Trumpet Playing May Be Dangerous to Your Health.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Majestic1, Dec 12, 2007.

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  1. Majestic1

    Majestic1 New Friend

    Dec 12, 2007

    Thanks for your post. I had no idea what Elvis died of.

    The exact cause of death of Elvis was cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat. Elvis Presley Death FAQ -- How and when did Elvis Presley die?
    Death can be ascribed to cardiac arrhythmia arising from the Valsalva maneuver,

    If you don’t know Paul Harvey, he “is the most well-known newsman in the world. He established the gold standard for news and commentary over 50 years ago. Today the legendary broadcaster is still going strong with his morning and noon News & Comment and his tantalizing broadcast, The Rest of the Story.†

    It is a given that most colleges are fighting for students and probably even more so for the ones that teach trumpet regardless of their connection with medical teaching institutions. Now if Paul Harvey (PH) stated the name of that college that completed a study of life-long trumpet players which indicates that blowing hard to reach for those high notes promotes glaucoma, would you want to send your kid to study trumpet there? If you were a member on the college board and you heard this radio broadcast which reaches millions of people, you and the other board members would be filing legal suit against PH for stating this information without your permission. PH would not only receive legal action from that college but also from all the trumpet makers, trumpet unions, etc, etc.

    I gave you two references concerning what PH said. If this is not enough, you are welcome to search for more but I’m not going to burn any more toast over this issue.:D
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    do you have anything positive that you can attribute to the trumpet? Your posts sound like an invasion from a battered violists forum. What trumpet music do you like?
    As far as your premise that trumpet playing is unhealthy, have you looked at other wind instruments?
    I do not know why you are obsessed with VM. From the thousands of trumpet players (millions) in the free, publicized world, we only have a handful of incidences where previous health conditions are unknown (probably documented, but not published).
    The idea that you have to blow your brains out when playing may apply to some, but is not what we teach or practice. I am sure that we can "force the issue", but when seeking musical goals, staying relaxed is paramount.

    Blood pressure is a common denominator among brass players (including myself). Causes? Sleep apnea, diet (or lack of diet), going to bed with a full stomach and the sleep disorders that creates, perhaps even a bit of VM. It like most things in life is a combination of factors, some of which can be minimized, that causes problems.

    It is a fact that EVERY profession has its health risks. You may have pointed something out that we did not know, but you have offered NOTHING but gloom and a small handful of possible incidents. Hardly significant. Do you know ANYTHING about reducing the risk?

    As far as colleges with medical departments looking for music students, I think that your premise is the least of their worries. Teaching music (or teaching in general) is much more hazardous to your health than playing trumpet!

    You completely ignore the pleasure that playing the trumpet gives and the positive effect on our psyche - which has a PROVEN connection to our well being.
  3. Majestic1

    Majestic1 New Friend

    Dec 12, 2007
    I was about to answer Jeanne Pocius’s letter and then you, rowuk, posted one; so, I decided to answer them both at the same time. Jeanne writes with such feeling and compassion for the trumpet. It is always a pleasure to read her posts because the trumpet has always been my instrument of joy since the age of 10.

    Had I known back at the age of 10 what I know now with all the health hazards and other problems it has caused me, I would not have majored in it and spent 100’s of thousands of dollars for and because of it. It is like having a beautiful wife that you love very much and have had loved her for many years, then you come home after a very hard gig and find her in bed with a stranger. This stranger’s name happens to be Antonio Maria Valsalva. To make it worse, this guy doesn’t want to leave. Jeanne, how do I get this guy out of my house? :-o

    rowuk, it seems that you're railing against the stick of truth that you apparently feel is being used to beat you. It is quite evident that this information has struck a nerve in you for it really then must have something to say about your medical maladies even though you do not like it. I can also see how this could worry you and threaten you on what you should be doing about it. I don’t know how this has affected everyone with all of its implications but I do know how it has affected me. You can try to kill me on the forum, rowuk, but you can’t kill the truth.;-)

    No matter how the embouchure is formed, Jeanne, either the correct way or the incorrect way, the large volume of air is still going through the same small hole which creates back pressure thus evoking VM. Someone mentioned that you wrote about blackouts (which is from VM) in your book and I was hoping that you could share what you wrote for it might give us something about reducing the risk as rowuk is demanding and of which others here including myself would like to know.

    I have learned that this guy, Valsalva, is also messing around with sax players and balloon blowers; so, what I have tried to say and will continue to say is to beware and to be aware.

    For myself, I’ve switch to helium balloons. For others, you might put a pocket trumpet in the bathroom for it might help with matters while you are there…like killing two birds with one stone...figuratively speaking of course.:D
  4. trptchopdoc

    trptchopdoc Pianissimo User

    Jan 13, 2005
    Port-au-Prince, Haiti
    Maj, et al:

    No, the black out is NOT from VM, but from an arched back of the tongue forcing air up into the nasal sinuses (this from a medical colleague).

    VM comes from bearing DOWN with the abdominal muscles and closing the the throat to control the air, rather than keeping the airflow free until it hits the lips.

    It also comes from OVER blowing: it is NOT NECESSARY to use a lot of air to play the trumpet, just enough to set the standing column of air vibrating within the horn!

    Maj: You're welcome to come see me anytime in Boston, usually in 1 to 2 3 hour sessions we can begin the process of breaking the bad habit of overblowing and closing off the throat.

    You also don't mention what you play for a horn and mouthpiece: sometimes a mouthpiece that is too large or too small can also create pathology in the trumpet player.

    Also a horn with too large or too small a bore may also create problems...

    FOR THE RECORD: playing the trumpet is not the issue! (I've been playing trumpet for decades and decades and have LOW blood pressure, due, in part, my physician tells me from the cardio-vascular BENEFITS of being a trumpet player!!!<!!>)...

    Playing the trumpet INCORRECTLY can cause ALL SORTS of problems.....

    In the words of Mae West: "Come up and see me sometime!" and we'll get you on the road to playing in a more healthy manner....

    Best Blessings,
    Schwab likes this.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Nothing is beating me and I have no desire to "squelch" your hypothesis about the significance of VM. There is quite a bit missing in your argumentation however.

    I have no doubts that many things that we love in life can have a negative effect on our bodies. The joy of food, drink, the fear of lonliness and of course fear of "medical issues" all are factors.

    The "large amount of air" going through the small hole you claim is not very scientific (and not necessarily true!). In theory, the resistance of the horn/mouthpiece needs to be optimised so that we can breath "naturally" while playing. Too much resistance means that we cannot expel our air quickly enough and feel like we are suffocating. Too little resistance dictates that the quantity of air that we inhale is not sufficient for the phrases that we have to play. Neither of these states determine how much physical force we have to apply to play. We could compensate for the former by simply not breathing as deeply and th latter by using shorter phrases!

    It helps to compare playing to electricity. Simple inhaling and exhaling are like direct current (DC) and playing is like alternating current (AC).

    The air that we expel (DC) only has to excite the lips (cause them to open and close). Once the lips are in motion, the AC component of the entire resonant structure from lungs to room size and damping takes over and determines the energy required to maintain a sound. That air pressure is dependent on many factors like instrument, mouthpiece and embouchure strength. When we wish to play more loudly, we blow harder to get a larger motion of the lips which is then amplified by the horn. The amplification of a trumpet is linear until we exceed a certain volume, then the horn starts distorting, fighting back and the pressure goes up based on the impedance of the horn.

    My point is, that large volume of air that you claim is pushed through the aperature may or may not be necessary depending on your playing style and the efficiency of your set up. The back pressure becomes a real issue not based on aperature size, but the ability of the trumpet to amplify adequately for the job at hand. If you constantly have to play above the "loudness" that your trumpet was designed for and comfortably produces, or need a bright sound but have a "dark sounding" trumpet (which sounds brighter when overblowing it), you have the wrong equipment. We have a similar situation in the upper register! If our horn "fights back" (wrong instrument, embouchure...), we have to exert a great deal of pressure to compensate. This is simply not true of every horn/mouthpiece combination or embouchure.

    VM is certainly possible, but is primarily an issue for players doing something very wrong or with a genetic susceptibility. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are many factors that can weaken our bodies and some combinations could very well cause problems. Your posts do not contain the medical information of the victims OR their playing habits. Both would be required to make any claim statistically significant (which is much different than true or untrue). We do not have players dropping like flies, so your problem may not be universal.

    As you are a victim, maybe reflection on your own playing habits and equipment would be of significance. What type of music did you play, what did you experience on stage, did you play lead, classical, church gigs before the nightmare started? Maybe there was something significantly wrong with your setup or body. The context of the claim is significant when attempting to project it on other people.
  6. dstrad

    dstrad Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    My father suffered from debilitating asthma as a child. The doctor recommended taking up a wind instrument to build up his lung capacity. He chose the trumpet, graduated Juilliard and taught instrumental music for 38 years. The trumpet improved his health (he has never suffered another asthma attack) and provided him with a career! It's not all doom and gloom.
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Can we invoke the Valsalva Maneuver with a trumpet in our hands? Yes. Is it a necessary and integral part of playing the trumpet? No.

    Ideally, we experience resistance after the note is played, not before, albeit a short time after (at most a few round-trips through the trumpet at the speed of sound). This normal resistance is not capable of damaging anything except perhaps the ears of the person in front of us, hopefully a violist.
  8. Eeviac

    Eeviac Piano User

    OK #1 majestic1, EVERYONE knows Elvis died on the toilet, straining, while in the process of ingesting yet another deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. I mean, where have you been? Everyone knows this!

    It was just too much for his system to handle, and he died. While wearing one of his white jumpsuits and it's pretty well known that he had his guitar in hand too, although how he was supposed to handle the guitar, a sandwich, plus certain operations involving T.P. is hard to imagine, the important thing is, it happened.
  9. Eeviac

    Eeviac Piano User

    PS - Paul Harvey actually predates radio! He is the last remaining example of animatronics that resulted from collaboration between Thos Edison and Nikola Tesla, and was used in old films to promote the McKinley campaign, and also to rail on against the evil dangers of A.C. electricity after the Edison-Tesla falling out. A station engineer I talked to said he once saw Harvey in the flesh, er, I mean taxidermy and relays, and said "he looks almost human!".

    Harvey's speeches nowadays are generally written during the annual meetings at the Bohemian Grove, you know, that place Alex Jones is always trying to get into. It takes a while for the Bilderburgs and Illuminati to get 'em down on the wax cylinders that are then installed for each speech in Harvey's mechanical guts for each speech, but you just can't cut corners with classic technology! This also explains why Harvey always speaks in an air-conditioned studio, his words of wisdom will melt. And why he always eschews martinis in favor of his favorite formaldehyde shot with a neatsfoot oil chaser, for their preservative qualities.

    This thread is fun!
  10. ccNochops

    ccNochops Piano User

    Sep 30, 2006
    White Marsh, VA
    Close to 3100 views & 108 replies.....over squeezing one to be some kind of record. Strange thing this lack of tolerance of things with strings.....interesting
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