trumpet practice and migraine?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by skf, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. skf

    skf New Friend

    Oct 5, 2008
    Has anyone out there with classic migraine noticed a connection with trumpet practice? My 13 yr old son, a talented and self-motivated trumpet player, is having a devil of a time with classic migraines (the kind with initial vision changes, then excruciating headache for about 10 hours). I've noticed that of his last dozen episodes, probably half have begun about 15 minutes after he begins to practice. And no, he's not trying to get out of practicing - he loves to play, and is very good at it. The latest theories of migraine seem to link it with stimulation of nerves in the face, so it isn't as crazy as it sounds to think that trumpet practice could be triggering his migraines. Anyone out there ever experienced this?
  2. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    You might try emailing Dr. Oliver Sacks. He's done a book on music, and a book on migraines. They are both EXCELLENT and personally I recommend rushing right over to Amazon and ordering them right away.

    OK you back? Now, since he's a doctor and I'm not, I don't want to say anything about music and migraines except to say that blowing on a trumpet may raise blood pressure a little ... ? It may be time to contemplate the choice of instrument.....
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    perhaps the practice routine aggrevates the situation. As an experiment, have your son take the first 15-30 minutes and just play easy tunes at MODERATE volumes. Avoid any extremes during this time and see if the results are the same.

    Like lifting weights, there are various styles - low impact - high repetition or high impact - lower repetitions. For getting really good at trumpet the former has INCREDIBLE advantages! Just about everything technical can be mastered at piano to mezzopiano. The same goes for lipslurs and most things musical. Tension only becomes an issue, when the playing becomes extreme.

    Working on breathing and body use could be a big help here.
  4. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Both my son and I have migraines -often severe. For us, they are not triggered by playing. Try looking at what else is being done just before he begins practicing. Also, is his practice routine at roughly a certain time of day? If so, move it to another time and see if that makes a difference.

    With migraines, it is often "detective work" to spot triggers while trying to avoid "superstitious" behavior where the wrong trigger is misidentified.

    Try having him spread practive over the day. Start with one or two minites of easy playing, no more. Put the horn down. Come back to it in another hour. Add a little more. Leave it alone for another hour. See if he can build up to the playing. If no problems, then lengthen the time a little each day. Not a lot of fun initially-but it may get him by it.

    Let us know what you find. For folks that do not have migraines, many do not understand how debilitating the things can be. Best of luck.
  5. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
  6. skf

    skf New Friend

    Oct 5, 2008
    It is classic migraine - the kind where you have a few minutes of blank spots in your field of vision, then excruciating headache for 8-10 hours. There is a very strong family history on both sides. It is clearly exacerbated by stress, since they increased to once a week toward the end of school, then dropped back to once a month over summer vacation. He practices at any time of day - early morning, afternoon, evening, and the migraine has been triggered by practice at any time of day. He also has migraines that are not triggered by trumpet practice, but we recently realized that 6 of the last dozen or so have begun after about 15 minutes of practicing. This is not from poor technique - he is an advanced player. I'm just looking for input from other migraneurs who also play trumpet, to see if there is a connection in migraine being triggered by trumpet practice.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I did not assume poor technique. I suggested that he try just playing very softly for the first part of his practice session to see if there is a connection between high impact/migraine and perhaps low impact and less of a trigger.

    In being a detective, he could try 15-30 minutes of breathing execizes only without the horn or mouthpiece. Perhaps the additional O2 is an issue, if not then, add the mouthpiece and check, then the horn softly, then extended but soft practice sessions. You get the idea.
  8. jmichaelhurt

    jmichaelhurt Pianissimo User

    Jul 18, 2010
    I've played trumpet for almost 20 years now and and I've had migraines for about 25 years. It wasn't until I read this book Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain (9780761125662): David BuchholzÂ… that I found the solution.
    Actually playing the trumpet never caused me to get a headache but I've certainly had to play with one and it can most definitely make it worse. The book talks about certain triggers that cause a migraine and how one or two triggers alone may not cause a headache but several together can cause one. Your son may be right at the threshold of a headache on a constant basis due to stress or even barometric pressure and trumpet playing may very well push him over the edge. It will change his life if he can figure out what those triggers are and avoid them. Playing the trumpet may be a trigger but that alone probably isn't the cause.
    For me, it was my diet. Avoiding certain foods has changed my life. I was taking two injections of Imitrex a week on average before I read the book. Now, I take an average of two per year and my playing has never been better!
  9. eneh

    eneh New Friend

    Aug 6, 2010
    I also have migraines and originally thought they have been connected to playing. When I considered my triggers and observed how I felt before playing, I do not believe playing caused the migraine. When I play in the absence of triggers I do not get migraines.
  10. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 10, 2006
    I really have no idea, but I'll just throw this idea out there: Is it possible that the migranes are triggered by him taking in too much of the evaporated valve oil? Most valve oils are petroleum based, and I know that sometimes, when I take in too much, it can be annoying. You say that he's had migranes 6 out of the 12 times he's played. If he oils his valves every other time he plays, this would make sense. But if you are going to test this theory or any of the others mentioned, you probably shouldn't tell him. If he thinks it, he'll feel it.

    I might be getting ahead of myself here, but if the valve oil is the problem, a simple solution would be switching to a synthetic valve oil, which many feel are better anyways.

    Good luck

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