Uncontrollable chop trembling

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Hornlife98, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. Hornlife98

    Hornlife98 Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2014
    For the past week or so, my chops have been trembling uncontrollably. Sometimes, during the end of rehearsal, my chops would quiver a bit, but it would go away the next day. However, for the past week or so, the trembling has gotten worse with each passing day. I think it may be because I have been having long marching band camp days, and the days before these "camp days" i was heavily practicing for my regional auditions. I have had chop issues before, but I have developed new habits over the past few months, so I am really at a loss as to why this is happening.

    I am not using excessive pressure. I have, in the past, been in embouchure nightmares because of pressure (as you can see in my post history), but I have learned to lessen my pressure to where it is truly a non issue. Tomorrow, I will have the whole day off, and I plan on not playing at all to see if this is caused by over exertion of the chops. To be honest, I am a little bit worried because I want to perform to my highest capability and having an annoying "wah-wah" in my sound due to lip trembling impacts my tone, and it makes me focus entirely on stopping the trembling rather than making music.

    Also, I'll be meeting my private instructor on Tuesday and I'll make sure to bring this up to him.

    If anyone has anything to say about marching band: I know the toll marching band has on the chops, but I, due to previous chop issues, have become more intelligent in the way that I play. I am not afraid to lay out or to take parts down the octave, so before you immediately blame marching band, keep this in mind.
  2. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Overuse - rest.
    You have already worked out the answer yourself, tell us how it does in a couple of days.

    Maybe some light warm-down routines may help.
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Marching band....hmmm....I'm thinking it could be your arms getting tired. Sometimes too much weight-lifting will cause a trembling sound, so make sure if it is your chops shaking or your arms.
  4. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    All perfect advice. You have just overly worked the chops way beyond what you should and they need a rest. They may be "stiff" next time you play so don't let that worry you. My son came in from college today and is working on memorizing music for the next two or three shows. He has me playing it over and over, copying me and playing along without music. As I rarely practice 30 or more minutes (play for fun), the 3 hours or so I have put in today has my chops doing the same as yours - mouthpiece is beginning to bounce on the chops- meaning they need a rest. Again, expect stiff chops which will also likely be sore the next time you start back. Be sure to do a soft easy warm up. It may take some time to loosen them up.
  5. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

    Mar 16, 2011
    Marching band didn't take a toll on my chops; it strengthened them, mainly because I learned to breathe more efficiently and was using the air to do the work.

    Also, and I think very importantly, there are two things that make playing in marching band easy. One is to train your arms and shoulders to be a firm, but not rigid, support for your horn so it doesn't move around when your body does, and yet still not transmit the vibration of your steps. Speaking of which, we come to the other consideration: when marching, you should learn to slow down each footfall just before touching the ground so that you're creating a shock absorber effect, which drastically reduces the stress to your entire body, instead of just pounding your feet into the ground with each step. Eeeeeasy does it. This way you're replicating a stationary position as far as your chops are concerned. You'll sound better and play better as a result, and you'll be minimizing fatigue as well.
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Blood pressure check first. Then are you sleeping less? Then are you practicing longtones?
  7. Hornlife98

    Hornlife98 Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2014
    Rowuk, I actually got my blood pressure checked this week. That was fine. I have been sleeping just fine as well. Furthermore, I play long tones from Concert F and B flat every day to warmup, and my chops tremble the most when I do long tones.

    Do you think it is a good idea if I do not play at all today to see if my chops are overworked?
  8. RRVancil

    RRVancil Piano User

    Sep 24, 2009
    Littleton, Colorado

    I think the optimal term here is marching. Essentially, you're running and playing the horn. You're really requiring your lips to do a lot, trying to stay lightly set against a mouthpiece that can be bouncing around. I suggest you approach the marching season just like a distance runner. Stretch before and after practices, long tones for the lips, quads and hamstring stretches for the legs. Hydrate....this means water, not soda, but gatorade if practice exceeds one hour (sports drinks after practice, not during). You might also try eating a few bananas (increase potassium). Finally, get adequate rest and maybe even take the day off prior to a performance.

    As J. Jericho said, keep your arms and shoulders firm, but not rigid.....don't stress 'em.

    In high school and college, we were required to use four steps at a cadence up to 180. This made cross-country practice a cinch.

    Good luck and have fun!

  9. cb5270

    cb5270 Pianissimo User

    Jul 20, 2013
    I too have an issue with trembling of the lips. Mild essential tremor runs in my paternal family and as I age it has gotten worse so that now the lips tremble when my they get fatigued. Also can happen when I sometimes get some anxiety in rehearsal because I am a poor sight reader (though improving) and it shows. While these causes may not apply to you perhaps the way I deal with it can help. Results should show up in those long tones. Just basic things we forget about and need to remind ourselves of. Release all body tension, the horn should be resting lightly in loose hands using as little pressure as possible. Be aware of shoulder tension developing. Tight "corners", but with free flow of air through the aperture. MOST IMPORTANT for me is a free flow of air evenly discharged through the throat which you must have open, think of singing the notes through the throat into the horn. Yes this does affect the lips. This stuff works for me, results not guaranteed, especially when marching.
  10. larry newman

    larry newman Piano User

    Dec 22, 2005
    North Tonawanda, NY, USA
    ...if you have to ask if it's ok to take a DAY off, then your head needs to get readjusted to work/rest...just pick up any running magazine...you are way overused in the chop department. How about a week off?

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