Throat Clenching up when attempting to play

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by AfterTheAscension, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. AfterTheAscension

    AfterTheAscension New Friend

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    Mar 20, 2014
    Hello, everyone!


    I'm having an issue where my throat is painfully clenching up whenever I play my trumpet. For some backing information:


    It's been a while since I've been serious about playing trumpet. I recently changed schools (I'm fourteen) and the band at my new school blows the last one out of the water, so much so that I made the extremely difficult descision to stop playing in the band. I recently have started playing trumpet again, as I will be using it in my Symphonic Death Metal band soon.


    Here's the thing. Whenever I play, anything above an Eflat causes my throat to clench up to the point of hurting. I don't know what to do about it, I somehow stopped it from happening back when I was playing in school, I need help in getting this to stop


    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to TM, AfterTheAscension!

    We'll need some more data before any of us can make anything close to reasonable suggestions. How recently have you picked up the trumpet again, and after how much time off? How often do you practice, and for how long? Before you stopped playing, how often and how long did the band meet? How much practice were you adding to that?

    With more info we can better help you, but don't be surprised if you get a bunch of tried and true responses, like long tones, scales etc. as well as putting in some serious time.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

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    While I thoroughly approve of VB's comments - after all, he is a trumpet God - I have a suspicion that you have been overdoing things not only lately, but for some time. Possibly the challenge to succeed in your new school band drove you to play harder than was really necessary or healthy, so after a period of stopping altogether, you're now feeling the combined effects. So my advice would be to go it slowly, start playing afresh and don't rush on your way up the stave. High range will come automatically, if you really master the lower ranges.
    At any rate - good on you for not being disheartened and starting afresh! Keep it up, mate!
     
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Don't blame it on the Eb. It sounds like you are valsalva-ing.

    This is what he is doing:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmWKDjzf9ps

    Don't do this! It could lead to a herniated disc or a tumor... a tumor really? So don't play like you're having a bowel movement; unless that is the movement you are playing at the end of a symphonic piece and as the audience applauds, you take a bowel!

    By the way, welcome to TM, where as you can see, I am totally serious with my advice.
     
  5. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    If he/she doesn't "get" your humor, it'll sound like crappy advice. :roll: Hmm, Death Metal trumpet.
     
  6. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi ATA,
    Your situation is quite common among beginning trumpet players. It is the result of not having a good foundation from the get go. While it would be easy to pick apart the nuances and waste time, allow me to direct you toward some documents (that you can print out for free!!) that can be found on this site:
    Arguablly the most important factor to brass playing is the use of air. We often blow and force the air when this is patently incorrect. To learn how you should use your air, see Rowuk's Circle of Breath
    Once a person gets the hang of how to NOT FORCE THE AIR, then comes the question of mechanics. The Basics Sheet will assist you in the basics that should have been taught when you started but were not(don't feel bad, most kids are not taught correct basics in our schools).
    Once you get your air down and have the mechanics, then the question becomes "How do I not squeeze my abdomen to get the power needed to play?" That's where VB's Ray of Power. This really works and not to be taken lightly.
    --
    Now for the problem:
    This is a lot of stuff. The air lesson is pretty simple so the most important layer of this three part lesson shouldn't be that much of a big deal to learn if you focus. Remember, air is the most important thing to master.
    The Basics Sheet. Do use a mirror when you practice. Look for the things that the sheet describes so you can become your own teacher and correct the things that you are doing wrong.
    When you feel the force necessary to play coming from your abdomen and your face is going red from the tension, use VB Ray of Power.
    Here's the thing. If you seriously apply the information that's being offered to you (even if it's just 10-15 minutes a day), you will be a greatly improved trumpeter by the time Summer gets here. Heck, some of the stuff will help you the first week.
    The neck thingy is the result of tensing up and blowing too hard. Make sure to blow soft and don't flex your neck muscles. Play the C major scale and use a mirror to monitor yourself so you will learn to not do that.
    Dr.Mark
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    It is simply a bad habit in need of destruction. Part of my daily routine is long tones and lipslurs with simple inhale/exhale - no articulation and no HA to get the sound started.

    Bad habits like this are one of the main reasons that "flow studies" have gained so much traction in the trumpet world. Instead of solving the real problem, the player reduces articulation while playing and the musical message is watered down even more!
     
  8. AfterTheAscension

    AfterTheAscension New Friend

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    Mar 20, 2014
    I'm speaking of the Eb on the line - not high range by any means. High notes are simply impossible when I used to hit them just fine.
     
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    ATA, if your choke point is the bottom line Eb, then the fault may be in the instrument--could it be your valves aren't properly seated or in the wrong casings. In the meantime, please describe your current practice schedule and regimen.
     
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi ATA,
    you stated:
    "I'm speaking of the Eb on the line"
    ---
    Clean your horn AND mouthpiece, then check out the documents suggested.
    Dr.Mark
     

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