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Trumpet Discussion Discuss EXTREME case of "morning chops"?? in the General forums; For many brass players I know, the feeling of "morning chops" is all too familiar - playing at any hour ...
  1. #1
    New Friend Trumpeter3197's Avatar
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    EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    For many brass players I know, the feeling of "morning chops" is all too familiar - playing at any hour of the morning, before noon, gives them stiff-feeling and/or unresponsive chops. Through simple research, the most I've found as a remedy to these kinds of players is things like drinking lots of water in the morning, getting enough sleep, and warming up longer and slower than usual.

    I would classify myself at the very least as an EXTREME case of this. If I play any less than 6 hours after waking up, I am an unrecognizably different player. My range suffers anywhere from a third to a perfect fifth, and my tone, power, and articulation goes out the window. Being a lead player, this is obviously incredibly inconvenient. To put this into context, I woke up at 7am today, had a big band rehearsal at 12pm, and could not play above a high E almost at all. My range typically extends to strong high A's and double C's. Throughout the rehearsal my chops felt stiff and unresponsive. This rehearsal lasted 3 hours, and I left it horrified, wondering what I possibly could have done to destroy my chops so badly. However, just 2 hours after the rehearsal, at the nice playing hour for me of 5pm, I took out the horn and it turned out my chops were completely fine, if not BETTER than usual. I was tired from the rehearsal, which showed, but I still had strong high G's and A's. It was clearly the morning chops that did me in here.

    As I'm sure is evident now, this is a rather alarming inconvenience for a high schooler like myself who plans on doing music in college, as I will not survive if I'm entirely unable to play for this long of a time after I wake up. So my question is, has anyone had this extreme of a problem with the dreaded morning chops, in both (or either) the unreasonable length of time I have to wait after waking up and the severity of deterioration my playing suffers if I do play at these hours? If so, is there any sort of diagnosis for why this happens to me/what can be done to fix it? The simple water in the mornings and longer warmups have not been nearly enough to fix it for me.

  2. #2
    Fortissimo User TrumpetMD's Avatar
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    When I started my comeback about 5 years ago, I had trouble playing in the morning. I did 2 things, which essentially eliminated the problem for me.

    #1 - I started playing more in the morning. Not sure why this helped. If nothing else, it helped my chops to figure out how to work in the morning. At this point, I do almost all of my practicing in the mornings, unless I had a late gig the night before.

    #2 - I stopped practicing late at night. For me, this helped a lot. For example, if I practiced or gigged late into the night, it was crazy for me to think my chops would be fresh at 7am the next morning. So put the horn away early, if you have an early rehearsal the next morning.

    Not to open up a pandora's box. But I doubt there is any correlation between drinking water and re-hydrating your chops. But if it helps, then that's great.

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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    I used to have trouble playing in the, I don't. I can play pretty much the same anytime. By morning, I mean in the AM within perhaps a couple hours or so after rising - I don't mean getting right up and playing within a few minutes. I have no reason to try do something like that.

    I'm not sure why...other than always working toward the most efficient embouchure and a smaller diameter mouthpiece than I used to play when I had more difficulty with AM playing. I also do some mouthpiece buzzing and lead-pipe playing, but not a whole lot. I play carefully and softly using some soft long tones, some of the Clarke chromatic exercises, and a few scales for the tongue. All softly. One thing I don't do is force anything.

    In general, I understand your problem, used to have it also, but not quite as bad as described, but I don't have it any more...and other than what I said, I'm not sure why. I think I play better and more consistently now than in the past, but I'm not sure that matters, either.

  4. #4
    Piano User Evergrey_rocks's Avatar
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    Never heard of this problem...but in that case, I guess that explains why about half of the trumpet section has this issue during the 6:00 AM marching rehearsals Because only a certain few are producing coherent sounds at that time lol
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    Fortissimo User veery715's Avatar
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    Go with #1 from TrumpetMD. You can retrain your body into new behavior and habits in 3 weeks. Avoid salty foods and STAY hydrated by drinking lots of water all through the day.
    Keep in mind that you are still in flux as a developing adult, and your body will continue to change, and the best way to manage that change is by having a very regular and focused routine. Get more sleep than you think you need.
    coolerdave likes this.

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    Forte User DaTrump's Avatar
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    Your fluids are all in weird and abnormal places in the morning, you just have to learn how to work through it. With me, I started doing a easy ear-building buzzing exercise while I shower, it was long enough before my first warm-up session of the day and light enough to not affect me, but wake everything up. After a while of that you and your lips will start to figure it out.
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    I don't have that problem - ever. I just don't get up until Judge Alex comes on around at around one.
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    Moderator Utimate User Vulgano Brother's Avatar
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    Word on the Straße was that six hours was about the length of time a warm up could last. Allegedly, Ludwig Güttler would break his days into four six hour sections to stay warmed up. (I lost a cushy job to him when an organist retired--creep.) I did play a bunch of 8:00am calls for Bach Cantatas but could dial things in quickly after spending a couple minutes buzzing the mouthpiece with expanding glissandos.

    A practice routine gets pretty much hard wired after time, and it is possible to skip the middle part--not everyday, but when it counts.
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    Pianissimo User odd67ar's Avatar
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    Never had any problems with when to play.A careful warmup, and i am ready Whenever
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  10. #10
    Utimate User tobylou8's Avatar
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    Re: EXTREME case of "morning chops"??

    Play the 8:30 a.m. service for the last 8 yrs.! Warmup on the way and no problems. Change your routine and you'll be fine.
    Vulgano Brother likes this.
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