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Trumpet Discussion Discuss How to stop playing with a ton of pressure? in the General forums; I know there are countless threads covering this topic but I can't find one (maybe not definite answer) that is ...
  1. #1
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    Sep 2008

    Question How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    I know there are countless threads covering this topic but I can't find one (maybe not definite answer) that is not just theory. I want to know what has worked for you/people you know because my playing ability is hindered by a ton of pressure. It is what I have always known. I am the best high school player in the southern part of my state but I can not even compete went it comes to range and endurance. I can play technical passages and play major/minor/blues scales. I just feel really beat down about it. I have sat down with some people and they all say use less pressure, okay but I have no clue how to not use it! I could really use some input from you guys, methods, practice idea, anything.

    Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzmaster View Post
    .............. I am the best high school player in the southern part of my state but I can not even compete went it comes to range and endurance...............
    Then you are not the best. Get that out of your head and you may be humble enough to really start working on what is necessary to get better.

    First of all, pressure usually increases range - at least for a while. It also is the first way that "weaker" players find to get through concert programs. It basically replaces the fine motor control of the lips as well as proper breath support.

    It is NOT as easy as just starting to use less pressure. You have to replace the crutch with what is missing. Learning to breathe better is best done with a teacher that can watch your whole body. It is much more than a big breath. You also need to be relaxed while breathing. I have posted my method here probably a hundred times. It is called the "circle of breath". You can google or search for it.

    The second part is the strength and control of your chops. They are fixed by getting a decent daily playing routine. I teach using long tones, slurs, scales and easy tunes. The playing routine is NOT your practice session. It should be considered as a maintenance procedure. It needs to be EVERY DAY. Mine takes about an hour. Then comes my practice time with technical studies and repertory.

    NEVER try to change something of this magnitude during playing season. It is a perfect project for the summer when you are not "forced" to get through anything.
    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2009
    Near Portland, OR.

    Re: How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    Who exactly are these "some people"? Are they experienced trumpet/brass educators? Are you sure that you really use that much pressure? If you actually do, technical passages could be in fact difficult to play. Perhaps it's something else that's the problem. Perhaps there is not one major problem holding you back, but a array of minor ones combining.

    Range and endurancce are difficult to obtain (at least for me). My limited experience shows that even a little objectively measurable progress takes time and a lot of dedicated practice. I mean months and years of SUSTAINED dedicated practice. Long plateaus happen also.

    There are many things you can do to check whether this is really a roblem. Try Markie's pressure assessment tool on this site. Hold your horn by just resting it in the palm of your left hand, no finger in pinkie ring, play around with that, see what happens. Best of all: go to a good, reputable teacher (preferably teaching at university level) even if only for one lesson focused on finding out about this. Chances are, the advice you'll get will be better than what you got from some people.

    Selmer Radial, Bb.
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    A mind that masters the breath
    Creates strength (Lao-Tzu).

  4. #4
    Forte User amzi's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    Northern California

    Re: How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    It's really hard to correct problems like this without actually being with you when you play. My suggestion would be to find a competent trumpet instructor then do what they tell you to do. Like ROWUK said, making the changes you need to make involve a process that takes time. With summer coming up you'll have the time to make the changes you need to make.

  5. #5
    Fortissimo User bumblebee's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Great Southern Land

    Re: How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    I was a high-pressure player for many years. Over the last 2 years I have learned a lot from working through Pops McLaughlin's books but the real breakthrough happened recently when I took a lesson with a real-life instructor who watched me playing.


  6. #6
    Fortissimo User coolerdave's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    San Pedro

    Re: How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    Lots of right on points here ... you really do need an instructor. So many players screw themselves up trying to achieve no pressure. Embrouchure strength really is the key and like Robin pointed out your daily practice routine is very important. If you don't warm up properly and practice properly you won't have endurance and as it was posted you will compensate with pressure. The easest thing you can do during the playing season is get an instructor and practice. I have leanred that performing long tones properly goes along way to help range, endurance and reducing pressure.
    In case you aren't getting lessons make sure you rest as much as you play ... if you play 16 measures you actually pull the horn off your face for that amount of time ... boring at times.. frustrating because you want to play the next exercise but we all do it... just ask the forum.. I think you will be surprised.
    Keep us informed on how it goes.
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  7. #7
    Forte User Al Innella's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Levittown , NY

    Re: How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    Like others have already said,excessive pressure is usually caused by poor breathing techniques. One way to help cut back on pressure is to watch your volume. If you practice softly, say at a p or mp level and no louder than a mf , and when in band think of projection not volume, this should all help you use less pressure.

  8. #8
    Mezzo Forte User
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    Sep 2007
    Los Angeles

    Re: How to stop playing with a ton of pressure?

    I love the "I am the best," and "can't compete." Range and endurance are as much about playing trpt as technical studies. They're also indicative of good efficient playing, imo. My discoveries started when I took my ego out of the deal and gave into the idea that after 40 years of off and on playing, I needed some personal instruction and a routine.

    After sitting in the first chair in high school for a year, I thought I knew it all, could play most anything on the stand. So what if I didn't have a note above high Eb and couldn't play through a 90 minute rehearsal without long rests, I was GREAT! Then I got to UCLA and was buried by blistering high G's and A'a and guys who could play literally all day.

    Bobby Shew, for all of his musical accomplishments calls himself a "student." Don't make the same mistakes I did.


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