Why do we only understand after we can do?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BrotherBACH, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    Why do we only understand after we can do?

    CASE #1

    My teacher talked about the “inner embouchure” and how to focus the air with your tongue to hit the lips, which are basically irrelevant.You do nothing special with them (i.e., no curl), just set them as most would by saying “M”, plant the mouthpiece and play.He always emphasized playing lessons from memory. During our summer break, I found a concrete room where there is a real acoustic penalty for playing loud. First, I had to learn play as soft as possible.I decided to play minor scales from memory.I just closed my eyes and for the first time ever I really played with my ears.I quite unknowingly changed the way I focused my air to make the best sound possible.All I cared about was playing the minor scales as beautifully as I could.I finally understand what the “inner embouchure” means and how to focus my air to play with a nice sound.Memorizing taught me to play with my ears, which then allowed me to connect sound with how I focused my air. This has now been transferred to my regular playing with music in front of me.

    CASE #2

    I had trouble playing pieces with notes above the stave.My teacher said that I should try to play “squeak tones” a little every day.We don’t play that way but it teaches us valuable lessons about using the tongue, diaphragm, and compression to create fast air.He would demonstrate over and over again.To me, it looked like a magic trick.He would quite easily put the trumpet to his face and play a double high C and above.I would try to play squeak tones periodically.I would really strain, get dizzy, and my corners would get tired and stiff, so I would not spend much time on them.Well, at the end of doing some lip slurs, I heard some faint harmonics that sounded like squeak tones so I thought I would give it some more gas to make it louder.That is when I finally discovered what is meant by fast air. I could feel the jet stream of air past my tongue (which was arched high in the back and close to the back pallet).I really had to push hard from my belly to make the note sound.However, there was no strain in the face or chops like before.

    Quite by accident, I learned how to become one of those silly players on YouTube who make the trumpet sound like a teapot.Only now do I really understand what my teacher was trying to get me to do.My teacher said keep trying until you get the “knack of it”.It is all technique.Then, you try to carry those principles into your regular playing.

    Even with a great teacher, the trumpet is a mystery to be discovered through countless hours of practice until you get the knack and understand retrospectively. I guess one of the benefits is that the teaching cues let you know that you actually “got it” when you stumble upon it.

    BB
     
  2. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

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    I've practiced range since my comeback 5 or so years ago. In my youth ( a high C, 2 ledgers above the staff) was pretty much it ---- now, I am an octave above that (sure, I can't play a 3 hour gig like Maynard or some other could/can) ----- but after all this time ----- it seems to simple to me, and NOW, I wonder why people are stuck at that same high C --------------------------------- 1,000's of hours of practice is the difference, and air
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    A book that won the author a Nobel prize "Thinking fast and slow" Kahneman, deals exactly with this issue (and many more!). There is competition within us between thinking with the brain and with the gut. The book is so good that I don't even want to paraphrase anything for fear of diluting the message. Should be required reading!
     
  4. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    Thanks, Rowuk. I will look it up. I have tried to read the Inner Game of Tennis (or, Golf, known to some) to get over performance anxiety and trembling while playing. I had a terrible bout during a key phrase or soli that I had in Triumphal March.

    BB
     
  5. rufflicks

    rufflicks Pianissimo User

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    Because we are human.
     
  6. strad116055

    strad116055 Pianissimo User

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    +1 on "thinking fast and slow" incredible book.
     
  7. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

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    More on high notes and squeak tones. After having done them once, I tried a little each day at the end of my practice and was unable to reproduce the technique. I was lucky enough to record it at the time so my teacher knows I stumbled upon it. He said keep at until you can do it anytime you want. Well, yesterday, I was able to pick up the trumpet at any time and do them. That is when another "key" teaching phrase that I read multiple time here and on TH finally became internalized with a feeling or a sense. If you push too hard you will blow the lips apart and no sound will come out. I had no idea what that meant until I "played with the balance between air pressure and lip compression. I just can not imagine being able to provide teaching cues to teach this. It seems to be something to keep working at until the ah ha moments comes.

    I reiterate that my teacher has me learning and doing these as a means to and end. It is not the end itself to become part of those idiotic DHC montages.

    BB
     
  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    For some years now, I've been fascinated by the concept of 'emergent phenomena'. The way complex systems (lots of simple systems interacting) create effects that have no readily identifiable cause. If a certain number of basic requirements are met, they just seem to spontaneously come into being, or 'emerge' as if from nowhere.

    This has significant application in the day gig (which I won't bore you with), but it also rings true for the more abstract elements of trumpet performance quality such as those you mention. Recently for me, a more full tone started to appear without me particularly looking for it, or really knowing what I did to achieve it. I guess I'd just started doing enough basic things right for it to come into being.

    This short film gives similar examples of unpredictable results in yet another completely different context.

     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually, playing the trumpet is also a complex system based on physical, emotional and inspirational things. Improving our playing does change the way we eat, live and love. A "prepared" body for breathing involves better posture -which also changes the impression that people have when they see us as being more proud of what we do. Learning to play "with" the music instead of conquering it gives us a new approach to dealing with social interaction. Preparation BEFORE we play gives us tools to minimise effort and maximize efficiency - all with far reaching effects in other areas of our lives.

    The bottom line is that we cannot anticipate the outcome of everything that we do because of the complexity. We can learn to recognize small steps forward and make kai-zen part of our game plan.
     
  10. Brass_of_all_Trades

    Brass_of_all_Trades New Friend

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    A few months ago I heard a radio interview with a researcher who had a theory that the part of the brain responsible for gut instinct is actually capable of reasoning and logical thought but because that part does not process speech we are unable to actually understand what we are thinking. So we interpret that thought as gut feeling when it is actually based in logic.

    It's been a while since I heard that interview and I was only half listening during a long car ride so I might be confusing his words. I forgot about it for a while but Rowuk's post reminded me of it.
     

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