Trumpet Discussion Discuss Healing tired lips in the General forums; I'm surprised I am unable to find this elsewhere, so if it turns out that there is a thread for ...
Healing tired lips
I'm surprised I am unable to find this elsewhere, so if it turns out that there is a thread for this already, I apologize. My question is how to heal your lips well enough to play short term, regardless of long term. For example, if you have a many hour long gig for a band you are in one day, and your lips aren't used to that much stress, but then you have to do it again the next day, how would you maximize your ability play in the next day's performance to the best of your ability?
Re: Healing tired lips
I had an experience a few weeks ago, after playing our band's first gig. Two hours non-stop, and about 90 minutes in I felt my chops were about gone. I wisely mentioned it to the other 3rd trumpet player that I was going to lay out a bit on the next piece or two and try to recover.
I then UNWISELY didn't follow that plan, as the remaining pieces were ones I felt more confident in playing and...I wanted to play. Anyway, got through it, and picked the horn up the next day to do a little light practice. Couldn't get a decent sound. Couldn't find the notes. It was like the horn wouldn't slot onto a note, best way I can describe. Gave the horn a bath in case it was gunk. Nada. Tested the water keys for leaks, zip.
My lips felt like they were made out of a recycled catcher's mitt. I think at least part of it was the very cold dry weather we'd been having, too. I let it ride and set things aside for a few days. Picked it up again and everything's back to normal.
This got me to thinking about just your question: how to stay in playing shape if I didn't have a week to recover. I remember from my drum corp days, before electricity and all, that we played probably 6 hours a day either in sectionals, ensemble, or run-throughs, plus of course a show 5 nights out of 7. How did we do that ?
Then I remembered one of the things we did was warm down after every session. As important as a warm up, we would spend 5-10 minutes playing a few exercises low and soft, pedal tones, long tones. It's something I'm going to add, even if I have to do it in the car because we have to vacate the hall or leave from a gig. I think it will help. That, and I'm gonna remember to lay out here and there throughout the session, or at least play much more softly than I otherwise would - the ensemble is big enough to allow this in my voice anyway. Always have something left in the tank. I figure playing to the point of exhaustion can't be a good thing ever, and invites injury or slow recovery and I'd rather not lose the playing time.
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Re: Healing tired lips
I'm guessing that "short term" means two days in a row of long extended rehearsals or performances without the "long term" investment of practice and preparation. If such a technique existed I'd be running marathons whenever I felt like it, climbing mountains and such. It would be like passing tests with flying colors after not even attending class or reading the books.
So first the bad news. Without practice and preparation, you are probably going to play so badly the first day that the second won't be much worse.
The good news is that if you practice about the same as everyone else those hours are going to be thoughtfully planned out so they aren't really marathons, but exercises in patience and concentration. In that case, use your air wisely and don't overblow. You can still play loudly, just use your relaxed but working body. Day two you might want to spend some time with a lower register and middle register warm-up to work out the stiffness. A couple of aspirin the night of the first day might help as well.
"A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength
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