What to do when you've been playing wrong for years.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by LLD, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. LLD

    LLD New Friend

    Oct 18, 2007
    So, during my high school marching band sectional, my band director noticing that I occasionally puff my cheeks out. I say 'well, I've done it forever'
    "oh, well i've never seen you do it"
    "well I do it all the time"
    "well quit it... easy enough"

    ...problem is, its not so easy. I've been playing trumpet for 6 years and was never corrected. Besides that thinking about my cheeks all the time takes my mind off of the music and tone, making jumps between notes far apart on the staff or getting up to the high notes is very difficult and fatiguing (on both my cheeks and my embochure).

    My question is, seeing as how I've been doing great without worrying about whether my cheeks are puffy (I made 1st chair for the district band and have a good shot at all-state), should I work hard to fix this?

    Would it be too flattering to think if Louis armstrong could puff his cheeks, I can puff mine?

    Also, seeing a few posts on here regarding 'smiling' to get high, is this the same thing as pulling the corners of my lips back? or is this the right way?

    Thanks a bunch.
  2. mbrantley2

    mbrantley2 New Friend

    Oct 18, 2007
    I have had a problem with my cheeks too, and I found that if I didn't puff my cheeks, my range was a whole lot better. My band director who plays trumpet told me to take a pencil and hold the end of it in your lips without using your teeth, just your chops. If you hold it for a minute or two you will feel it huurt and thats how you know youre gaining strentgh
  3. LLD

    LLD New Friend

    Oct 18, 2007
    *holds pencil in mouth...*

    (thanks for the reply)
  4. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    Oh man, this is a loaded one... since no one has offered anything yet, let me.

    First off let me say that people operate differently from each other. It is what makes up individual. So, different strokes for different folks. It is of my opinion that the puffing of cheeks is not good.

    Here's why in my opinion. The goal is to get the air through the horn in the quickest and most effiecent way. If you are puffing your cheeks then there is residual air that is being built up and getting in the way of your main air stream. So, in essence, though it may not "feel" like it, you might have a circular air pattern in your oral cavity instead of a "jet" stream. I believe that will impact several things including articulation, tone, and range.

    If it works for you now, should you change it? That's up to you. If it works for you, then great. However, you could always try to correct it and see what comes of it. You never know, you may reach even a higher level.
  5. mrtrpt

    mrtrpt New Friend

    Sep 23, 2007
    practice just blowing on your hand like you are blowing out a candle and don't puff your cheeks... work on slowly integrating that into your playing.

  6. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    What part of your cheeks are you puffing?

    If you are puffing like Dizzy I would suggest you not do it. I think his range suffered and I know my range would suffer if I did it.

    Now we look at circular breathing. When I saw Allen Vizzutti do it he lets the upper cheeks, under his eyes, puff out while he inhales through his nose. The puffing "high" is pressurizing his air stream while he reloads his lungs.

    I have tried this and it takes a lot of work and time to practice. I love to see trumpet players do it. A certain amount of puffing goes on but it is high cheek puffing and temporary.

    I will suggest that you obtain a poster called, "The muscles of the head and neck" available from medical supply houses. Study the poster and assess what you should and should not do.
  7. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006

    Dizzy didn't puff his cheeks because he had bad technique. He puffed them because he ruined the muscles in that area. It happened to a lot of great players, although his was the most drastic.

    Circular breathing is a whole other ball game. You pretty much have to puff your cheeks unless you are really fast at it and can do it with just your tongue.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    The best test for cheek blowing is musical, and that is your sound. Does it sound compact, clear and directional; like a trumpet should, or does it "sound like a bugle?" If it sounds like a trumpet should and you can play fast/slow, low/high/ and loud/quiet with the sound you want (as opposed to the sound you are used to, and don't be shy about asking a trusted friend to listen [like your band director] with their eyes closed to give an honest comment about your sound). If it sounds good and gets you to all-state, then quit tripping and start woodshedding...and have fun doing it!
  9. LLD

    LLD New Friend

    Oct 18, 2007
    It's usually a quick puff by the top row of my teeth and along the top of the front of my mouth, just to push my embrochure into the right position.

    Sounds cool, right? Regardless, I'll try some of the stuff suggested.

    Very helpful around here, thanks. ^^
  10. ejaime23

    ejaime23 Pianissimo User

    Jul 27, 2007
    The puffing is usually a result of weak corners. Focus on keeping firm corners (the pencil trick helps) while still maintaining a soft middle of the lips. I'm gonna be completely honest here, as a near educator (I'm in my last semester of an ed program), it really upsets me to see that you've played for 6 years and not one director has spotted that, then again, these Texas bands spoil me =)

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