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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Opening up quietly in the General forums; To put it simply, I'm running into issues playing quietly. I can't quite figure out what I'm supposed to do ...
  1. #1
    Pianissimo User
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    York, South Carolina

    Opening up quietly

    To put it simply, I'm running into issues playing quietly. I can't quite figure out what I'm supposed to do to use enough air at a low dynamic level, and have a tendency to pinch. My band director suggested I do pitch bends and decrescendo-ing long tones..does anyone else have any suggestions for this problem?

  2. #2
    Utimate User
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Jackson NC

    Re: Opening up quietly

    It's true that piamissimo is tough for trumpets ... alone it turns the brain around ... but the long term consequence of low long tone piamissimo practice develops the best overall performance. I've never been able to achieve quad piamissimo but I still try and use all the aids and help to achieve this I can.
    Last edited by Ed Lee; 07-31-2011 at 08:09 PM.

  3. #3
    Utimate User gmonady's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Dayton, Ohio

    Re: Opening up quietly

    You are pinching [your lips]. Now stop that.

    Do this... WITHOUT your mouthpiece to you lips... Take a big breath of air, another, another, another... now hold it, hold it, hold it... then let it out through pursed (not pinched) lips slowly, slowly, slowly. Feel the softness as the air passes between the lips. This is quit playing. Try it now with your pursed (not pinched) lips on the mouthpiece. If you have enough air pressure behind you (with your big breath) the force of air is all you need, and you can relax your lips.

    Give this a try, and may the [quiet] force be with you.
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  4. #4
    Piano User
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    Jul 2009

    Re: Opening up quietly

    Practice relaxed. Practice something you already know in the middle register, use solid air support, but don't press. It is not easy at first, but you have to maintain your air column without just blowing.
    If it's any comfort, most trumpet players have difficulties playing quietly while maintaining a centered tone. It is not as easy as it seems it would be.
    Duane Massey
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  5. #5
    New Friend
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    Jul 2011

    Re: Opening up quietly

    hi just joined, making my first post, i am in denver, played pro 25 years

  6. #6
    Forte User jiarby's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Re: Opening up quietly

    I practice long tones that decrescendo until the tone dies... then I try to re-start the tone from there.

    There is a point where the note just barely starts to form... like when the Deathstar is about to blow up the planet and all the laser rays are gathering before the big death ray starts... It is like the musical static electricity is gathering up and when there is enough then the tone pops out.

    I call that the "note vapor". I try to hang onto the note vapor tone as long as I can before the regular tone happens. It is pretty elusive, but it is about breath control and attacks. If you use your tongue it is too loud! You have to have a consistent, focused, but low volume super soft stream of air. If there is any wavering in the air volume you can really tell at this level.

    For me it is kind of a ZEN thing!

  7. #7
    Fortissimo User coolerdave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    San Pedro

    Re: Opening up quietly

    IF you chops are tight then it will be a little more difficult to get your hands around the concept.
    Make sure you are doing warm ups and warm downs after you play. If you play Lead in a Jazz band or are playing in a marching band and don't warm down your chops will feel really stiff and when you try to play softly all you will get is air and alot of sputtering.
    Do the exercise gmondy recomended ... air support and a focused air stream is the basic concept.
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  8. #8
    Moderator Utimate User Vulgano Brother's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Parts Unknown

    Re: Opening up quietly

    A great exercise for learning control is to practice what my professor, Gerald Webster called "Ghost Tones." Take a note (say, for example, g in the staff) and without tonguing, play it so softly that the sound really doesn't leave the bell--it will get trapped inside and not project.

    This is really hard to do!

    To learn the feeling, practice decrescendos with the sound going down to nothing. If the note stops, keep trying until you get it down to next to nothing. When you get this down, try the original exercise.

    Not to worry--soft playing requires more embouchure strength than playing loudly.

    Have fun!
    "A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
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  9. #9
    Utimate User turtlejimmy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Re: Opening up quietly

    Quote Originally Posted by Vulgano Brother View Post
    Not to worry--soft playing requires more embouchure strength than playing loudly.
    Have fun!

    Thank you VB! That is good to know ........ Everybody struggles with soft playing. I decided that I'm not going to say anything about equipment (some of it making soft playing easier) as that could lead to dissention and even rioting (if a MP is involved).

    So, having NOT said any of that (hint, hint, see sig), my take is that soft playing requires a significant amount of time to get it right ....... I'm well on the path because of neighbor considerations. Keep at it!

    Trumpets are for extroverts - Lee Morgan

  10. #10
    Fortissimo User
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Lloyd Harbor NY.

    Re: Opening up quietly

    Part of my routing is 20-30 minutes of soft playing, barely audible at times. Unfortunately being self-taught I cannot adequately describe what I do and how I do it suffice it to say that it was acheived after great effort.

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