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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by daniel117, Aug 9, 2012.
Don't ya just love it when the Moderators are away on summer break! Tone Fight!!
Lets look at it like this then.... Picture you just taught a 6 year old to ride a bike. He can ride the bike, but not very well because it is actualy far to big for him. The poor kid can barely touch the pettles or hold the handles right so he keeps falling and hurting himself because of his small body.
Now some olympic level bike rider comes along, who happened to find the right size bike the first time and have naturaly long legs from the start. He tells the kid "you arn't working hard enough. You need to practice more so you don't fall and hurt yourself, your obviously doing something wrong, because big bikes don't bother me at all, they never have!" So the kid keeps trying on the huge bike and keeps trying to get it right but can't seem to master the pro-level huge bike. The pro keeps saying "your still not practicing enough!".
Now his neighbor comes along and says "hey why dont you just use a smaller bike and later when you devolope more, you can use the big monster! haha" and the pro walks over, hits him in the face and tells him he's a idiot and hes wrong....
This sure sounds like what your trying to do.... why not let him play something more suited for HIS LESSDEVOLOPED mouth. Daniels bike is too big.
This is true and good advice, but it doesn't help the OP right this instant. A different mouthpiece may or may not help him right now, before he manages to permanently injure himself.
I suppose the best thing would be to try to find a way to just play less if possible - move down and play 2nd or 3rd trumpet, take things down octaves, etc.
Yea! lets hear it for short cuts,quick fixes and doing things wrong. So remember if you're having problems it's not you,it" your equipment!
Trumpeterjake if you think his embouchure isn't developed enough for his regular mouthpiece,what makes you think it's developed enough for screamer piece.You're right I don't have a video camera watching him march.So when he says he never had a problem with his mouthpiece before marching band ,I should have known the trouble was with his mouthpiece and not the way he is playing in marching band..So who's going to be the safari leader?
If his chops are all of a sudden getting beat up ,his mouthpiece didn't change,he changed the way he's playing it,and will continue to play that way on a new piece until the next safari.The problem will never be resolved.
Fact is that he's likely to hurt himself or mess his chops up for a long time if he keeps doing what he's doing. It sounds like your advice to him is "fix your embouchure". While that IS the correct long-term solution, it's easier said than done, and it's not going to happen overnight given the OP's current situation.
I should have clarified maybe, I wasn't preaching for him to use some tiny 6a4a or bobby shew lead or something. I am saying maybe a smaller piece would be better for him to use as a full time piece. His lips arn't ready for a big piece like that. But I do agree with you on one thing, I don't think it should be used as a crutch and practicing basics in all areas would also be needed. I think you would agree that a beginner wouldn't want to start on something like a bach 1c megatone. Unless you have to or you are a strong enough player to use one, huge pieces or tiny little ones arn't a good start. I made that same bad choice awile back. But with a lot of help wised up and changed to something that fit my mouth better.
I'm not going to bother quoting everyone, and I'm not touching the egotistical personal attacks with a 10-ft pole.
The student says himself he's been playing the original mouthpiece for THREE YEARS! If the mouthpiece were doing the harm, he would have trashed his chops about 34 months ago. You don't go from playing a mouthpiece successfully for three years (and he also mentioned being a senior, so he's done marching season before), to utter exhaustion overnight because something magical happened to the mouthpiece and it started cutting into his chops differently last week than it has for the last 156 weeks.
Now, what did change last week was the start of band camp. What starts at band camp that the majority of high school players have not been doing in 8-9 months? Marching. Marching and playing. Playing for more hours in a day than most of them practiced in a week over the summer. Oh, and public notice and attention on their ability and how well they can play, meaning EGO comes into the picture. It doesn't have to be arrogant ego, it just has to be that niggling thought that, "I have to hit that High D every time or my director or my section mates will think I don't deserve to be here" ego that can drive the student to push too hard, play too loud, and use crutches like pressure to "make it work" in the short term, but lead to breakdown very quickly. His mouthpiece didn't change a week ago, but I would lay a large sum of money on the idea that how he was using that mouthpiece did (endurance while sitting is NOT and never has been the same as endurance on the marching field).
Now some of you might say if he's done marching before, then it shouldn't be a problem now. But marching fundamentals, just like playing fundamentals, are frangible. They go away when not used. We wouldn't expect someone to be able to double-tongue cleanly if they didn't practice it for 9 months. We wouldn't expect someone to be able to play a strong, clear, and in tune High D if they hadn't played one for 8 months. So we shouldn't expect that our marching fundamentals are sufficient to protect our chops from abuse if we don't do them for 8-9 months either. The nice thing is that you can get them back, and ultimately, if the OP spends time at rehearsal and at home working out those fundamentals, it will definitely make his playing job easier -and to a much larger degree than any mouthpiece change could.
Anyone that believes changing a mouthpiece can salvage endurance lost to beating your face with a large metal object for several hours a day because you can't control your body enough to isolate your face and arms has very little or no experience of what it means to perform in a modern marching band, even at the high school level. Think of it like NASCAR. It is a fact that the differences in tire pressure, plane, wing angle, and suspension settings change the performance and efficiency of the race cars. No one argues that. But if you put me in that car, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference because I don't have the hours of training and driving to take advantage of the differences. My lap times would not change in that car regardless of settings because I can't drive it fast enough to reach the zone where those differences matter. I would also be doing things to directly counteract the benefits of those adjustments through bad driving mechanics. No degree of stabilization control will improve my times if I don't know how to steer through a corner or not hit the brake on the way in. The subtle differences of most mouthpieces are much more on the level of playing with suspension settings than truck vs. car or manual vs. standard. The differences are real, but the degree of influence they have is typically fine-grained enough that until a player is sufficiently advanced, it can do more harm than good to keep switching things up (and another note, you all did notice he's tried changing mouthpieces before and saw and understood it messed him up for a bit, right?).
If you're playing 120-180 minutes a day, and your gigs last the same amount of time (i.e., you're a "working" musician), a mouthpiece that allows you to do so with even a 10% increase in efficiency is absolutely worth finding. If it let's you go 170 minutes instead of 160 before you start to fatigue, you'll notice. The high school student who plays a combined 45 minutes a day (or even 90) may only be gaining 4-5 extra minutes of endurance a day from a new mouthpiece. That's not much, and significantly bigger gains in endurance can be made with a focus on developing playing and marching fundamentals. After all, how did all you "pros" get to where you could play those 3 hour monster gigs? I bet you'd be pretty offended if I told you it was all because you're using a particular horn or mouthpiece.
There are NO immediate fixes. I never said that changing mouthpieces in the long run wouldn't necessarily help. I said that doing so when you're exhausted and damaged was the worst time to do it. I also said that you have to try mouthpieces personally to know if they fit you and your horn -something that most everyone agrees takes time and should be done when fresh and rested. Neither time nor rest are in ready supply during band camp. What can be done in band camp is REST, intelligent practice, smart rehearsal techniques (less up the octave, more mf playing), and polishing and smoothing out marching. All of those things WILL improve OP's endurance, and more quickly than spending weeks or months finding and then having to adjust to a mouthpiece.
I really think that sometimes we forget that we're advising high school students here. They aren't music majors, they aren't having to make a living with their horn, they're not being required to master 6 different styles of playing, and their typical gigs are measured in minutes, not hours. A marching show lasts for 8-10 minutes. That's it. In competition you will play that show twice in one day with warm-ups and some practice in the middle. The demand, once band camp is over, is not that extreme. The biggest risk I see in high school trumpet players is football games and band camp, because those are the long playing days, and most young and cocky or self-conscious high school musicians feel like they have to play everything up and loud all the time at both. That is not the case, and the sooner they realize it, the better.
Besides the personal attacks which don't help the OP, the other problem, unless I missed something, is we aren't there and can't actually see what this kid is doing wrong. Mouthpiece problem? Maybe. Excessive pressure to try and carry the section? Maybe. All we can really do is offer advise and leave it to the OP to take the advice to his teacher who can work with him. And there are all the intangibles of being a senior in high school. New sweetheart (practicing less?). Prepping for college (we had to start with my youngest when he was a junior!)? Lot of things can go into the OP's problem besides the things mentioned. Just saying...
Im gonna put an end to this. YES i agree with scatmanblues i do try to carry the section because no one else plays all the time i AM trying to project my sound on the field more and i AM trying to do my best ALL the time on the field. Thanks to the posts in this thread i am now going to back it down and try to play with restraint to not hurt my embouchure. I ordered a schilke 13A4a mostly because i do play in the jazz band and i've been looking for a new lead mouthpiece so thank you ALL for your advice.
That sounds like a great plan, on both counts.
Some final thoughts for you. Projection is not as much about volume as you think it is. A well-focused, in tune note played at mf will project better than a wide, strained f. In fact, in terms of marching success and producing the most powerful sound, the best horn lines rarely push much past a strong forte. They don't have to because if every member of the line is in tune and focused, a chord played at forte does the job.
Also, remember that when playing outside, you get a LOT less feedback about how loudly you are playing. In a room, you hear yourself echoing off the walls, chairs, etc. and you get almost instant feedback about the volume and quality of your sound. Outside, without realizing it, most people are playing too loud because they are pushing harder to be able to hear themselves. Fight that tendency. You may think you're blowing a mf, but out front it sounds f or ff. You can play quieter than you think you can outside and still be doing the job period. Not just while you're getting your sea legs under you.
Finally, in regards to taking it easy. There is NO shame in that when done with a purpose and correctly. No one will remember how well you played the 13th High D in the 4th run-thru last Thursday. They're too busy surviving camp themselves. I've been in a lot of rehearsals with a lot of guys who gig regularly, and I can't think of one of them who plays everything up and at the written dynamic every time in rehearsal. In my community band, there are 3 of us on first. Only one of us at a time ever plays the upper register work up except final run-throughs and performances. We typically also rotate through resting on a phrase or tune as needed. I've got three section mates who average 3-4 playing gigs a week. They have the chops and then some to play everything all the time, but they don't. It's an unnecessary effort. Get the part rock solid down the octave, and it will make it easier up the octave. If you focus while you're playing down on nailing the intonation, timing, and shaping of the phrases I think you'll be pleasantly surprised what happens when you play it up the octave.
Good luck and have a great season!