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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Hesitation before playing in the General forums; When I'm playing by myself, I often have trouble coming in smoothly and without a hesitation. I sort of "lock ...
  1. #1
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    Oct 2009

    Hesitation before playing

    When I'm playing by myself, I often have trouble coming in smoothly and without a hesitation. I sort of "lock up" in the back of my throat and my tongue.

    Whenever I use a metronome though, or have someone conduct me, or even just snap my fingers, I can come in fine and with no trouble. Also, whenever I play in an ensemble I generally have no trouble coming in, unless it's a very free, exposed part that not's quite in rhythm.

    Has anyone else ever had a problem like this?

    What would you suggest to overcome this problem?

  2. #2
    Pianissimo User
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    Mar 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba

    Re: Hesitation before playing

    It sounds like you either need to have better internal time to help push you along or you've got throat tension problems. I suffer from the latter. My teacher recommended one of two things to help with the latter.

    One of the things you can do is enable "radio voice" just before you play. Take a breath, and then, in your best deep, clear radio announcer voice say something like "ready", and then exhale to play immediately. If your throat is tense, you will definitely hear it in your voice.

    Another thing you can do is just work on connecting your in and out breaths and breathing in time. If you're in 4/4 and you're in on the downbeat, exhale on 3, breathe in on 4 for as long as you can, and just when you hit 1 exhale and play, leaving no time to hold the breath in your lungs, which creates tension, which is exactly what you want to avoid. Remember that the steps are as follows: 1) Expel old air. 2) Take in new air. 3) Exhale to play. There should be no 2.5) Hold air in lungs and tighten throat. Think of your breath as a figure eight, with there being no break between in and out.

    I hope this helps. And as always, your best teacher is common sense.

  3. #3
    Mezzo Forte User
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    Jan 2005

    Re: Hesitation before playing

    Search the forum for Rowuk's "circle of breath." He can explain it better than me.

    One thing I do. Think of the breath in time and as part of the phrase you're about to play. Pick something you're praticing, breathe, blow and articulate without the horn. Then play it, with the same relaxed breath in time. It also helps me to tap my foot, and breathe and play TO the foot. Don't let your foot tap to YOU.

  4. #4
    Utimate User tedh1951's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    The Wide Brown Land

    Re: Hesitation before playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedal C View Post
    Search the forum for Rowuk's "circle of breath." He can explain it better than me.

    It also helps me to tap my foot, and breathe and play TO the foot. Don't let your foot tap to YOU.
    I tend to agree with this too - although I have to do it with my left foot - I cannot for the life of me control the right foot, it seems to control me. I often change feet when speaking too .....

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  5. #5
    Forte User Al Innella's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Levittown , NY

    Re: Hesitation before playing

    It's when you take a breath and hold it in that causes this to happen, only take a breath when your ready to play, don't wait, this is why you can make smooth entrances in ensembles but not alone, your letting the air bottle up and your tongue and throat to tense,when you take a breath think of a quick release, don't hesitate.

  6. #6
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: Hesitation before playing

    My circle of breath consists of visualizing a breathing cycle as a circle. The left side is inhale, the right exhale. You notice that the tops and bottoms are round, so should your breathing be.

    I start my students with breathing without the horn inhale, exhale. Once I am happy that there is no "bump" in the transition, we replace exhale with buzzing on a mouthpiece with NO TONGUING! Just inhale, play - NO ATTACK by "pushing" the air - just the same as exhale. Once that works, we add the horn: inhale, play long tones with NO TONGUING!
    Once the longtones work, we do the same thing with slurs: inhale, play, no tongue!

    For those with crappy playing habits, we do this for a couple of weeks avoiding ANY tonguing exercizes. The trick is to get the lips to speak without the tongue providing a "jumpstart"!

    After we really have the circle down, we never stop practicing it. It becomes a staple for the daily routine!

    After a month or so, we can probably add the tongue, very carefully. It must move VERY quickly, like a knife just to chop up the air into individual pieces. It should not do anything else unless we have to play an accent.

    Your present process is probably:
    close the vocal chords
    apply pressure from the abdomen
    open the vocal chords
    hammer the note out with the tongue because your lips to not "speak" easily without the sledgehammer tonguing

    Another common mistake is wimpy breathing when playing softly.
    Another mistake is not spending most of your practice sessions playing very quietly. How can your chops respond delicately when they are not treated with enough respect?
    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

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