Throat problems

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by TrumpetsAreFun, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. TrumpetsAreFun

    TrumpetsAreFun Pianissimo User

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    Aug 28, 2005
    California
    Hey Manny, it's me again Theodore Andrew Fetchins, TAF. I have a problem with my throat tightening up when I play higher. I'm playing 1st trumpet for a marching band song called The Footlifter and we're doing it for Tri City band day (This tuesday for Nov. 15). The music is pretty easy to me, I can hit the notes. IT just goes up to G above the staff, but when I play it (there is this phrase where i hold the g for about 6 beats) I can but my throat tightens up so much air doesn't seem to sustain the note. Do you know anyway i can get my throat to open when playing higher? Having these problems makes me feel unmotivated to practice, and when i don't practice, you know what happens :x
     
  2. W Scott

    W Scott Piano User

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    Dec 8, 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    Well, I'm not Manny---but I do know 'Footlifter'. It's one of my favorite pieces in the community band I play with.

    To relax your throat, you've got to have several things working for you. Your chops have to be strong enough, your air support good enough (think diaphragm) and the air flow big enough to hit those notes.

    The age old mantra for gaining those things is:

    Long tones---especially scales. Buy and use the Pares scales book.

    Lip slurs--up to and including the octave slurs.

    Play high notes---and keep working on pushing the envelope while conciously trying to relax and play. This is where playing soft helps.

    Time---be patient. This is something that might take weeks---or months.

    Be confident that you can do this. I used to have a miserable range in high school. A 'D' at the top of the staff was all I could do while straining. When I started to comeback, that was about all that I had as well. I decided to do something about it and thanks to sticking to the basics I'm solid up to about F over high C---not the stratosphere, but it meets the needs of just about anything I'm going to meet.

    Just my two cents worth.....

    Bill
     
  3. TrumpetsAreFun

    TrumpetsAreFun Pianissimo User

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    Aug 28, 2005
    California
    I see. Well.. I don't money to get the book you mentioned as I don't have any money or a job yet. And I don't think i can play Piano. You know that phrase on the 3rd and 4th staff after the Fortissimo you play Piano.. I can't play piano! When I try the notes sound really dirty.
     
  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Sep 29, 2004
    USA
    Theodore,

    I want you go grab your mouthpiece and play the piece you're talking about (sorry, I don't know it).

    Play through as much of the piece as you can with just the mouthpiece and the trick is you must play it absolutely, unequivocally in tune. Try this every day for a week and let me know next Sunday how it goes for you.

    ML
     
  5. TrumpetsAreFun

    TrumpetsAreFun Pianissimo User

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    Aug 28, 2005
    California
    sure Manny..

    :dontknow:
     
  6. TrumpetsAreFun

    TrumpetsAreFun Pianissimo User

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    Aug 28, 2005
    California
    So... what is buzzing the song supposed to do?
     
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous Forte User

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    Oct 21, 2003
    I've been visuallizing shooting darts out of the bell onto a target about 5 feet infront of my horn lately, and it's doing a lot for me! Intonation is better, I'm more relaxed, the sound is more present. It's great.
     
  8. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Sep 29, 2004
    USA
    TAF,

    Well, hold on a sec.

    Did you do EXACTLY as I asked or sorta kinda?

    ML
     
  9. TrumpetsAreFun

    TrumpetsAreFun Pianissimo User

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    Aug 28, 2005
    California
    um....i did do what u asked... i just kinda did not do it for 2 of the 7 days
     
  10. John Mohan

    John Mohan Pianissimo User

    128
    5
    Aug 11, 2004
    Chicago
    Hi there,

    I'm not Manny either, but I had this same problem when I was a young struggling player. I would choke off on the higher notes. It feels like straining, maybe grunting, and/or like your throat is closing off, yes? The tone diminishes to the level of an embarrassing "wish-I-hadn't-even-tried" note, or just disappears altogether. This can sure feel frustrating - it used to drive me crazy! With time, my problem with this phenomenon worked itself out through normal routine practice of flexibility exercises and other normal developmental practice exercises and routines.

    What is most likely to be happening is that you are raising the back of your tongue and cutting off your air. This is what happens when we grunt or strain. Once developed, this is a hard habit to break! I know because I remember it well. You need to learn to relax the area at the top of your throat (meaning the back area of your tongue).

    Here's some ideas that might help you to break this habit:

    1) Manny's suggestion is a good one. Sometimes getting away from the trumpet can help you to get away from the problem. If you gain the knack of being able to reproduce the song on the mouthpiece, there is a very good chance you'll find you can then play it on the horn.

    2) As you play into the higher register, your tongue needs to arch, but make sure it is the front to middle portion of your tongue arching upward and forward in your mouth - you do NOT want to move the middle to back area of your tongue up and backward in your mouth. The correct position of the tongue (in general) for upper register notes is when your tongue is in the position for the word "sea". Say the word "sea" and notice the position of your tongue (up and forward in your mouth). Now try whistling: Whistle from a low note up to a higher note and notice the way your tongue moves up and forward. Now buzz your mouthpiece and buzz upward (like a siren). Notice that your tongue moves the same way - up and forward as you buzz higher. Now play a low F# on your trumpet (with all three valves down) and slur upward to higher notes while keeping the three valves down. Notice the way your tongue moves.

    Make up exercises where you start on low notes and slur up toward high notes without changing the valve position. Do these exercises on just the mouthpiece as well (normally I don't advocate mouthpiece practice, but this situation is an exception). Think "eee" as you go up, and think "heee" as you get near to the notes that give you trouble. Don't keep trying to get all the way up to the "trouble notes" at first!!! This is very important! If you just keep trying to do what you cannot do yet, you will only reinforce the bad choking off habit! If G above middle C gives you trouble, then only slur up to middle C for a few days. Then try slurring up to the E above middle C (and think "hee" as you go for that E above middle C).

    3) Always take full breaths when playing, especially when higher notes are coming up in the phrase you are about to play. Never go for higher notes without plenty of air. And blow stronger on the higher notes. Until you get the feel of those note that are giving your trouble, don't hold back when you go for them. Blow! Once you get the notes with consistency, then it will be time to develop the ability to play them softer.

    I hope these ideas help you. They are the ideas that helped me get rid of this particular problem.

    Best wishes,

    John Mohan
    to learn about my years studying with Claude Gordon, and the results of those years of studying with him, click on the following URL:
    http://mattgraves.netfirms.com/john_mohan.htm
     

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