What is happening to me!?!? Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpeter3197, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. Trumpeter3197

    Trumpeter3197 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    Let me give you the long, horrible, background:

    Currently I'm about to be a sophomore in high school. At the beginning of last year, I was put on lead for my high school big band (not because I had good chops, I didn't, but because the other trumpets had even worse range). The parts were way too demanding for me at first. So I spent the year getting into lip slurs and long tones. My range started to get really good really fast: I started the year with an inconsistent high D/Eb (above the staff) and by April I had a strong high A above it and was able to squeak out double D's. Soon after this peak, my range began to go down, FAST and HARD. There were moments in May and June where I couldn't even hit a solid high D, and my range was literally no better than it was when freshman year had begun. My trumpet teacher said that this was a problem with embouchure tension, that I was tensing my corners before I put the horn to my lips and this restricted my lips from buzzing sufficiently. I spent a solid 2 months, from May to July, doing relaxation exercises like pedals and soft playing to practice being able to relax my corners. I was eventually able to transfer this to my upper register, and to this day I still don't have a problem with tension.

    So after I fixed this, my range was still as horrible as ever because I had to stop doing range exercises to fix it. I started again with the lip slurs, and then just about 2 weeks ago I started with arpeggios (specifically, the exercise found in this video How to Play High Notes On the Trumpet! - YouTube). This improved my range tremendously, going from a weak high E when I started 2 weeks ago to a strong high G and squeaks of higher notes just a week later. Then, on a particularly good day (this was 3 days ago), I got a little excited with my range and played around with my upper register for quite a while, playing high lead charts and high solos. The next day, my tone suffered ridiculously. I cannot even describe in respectful words how my tone went to crap in that one day. My tone had actually gotten decent (I play on a lead mouthpiece, so it's hard to get good tone, but I had gotten it nevertheless), and the next day it was comparable to a 3rd grader who uses too much pressure. Not kidding. My range also suffered, but not as much (it went down to a strong F). I realized immediately what the problem was, and that day I didn't burn out my chops on high notes (in fact, I only played above a high C when I was doing the arpeggio exercise). I hoped that because I didn't over exhaust my upper register but I still did the exercises to build it (lip flexibilities and the arpeggios), that it would be better the next day. Was I correct? Far from it. The next day (yesterday) my tone was even WORSE yet, and this time my range had really gotten bad again. I was down to a very weak high F and even my D's were getting inconsistent. I did the same thing as the previous day.

    Now today, I have just begun practicing and noticed the same thing. Not only have I still not improved, my range is back to where it was before all of this crap started (weak high Eb) and my tone is still disgusting. All of this up and down is really making me angry. I love playing trumpet (or at least I did), but this is making me just want to quit. Even my teacher (who is a professional) isn't 100% sure of my problem, as he keeps giving me solutions that work only for a short time. I can't put into words how frustrating this is, how much I hate trumpet and my life, but I have no motivation to continue if this doesn't get better.

    My practice routine for the past 2 weeks: Lip trills out of Advanced Lip Flexibilies by Charles Colin, arpeggios (the ones in the video), long tones, then improv. I had been careful and made sure to rest as much as I play, resting a short amount of time between individual exercises and taking longer breaks after the arpeggios. The Colin studies really helped my flexibility and the arpeggios really helped my range (and tone, I found) but it's all gone now, ONCE AGAIN. Can anyone help me?
  2. Trumpeter3197

    Trumpeter3197 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    I also should add that I really can't toy with taking a week or a month off or just playing low and quiet for a long period of time. School starts soon, and I need to be playing lead. After my experiences playing lead last year and this summer, lead is the only spot for me. I can't go back.
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    You over did it. No quick fix. It will take you 6 weeks to several months to recover depending on the rehearsal pattern you choose and using warm up excercises appropriatelly. You are a the mercy of muscle physiology.
  4. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    I second Gmonady.

    It sounds like over training to me although I would say I am not an expert I formed an embouchure almost before I can remember, being given a mouthpiece at the age of three. But I would also suggest you beware of "you tube" quick fixes . I do not want to "do down" your teacher but if he isn't able to take you back to fix the problem which you seem to have created then I would respectfully suggest it is time for a new teacher. There may (although I doubt this) be a mouthpiece issue if you have had a growth spurt.

    Hope I've helped
  5. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    By the way, your range is actually very good for a HS Sophmore. Fabulously good. Some of us who have been playing for 40 years don't have an A above high C. Don't expect an established, consistent high range at your age. just keep working and it will come.
  6. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    Ditto that. Classic case of over training. Take three days off, go easy for the following week or two and cut your playing regimen in HALF until you can easily fill your commitments.

    Down the road consider using a mouthpiece that does more of the work, ie shallower and with a less sharp of an inner edge rim.

    I can take six weeks off the horn and still blow a decent lead trumpet for at least a couple sets because I've learned to use my air and get the mouthpiece to do half the work.

    Endurance and range are mostly learned skills: With proper training and avoidance of over training you ought never have to stress the chops into the condition you are now faced with.

    Better to have chops that are completely out of shape than those which are over trained. At least weak chops will vibrate.
  7. DaTrump

    DaTrump Forte User

    Oct 21, 2011
    Huntsville, Texas
    Listen to the Doc (Gmonady). Unfortunately you screwed yourself but pushing it while being a developing player. This experience is going to grow you up, you'll learn your limit and the consequences of pushing it. Your playing isn't going to get better overnight. I got into a car accident that wrecked my chops and 2.5 years later I'm still not the player I was then, but with the help of a good practice routine, which you seem to be forming, and a good teacher, I'm coming back. It frustrates every time I play, but the end result is always worth it in the end. Have patience.
  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    Some other things to check on..
    diet ... if you are eating alot of salt, as in potato chips occasionally, you are going to pay a price... your lips will swell up and will not respond well
    trumpet maintenance ... keep it clean and valves aligned ... mouthpiece cleaned as well.
    your playing routine... I use to warm up before school ... a routine not just a few low note slurs. Resist the urge to play with tight chops to be able to hit some hit notes.
    What mouthpiece are you using ( size and brand) ?
    Honestly, it doesn't sound like you are enjoying playing that much. I am not going to speculate about that either. I will say that playing trumpet is alot more than playing high notes. There are always choices as well. I played lead in high school and the band director chose the charts with my range as one of the considerations. You may not get as many high fives or notoriety after a concert but wanting to be able to play high notes and go through all of this? ... Think of the classic Dr Phil line "so, how's it working for ya"
  9. BachStrad1

    BachStrad1 Pianissimo User

    Apr 9, 2012
    Kalamazoo MI
    Wow. All of the above advice is stuff you need to take to heart. As a high school sophmore being thrust into the lead slot, you've had a lot more piled on you than you should really be doing physically. And it also sounds like some mental burnout from feeling like you're not going to be able to do this. RELAX. I get the whole wanting to be the lead thing. I think we all do. It's part of being a trumpet player. But you need more than a few weeks to develop physically. Don't get so hooked on the adulation that you wreck your chops before you ever get out of high school. Playing the trumpet is something you'll be able to do for your whole life and you need to set down a good foundation now (refer to basically all of the above posts). Your range is fantastic for someone at your level of development. Remember, the only thing that happens quickly is pain. You're dealing with very small muscles that are very easy to damage. You're also dealing with an ego that is very easy to damage. Don't look at this as the be all and end all of your world. You're still way ahead of your classmates. Take some time to breathe and talk to your director about possibly playing some less demanding charts. Not every chart needs to have you screaming into orbit. And you may not like, but I'm going to pass on the advice my friend gives me anytime I have a diva fit and he puts it into lead guitar terms: Turn down your amp.
    coolerdave likes this.
  10. trumpeterjake

    trumpeterjake Pianissimo User

    Aug 5, 2012
    Connersville, Indiana
    I understand your position but I think you're thinking about range too much...When you practice do you enjoy playing? It sounds like you have a lot of "I have to do this" and "I must be this good or else i'm screwed"... To me this is the wrong mindset for playing. Take your time, enjoy your hobby. YOUR A SOPHOMORE! You just have to remember that.

    I hate when marching band makes players rush into things because they "have to be able to play of to ____ ". When i'm marching during camp I stop when I get tired. When my tone sounds stained and I start chipping...I quit. It's just a practice. When you practice you shouldn't finish with beat up, ripped apart, strained chops. That means you are over doing it. Listen to the people above... they know what they are talking about!
    BachStrad1 likes this.

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