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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Chronic Issues in the General forums; Hello, I'm pretty new to the site and I thought the community would be supportive enough to give me some ...
  1. #1
    New Friend
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Unhappy Chronic Issues

    Hello, I'm pretty new to the site and I thought the community would be supportive enough to give me some solid advice.

    I'm a Junior in High School who has been playing since the 5th grade. I've been involved in my school's concert an marching band for several years and I'm long overdue to seek someone's opinions on the issues I have. Ever since I began playing the trumpet I've had the obvious and unsurprising issue of too much mouthpiece pressure. I've never had a decent embouchure because when higher register notes were introduced to me I had no idea how to hit them other that putting more pressure on my mouth. The sides of my mouth have never been tired, just a sore, red, and swollen upper lip. Now I'm 16 and have readily scarred my top lip every time I go to a marching band rehearsal or band camp. I can't hit much over a high A, and that's on a good day. I have no clue whether or not I have breathed from the diaphragm properly because I've always relied on the crutch of pressure.

    I know I need private lessons to revert back to a safe way of playing, but what can I do in the immediate future to survive band camp with out permanently damaging my mouth.

  2. #2
    Mezzo Forte User mchs3d's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Provo, UT

    Re: Chronic Issues

    Well, first off, let me welcome you to TM. As you might have gathered, this is a great resource for people who are into the trumpet.

    As far as mouthpiece pressure goes, it is always the result of some underlying fundamental issue. It probably has to do with breathing and embouchure in your case, although no one on here can tell you for sure. Breathing isn't "from" the diaphragm. When I breath, I think "Hoo" on the intake and "ooh" on the out breath. But yeah, mainly you need a private teacher who can help. I don't believe there are any quick fixes to an issue that you have had for 6 or 7 years.
    'My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.'
    - Charles Dickens

  3. #3
    Piano User
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Re: Chronic Issues

    There isnt really anything immediate you can do... not that I can think of.
    It takes time and practice (the right way) to get rid of bad habis.

    Do a search on pressure in this website, I'm sure your question has been answered before. You can also look up Maynard Ferguson's ideas about pressure on Youtube. Type in Maynard Ferguson Clinic.

  4. #4
    Forte User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Clarksburg, WV

    Re: Chronic Issues

    Here's what to do:
    Imagine(Yes, imagine) your embrochure (lips) as a "meat pillow". When you play, do not squish or flatten the pillow. The corners of the mouth, (not arm strength pushing the mouthpiece into the face) are the muscles you want to focus on. To go higher, tighten the corners more. Will the corners hurt for a while? You betcha!
    Here's how to get the muscles. Practice doing lip slurs (various bugle calls) using these combinations about a minute tops on each one:
    Here's the thing. If you practice this and not revert to your old habits, it'll suck and hurt in the beginning. Its just the way it is. You're teaching your body to use the right muscles instead of eating the mouthpiece.
    Here's how you know you're starting to get it right!!
    There will come a time when you're doing the exercise above when you notice that your lips are vibrating more like reeds.

    For breathing? that's easy!
    Watch Urban Agnas' videos on "Flow"
    He breaks it down and makes it very simple.

  5. #5
    Mezzo Piano User lakerjazz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Re: Chronic Issues

    I'm about to enter senior year in high school, and I can relate to your marching band high note situation. I had an incorrect embouchure placement (my entire bottom lip was underneath the mouthpiece) up until 7th grade (I also started in 5th), so when I changed to get a better sound, I had to work all the way back up to get my range to where some of the other players were. I never quite caught up. At times I felt pressured to use pressure, but there was a point very early on when I decided to just forget about the expectations. Band directors expect way too much, and when they see one player hitting Double Gs (to the "regulars": please don't lecture me on what is really a double g- I mean the one an octave above the one sitting on the staff), they think everyone can do it. The fact is that different embouchure types dictate how fast you can improve your range. It doesn't mean that it's an excuse to not work on your range, but it is a reality check. Sometimes you have to forget about the band directors.

    Two things I've been doing which have been working for me are
    1. putting no pressure and trying to force my muscles to squeak out notes. I usually can't go past an E on the staff when doing this, because I'm honestly putting no pressure. This is not how you shoud play regularly but it helps build your chops
    2. Playing lots of licks that have few rests and force you to flex (lots of jumps in the music). This helps a lot, because it puts your endurance into musical context.

    Good luck

  6. #6
    Utimate User kingtrumpet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    New York State USA

    Re: Chronic Issues

    maybe this helps -- I quit for 7 years, and back at it for 20 months -- I'm 45 but had all the problems with the embouchere. I played out the corner of my mouth, with pressure, with pinched lips, etc. I started over many times in my life - it's not easy BUT is necessary.
    play soft - play long notes - 2nd line g for 20 minutes, use little pressure, use faster air for higher notes, not pressure. look up a few guys on the net -- Keith Fiala and Cat Anderson method -- you can print that out from Roddy's Trumpet page. Keith has lots of you tube tips -- that can help get you in the right direction.
    the Cat Anderson Method -- long soft notes, helped me a lot
    hope that helps
    time and practicing correctly --- that's the key --- be patient with yourself

  7. #7
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Re: Chronic Issues

    You have band camp now and you should not risk changing ANYTHING when you have to play.

    A couple of freebies that will help without risk:
    1) PUT BREATHING MARKS IN EVERY PART THAT YOU PLAY! One of the greatest sins is breathing when you HAVE to instead of when you SHOULD. When you are running out of air, arm pressure goes up. If you put enough breath marks in, you will not run out and automatically not have to resort to more pressure.

    2) Point your bell at the music stand when playing. This will reflect sound back to you so that you hear yourself better - you will automatically play a bit softer and that reduces stress on the chops!

    3) Sit up straight with your feet about shoulder width apart. This gets your body use while sitting more optimal.

    4) take a bottle of tap water into the rehearsal. When your chops start getting tired, drink often.

    5) lastly, study the music BEFORE playing it. If you know what is coming, you are mentally better prepared, that also reduces stress.

    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

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