that you are tightening up and forcing the air. Don't force the air. The tongue is the canary in the cave and it will let you know when you're doing this when you yourself don't realize it.
    ----
    Ray of Power - when you're playing, imagine your air as being a concentrated laser beam shooting downwards to the ground? And this will somehow make all the right muscles come into play?
    ----
    VB is the best advocate of this. This much I do know. there are too many things (muscles, tendons, organs, blood flow, psychology) to monitor each. It would be maddening to try.
    Correct me if I'm incorrect VB
    Starkly, you know how you use your stomach muscles to play? Try this, the next time you are playing, "GENTLY" transfer that effort to the area between the legs (perenium). It's also called the "taint" It taint your pee pee and it taint your butthole. It's the area between the two. Notice how much more relaxed your playing becomes. many will tell you that you must build your stomach muscles and it's all about force. That is wrong, wrong, wrong. Trumpet is more like being an opera singer or a yoga nut. It's about control over the temptation to use force and excessive effort to get the job done.
    ----
    Hope this helps
    Dr.Mark
     
  10. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    Breathing is so important that I had a half-day master class which taught the coordination between filling with air and planting the mouthpiece to take advantage of the stored energy to play long tones with a nice tone, in a relaxed manner. The coordination has to be re-established, maintained, and refined everyday. the process sounds similar to the circle of breath.

    Rowuk, you might have mentioned this in another post, but, is there the possibility of the formation of adhesions restricting expansion anywhere when inhaling?

    BB
     

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