Trumpet Discussion Discuss Frustration! in the General forums; Hi Manny,
The past week or so I;ve been having a lot of trouble with my playing. The week before ...
Mezzo Forte User
The past week or so I;ve been having a lot of trouble with my playing. The week before everything was going great, and my playing felt comfortable and my breathing was working.
Cut to now: my chops feel wrecked - I have a horrible feeling I'm piling on the pressure, which makes me look at my breathing: I feel tight around the chest, and my breathing is not comfortable and relaxed. This seems to often happen to me when I don't have a lesson for a few weeks (my next one is this Friday).
My playing is suffering across the board. My generally good sound is gone: I sound weak, and not resonating properly, with fuzz and smeariness (know what I mean?) My range is the thing that's suffering the most - I'm having to work hard to get above the stave, and I normally have a comfortable D. I got very frustrated working on the Goedicke concert etude yesterday (normally a breeze for me), and I started to get a double buzz - I know that was the result of forcing the air through and abdominal tightness, but I've no idea WHY that's happening now.
This is pretty scary for me, not to mention very frustrating: it seems whenever I start making progress, I often get a setback like this.
I tried taking a day off, because I think I over did it at a bigband rehearsal last weekend, but I still don't feel good with my breathing, and my lips feel swollen and inside I can see they're a bit cut up.
I saw HÃ¥kan Hardenberger doing the PMDavies concerto last night, and woke up excited to get my horn out of the case and practice, but I feel like I'm treading water at best.
I must ask a few things:
Are you a smoker or do you go through phases where you happen to be around a lot of it?
Do you have a history of mild asthma?
Have you been in situations where you've have to eat somewhat heavily before playing?
Do you have times where you find yourself tightening the abdomen while exhaling?
You sound a lot like me before I started working with Arnold Jacobs AND before I availed myself of albuterol, a medicine for asthmatics and people with pulmonary obstructive disorders.
You see, I'm an asthmatic and have been so since I was four years old. While I don't use the albuterol often, it has helped me keep my airways open when I'm stressed by environment, over-eating, and the like.
When a player tells me that there is inconsistency such as you describe, I become suspicious about his health.
Write back, and let me know if I'm on the right track. If not then it's a simple case of abdominal tightness during exhalation and, since its nature is insidious, often it's difficult to detect!
Cheers, my friend. We'll figure it out and keep you consistent.
Mezzo Forte User
I've never smoked (and never will!) but I do sometimes go to pubs etc with friends who do smoke, so yes - sometimes I am around it quite a bit.
I've never had asthma as far as I'm aware, but often seem to get bronchitis - type things. Last year I had it so that the doctor put me on an asthma inhaler.
As far as eating - no generally I don't eat heavily before I play.
As for tightening when I exhale - yes, I find myself doing this quite a lot. Whenever I'm not playing so well, I often find I am doing this.
Thanks for the help Manny, I really do appreciate it.
I'm glad we could put some of the pieces of the puzzle together, my friend. So, I'm guessing the inhaler you refer to is albuterol, known by the brand name "Ventolin" in the U. S. It may be another medicine, tho' also.
It's so easy for pulmonary constriction to be set off by a number of environmental factors. Imagine this scenario:
You go and meet your friends at a pub a bit before a reh/gig and this day is particularly smoky. The day before you were working out and did a normal ab workout, You get to the gig and a situation arises where you engage in conversation with one of your mates and suddenly you look at the clock and you've got half the amount of time you like for warm up. It's a piece that makes you a bit apprehensive because there a fair bit of high notes, whatever. All those thing combined can provide for a flummoxing time! And what's worse is that they are all daily life activities that don't necessarilly raise any alarum bells.
That's when we have to relax and play as efficiently as we can and it becomes a substantial challenge at a conscious level.
Great to hear from you and it sounds like you'll be fine, now that you have a handle on cause and effect. I have to say that whenever you or the other Brits write in it makes me miss England terribly. I love London and the phenomenal world history on every street corner. I miss the chatter of the folks on the street. I love the sound of Big Ben and the walk by the Tower. Do I need to mention the Indian food? I'd so love to get over there before this Proms show in '06 we're doing and meet the players and students again, maybe do some playing, sit and have a chat in a good pub and spend an hour on one pint of Guiness or some such thing (I prefer having the Guiness in Ireland, ANOTHER place I love very much).
Oh, well... next time you order a good dark beer, have a sip for me!
Mezzo Forte User
Thanks Manny - to be honest I can't remember what the inhaler was called, but it was definitely the standard asthma inhaler (I had a scared look on my face when she gave it to me, and she said "Don't worry - it's an asthma inhaler, but you don't have asthma")
That scenario sounds pretty familar to be honest.
I've been playing today, and while I'm not 100% where I'd like to be, it feels better than yesterday, and I'm having good moments.
The prom should be fun (have you done one before?), and I'm sure we can organise a nice curry and a warm pint or two for you! Funny you should mention the sound of Big Ben - when I saw the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at last years proms, one of the sax players kept quoting the big ben tune in his solos. Not sure if the conductor would appreciate you putting that in Mahler 5 however
Hmm, Proms to hear Manny play, then few scoops and a curry !! I'm up for that!!
Originally Posted by Manny Laureano
If there were five of us, we could get t-shirts made and sit beside each other..
M A N N Y
one with each letter..
It hit me after reading this thread that you might be getting anxious about playing well at your lesson, leading to the problems you mentioned. What do you think?
Originally Posted by JackD
Richmond Hill (Toronto), Ontario, CANADA
1952 L.A. Olds Recording, 1975 L.A. Benge 3x, Yamaha 631 Flugel, Olds Flugel
GR 65.6 Mouthpieces
Mezzo Forte User
Well in terms of stress, I might be playing in a masterclass with Hakan Hardenberger this Friday - anxiety enough! I don't get nervous for my lessons - I'm normally relaxed and play pretty well (unless I'm having a rough day).
Originally Posted by djm6701
You could be right about the anxiety causing problems though.
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