What's happening to me?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Clarion, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. Clarion

    Clarion New Friend

    Oct 3, 2010
    N.E. Ohio
    *SIGH* I'm sorry to say tonight was another bad one. I couldn't stand to listen to myself for ten minutes before putting the horns away. I just don't understand it.

    I wasn't using the practice mute and, sure, I was using a different mouthpiece. I even tried a different horn (now that I have more than one), but the problem remains the same. It's the same just using the mouthpiece. That pretty much proves that my lips are the problem.

    Something just isn't riight. I can't imagine what I might have done over the last thirty years to create such a situation. It's as if the overlying soft tissue no longer has a firm connection to the underlying musculature, and I have no real control over it. I figured that after a while, it would firm up - something like developing a callus. I don't know if there is anyone in this area who could possibly analyze the situation. Is there such a thing as a musical physiologist? It doesn't matter since I can't afford to pay for one anyway.

    One of the things that disturbs me is that none of the other older comeback players here have said they've had the same experience and managed to overcome it. I'd have to conclude that what I'm experiencing is rare, if not entirely unique. It is certainly disheartening.

    Well, thanks for letting me vent.
  2. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Lip balms are OK if you are being exposed to drying conditions - cold, wind, dehumidified air, but it shouldn't be necessary to use them all the time. It might be a good idea to reduce their use to when conditions call for it. Perhaps habitual use is keeping your lips too soft.
    In the winter when I get outside I do protect my lips with Chopsaver, but I usually don't apply it close to playing, or blot it off with a paper towel if I can still feel it.

    >>>You were posting while I was writing. Do you know what breath attacks are? You keep your lips in contact with each other, and use your breath to blow them into vibrating. Not big breaths, just gentle ones. Try taking the tuning slide out and playing just the mouthpiece and leadpipe, doing attacks with a "ho" attack, and see of that helps. You should get an F. (Note, not grade)

    It doesn't take a callous. It takes relaxed lips, but firm corners, and think about letting your lips pucker into the mouthpiece. Lips just vibrate. They have enough connection to the rest of your face and its muscles, believe me. You are trying too hard. Forget about the 30 years and just take it easy, blow gently, wet your lips, and it will come.

    Keep trying. In a short time it will get better.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010
  3. SCV81

    SCV81 Pianissimo User

    Sep 10, 2010
    Bay Area, Northern Calif.
    @Clarion - I'm in a similar way. I'm 47 and coming back after a 29 year hibernation. So far, no private lessons, just memories of horn instruction i received in band and drum corps, reinforced by advice here on TM. I have the same experience as you whenever I practice "too much". I'm no expert, but I think perhaps rest is just as important as playing at this stage of our re-learning. Also, any high notes I play (high C and upwards) I make sure I play low notes too, as well as the middle register. I'm thinking this would develop lip flexibility so as to prevent the lip from "locking into" the higher register only. Just my own humble opinion as an amateur player :-)
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  4. melza

    melza Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2010
    I would perhaps try a break, dont play for a week, let your mind and muscles heal then get back to it.
  5. Diemond

    Diemond New Friend

    Sep 12, 2010
    Keep practicing man. You'll get better again
  6. Frankie Prive

    Frankie Prive New Friend

    Feb 21, 2010
    Mansfield UK
    As a 53 year old comeback player I'm finding that Clarion's experiences are identical to mine.
    However, (after taking advice from my teacher who is also the band leader) I've managed to overcome many of the problems by alternating between silent mute, straight mute and no mute while playing the same pieces for my daily practice sessions.
    My overall sound and endurance has improved and I believe I'm developing a better 'feel' for my favoured 11B4 mouthpiece.
    So hang on in there Clarion, I'm sure it will eventually come together.
  7. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  8. ed haley

    ed haley New Friend

    Mar 1, 2008
    As I read all of these reactions to Clarion I thought I would try to bring a note of encouragement from my experience. I started playing at 12 and left school and home at 17 to be a trumpet player since that was all I knew how to do ( I thought).I found out pretty fast that I did not play well enough nor did I have a good enough training to make it as a musician.Through the post Korea GI Bill I found another profession, and continued to play for kicks and a little money. I quit altogether for 18 years. Then I got inspired to try again and with a little help from my old musician buddies got back into it and got to be a pretty fair jazz player, had some good small jazz groups, did a little recording and, when the music scene began to fade ended up in a duet with a 7-string guitar player for ten years. I loved it. Then another hiatus of about 3 years. Then I got back into playing (mostly cornet) and found a regular Sat night with a trio at an Italian restaurant. Not the greatest band I ever played with but where else is a horn player going to find a regular gig where you can play and develop improvisation skills.
    Now I will be 81 soon and am probably playing better than ever; I practice every day ( I missed one day in the past two years).
    So my advice to Clarion is if you want to be a player it takes time and persistence, a little luck,start where you are and find people to play with , listen a lot to people who make you want to play like them.To me there are few things that make me feel as good as I do when the gig goes right and I know I have played my best. ( Of course, it is really cool when young guys dig that I'm older than their fathers.I like it!)
  9. Clarion

    Clarion New Friend

    Oct 3, 2010
    N.E. Ohio
    Thanks again for all of the support guys. I do appreciate it. The only problem is I have no idea if you really comprehend what I've been saying. I really wish I could record the sound(s) so I would know you understood exactly what I'm talking about. I can't even think of a good analogy to describe it properly. At best, it sounds like a double buzz. At worst, it is a grating raspy sound, and at times it makes it impossible to play any defined notes or any sound at all.

    Other than this one (serious) issue, I feel I've actually progressed rather well for the relatively short time I've been practicing. On my good days (when the problem is not serious), I can play cleanly up to an E with relative ease for short periods, although I don't do it often or for extended periods. Actually, I've had more difficulty playing a low D or C (and below). On the really bad days, I can hardly play anything cleanly and trying to play softly makes it virtually impossible to play anything at all.

    As I've mentioned before, I never really had any actual instruction during my school days. In fact, at the time I had no idea there were even different mouthpieces. Remember, we had nothing like the internet back then. (Hell, that was when we were still using slide rules and digital calculators first came out!) After reading a good bit from this forum, I am truly amazed at how ignorant I was (and still am).

    I've come to the conclusion my problem really stems from my lip balm addiction. A very long time ago, I switched to the cherry flavored variety, and I sincerely believe my constant use of this stuff had changed the natural pH of my lips. If I were to use the regular, non-flavored variety, my lips would literally feel like they were burnt.

    This is why I don't believe any type of practicing will have any improving effect. Like I've said, I've just changed to a "natural" type of lip balm and I'm trying to reduce my usage. I don't use any shortly before attempting to practice. So far, it's been a rather uncomfortable transition, and it may be my only hope for curing this problem.

    I don't know if it will happen, but I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet. After all, I was crazy enough to have practiced the theremin an hour a day for two years (while also being hearing impaired). The difference is I never had my arm just go into spasms while doing so.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010

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