Too much facial (jaw) muscles being used

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Myshilohmy, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. Myshilohmy

    Myshilohmy Pianissimo User

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    So I have noticed this problem lately, whenever I am playing in the mid-high register I notice my jaw getting super tense and if I play like that a lot I'm tired after like a half hour. I honestly for the life of me don't know how to fix this. I do breathing exercises and all that. I don't play perfectly centered, I actually use a little more lower lip than upper, but I think it's because I have I have a slight overbite and more air can get through if I tilt my head or the horn. But does anyone have any tips of how to fix this? My neck tenses up too. How do I open my throat? Should my neck look the exact same as when I'm not playing or blowing air?
     
  2. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

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    You've stated a host of conditions but only one problem as i see it. That is

    The cause of tiredness could be several things. For starters though we can rule out these;

    1. I notice my jaw getting super tense No real cause and effect issue here. At worst this may only be a minor distraction. Unless you are closing your jaw excessively (and defining "excessive" is a huge task on its own) the concept of your jaw being "super tense" indicates no specific physical problem.

    2. I have I have a slight overbite As do the great majority of trumpet players from Maynard Ferguson down to myself. I sure as hell ain't Maynard but have enough range and endurance to play the lead book short of say Bud Brisbois.

    3. I don't play perfectly centered, neither does the great majority of brass players.

    4. I actually use a little more lower lip than upper Slightly less than half of all trumpet players do this with no ill effect.

    5. My neck tenses up too So long as you play with plenty of air support the neck tension doesn't amount to diddly (see 6 below)

    6. How do I open my throat? You will never close your throat while playing the trumpet. Anyone who tells you this is a problem does not have an effective insight into the mechanics of brass playing. If you really did "close your throat"? You would hear a nasty gurgling sound emanate from the back of your mouth and instantaneously correct it.

    7. Should my neck look the exact same as when I'm not playing or blowing air? Note the HUGE neck puff of Bill Chase here: "Open Up Wide" Chase-LIVE (original 1st album band) - YouTube

    Bill's tone and range was unaffected by this serious neck puff. Although I'm told that he missed some gigs while on the Woody Herman band due to neck stretching injury. He also spoke in a very soft voice possibly due to vocal chord injury from throat cartilage damage to his larynx but this is only speculation on my part. I only met him twice. Sadly he didn't live long enough for us to know if he would have needed to fix his neck puffing condition.

    Thus: unless you're playing tons of High G's? you needn't worry about what your neck looks like. And even if you did have a big neck puff it might not affect your playing or health negatively. I personally learned how to eliminate my own neck puff without losing range. However i haven't had much success teaching others how to prevent their necks from puffing. This is because either A. They don't give a s--t about their necks puffing or B lack the resolve necessary to fix the problem. That said? All neck puffs are curable. Most of us however won't choose to prevent neck puffing though unless the condition hurts our careers.

    8. But does anyone have any tips of how to fix this? Other than the minor lack of endurance you describe I see no problems in your playing at all. My guess is that you are too lip and body conscious. That and a victim of the 19th century teaching style of brass system methodology. In other words a general collection of old wives tales, faulty analysis, and myth repetition passed down from teacher to student.


    Suggestion? Find the system with the fewest rules and stop worrying. JUST TONGUE AND BLOW!

    You'll do fine. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  3. Myshilohmy

    Myshilohmy Pianissimo User

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    I have noticed sometimes after I play my voice isn't quite there, like I have to clear my throat. And when I march and play I get out of breath slightly faster than some other people, but can still cope with it. Is this all related to Neck tension?

    And thank you Local for the long and detailed post, I appreciate your effort in trying to help me. :)
     
  4. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

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    Do you have a neck puff? Check in the mirror. Just ascend up to a High C to F or so. Play it loud and see how much your neck expands. Even if you do have a neck puff (mine used to bulge like a freaking frog) it won't necessarily harm you. At least not at first.

    I puffed my neck like a bullfrog from 1971 up to 1997 or 26 years. Pretty long time huh? HUGE neck puff that is. Then one night in rehearsal something around my Adam's Apple stretched while plastering some loud High G's My throat hurt for days and I couldn't even blow my nose without severe pain.

    So i followed the Reinhardt Pivot System guide to eliminate the neck puff and everything has been fine ever since.

    Again; you're DEFINITELY WAAY too lip and body conscious. Just tongue, blow like hell and have a great time playing this the coolest of all musical instruments!
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    As a physician, and reading these comments, I cannot help but wonder, could you have a medical condition underlying your symptoms. Hard time clearing your throat, voice change, breathless after exertion, jaw tension. Perhaps you should go into your physician for a regular check up an mention this to them. It may be more than just a problem with trumpet technique. I do not want to scare you, but you did peak my concern with your posts.
     
  6. Myshilohmy

    Myshilohmy Pianissimo User

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    What kind of condition? My doctor doesn't know a lot about band and if I told him what I just posted I doubt it would help him much. Like a condition with my lungs or what?
     
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    From here on out, we should continue discussion on PM, even there I will not be able to go into too much detail. Check your PM, as I am leaving a response.
     
  8. ebjazz

    ebjazz Pianissimo User

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    Although I agree with 357 on most of this, this needs to be addressed:
    5. My neck tenses up too So long as you play with plenty of air support the neck tension doesn't amount to diddly (see 6 below)

    ANY tension in the neck is bad. I don't think he's talking about neck puffage here. Be sure you relax your shoulders and keep your head straight. And don't hole the air in. Release it right away.

    Eb
     
  9. kctrumpeteer

    kctrumpeteer Piano User

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    Here is my thought from similar experiences although not always as typical for me. The answer / solution is easy, doing it is not easy. e.g. I would say that the primary thing that you need to do is to "Relax and open your throat more." Yes this is easier said than done. Maybe even trying some vocal coaching or singing the melody before or after playing it might help. Personally I would tend to say how the [email protected]% do you 'open your throat more?' :-) But I have experienced something like this before where a piece was more challenging (relative to my playing) and I would tense up and then it was a domino effect that the more tense I got the harder it got to play and the more effort it required to play the piece. I think at least establishing or thinking about trying to 'relax' your throat will help it keep it open more and get more air from your lungs into the horn and will make you less tired and less of an issue fighting against yourself to play.
     
  10. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    You may be playing more than your embouchure is ready for and it's straining. Most players under estimated the importance of proper embouchure development and how long it takes.
     

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