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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Relaxing in the General forums; Most of the time I have a workable range up to about D above the staff. This is fine in ...
  1. #1
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    Most of the time I have a workable range up to about D above the staff. This is fine in ensemble work and practising but if it comes to playing a solo or even just in my lesson I can feel myself tense up and my range is limited to about an A above the staff. If I do get higher the sound is often strangled and not as free as I know I can play.

    My teacher has just told me to relax which is all well and good but HOW DO I DO IT?!

    I seriously have no idea.

  2. #2
    Mezzo Forte User mgcoleman's Avatar
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    Jun 2010

    Re: Relaxing

    Two items to offer:
    1) Well, yes, becoming more comfortable playing in front of others will help. Knowing you are out front for all to hear (or just your teacher) can intimidate players. Know your stuff cold, trust it and just go for it. If you hit a clam, the world will not end.
    2) If you need D above the staff, then you should be practicing such that you are pushing range to at least E. If you train and practice to a higher standard, your ability to perform a notch or two below that level, in theory, becomes easier. If it is easier, you have more confidence. If you have more confiidence, you will execute in a more relaxed and better manner.
    kingtrumpet likes this.
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  3. #3
    Piano User JNINWI's Avatar
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    Apr 2011

    Re: Relaxing

    Tension is a trumpet players enemy, it will stop your sound, ruin your intonation, lower your range…you name it and it will do it to you. I have a student with this problem. It has taken me a lot of time talking her through relaxing while playing. She does benefit by watching herself practice in a full length mirror, and remove the tension in muscle groups that she doesn’t use to play. Shoulders not scrunched up, instead back and down, chin and neck not jutting out, instead back and down, face muscles not all tightened up, instead relaxed, etc… It has helped her greatly, as you can easily spot this while watching yourself. mgcolman is giving you very good advice also !!

  4. #4
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    Re: Relaxing

    Hold your head up high. Sit solid and breath deep sighs 3-4 times before you start to play. It fills the lungs to maximum capacity and provides fresh oxygen to the brain. It helps you relax because inspiration gives fresh oxygen and exhalation gets rid of Co2, Co, & H2O, the breakdown molecules of Glucose. In other words it detoxes us. When we are tense we tend to breath shallower. When we sigh we are breathing deeply. Simple physiology and it works. Have you ever heard the phrase, "Sigh of relief?" That were it comes from.
    Sigh 4 times, then, 1 and a 2 and 3 and a play!

  5. #5
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    Flinders Vic Australia

    Re: Relaxing

    Edwindle, how long have you been playing? I went through this when I came back to playing after a gap of 36 years, playing 3rd part in a community concert band I would be fine at reahersal but at a performance it would take several bars before I could even get the trumpet to sound. This was a subconcious performancy anxiety I think, it just happened. As my playing improved it went away. I would not play a solo for years, even a written one for the same reason.

    The above posts all contain good advice which has helped me. Now my warm up before a performance consists of two deep breaths and hearing the sound of the first note in my head. I have also changed my whole approach to playing, but that is another story.

    Rowuk's circle of breath has helped me greatly to remove tension.

    Regards, Stuart.

  6. #6
    Utimate User gmonady's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Dayton, Ohio

    Re: Relaxing

    Use Rowuk's Circle of Breathing, and relax!!! As noted above, tension is your enemy. If you are tense, you are not letting your breathing work for you. The key is work. It is more efficient to let your lower respiratory muscles work for you than you face muscles. After all that is why God created the diaphragm, and intercostal muscle groups. God's work is truly our own!

    By the way, welcome to TM, Amen!
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    Re: Relaxing

    Thank you for all the replies.
    Rowuk's circle of breathing combined with videos by Greg Spence (what a great resource!) have helped me to realise I've been simply muscling my way up into the upper register. Although as I'm between leaving sixth form and going to university I have no tutor to check with, the approach I'm finding easier involves simply letting the air flow and adjusting my embouchure and tongue position to attain the pitch I want.

    I have all of a rainy looking summer to find and learn the positions of these notes and I've certainly discovered muscles I didn't know existed.

  8. #8
    Utimate User turtlejimmy's Avatar
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    Jun 2010

    Re: Relaxing

    The most stress inducing thing about trumpet playing for me, a by ear guitar player and drummer for 40 years, is reading music. Take that out of the equation for me and I relax, almost completely, as relaxed as I am drumming or guitar playing (at least in the practice room, put an audience in front of me and those dynamics can change, depending).

    That's why my long tones and lip slurs (where I'm not following any written material) are relaxed with a big tone, as are my sometimes long improvising sessions where I play along with the radio. Stick written music in front of me and all h*** beaks loose. Not really, but stress comes in with the reading and doesn't leave until I stop looking at notes on paper. I'm serious, it's such a problem for me that I'm thinking of giving up reading and turning the trumpet into a play by ear only instrument.

    Disclaimer: I'm not recommending this for anyone. However, there are occasionally great trumpeters from the past who did not read music.

    Last edited by turtlejimmy; 07-13-2012 at 10:31 AM.
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  9. #9
    Utimate User tedh1951's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
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    Re: Relaxing

    All of the above is valid for all of us.

    The comeback track for me gave the very same anxieties as Stumac and solos are still a beast to avoid - although I do like the 2nd tumpet one in one of the MacArthur Park arrangements (it's middle of the stave though).

    Dave Monette's and Jason Harrelson's approach to focussed centered playing is very helpful (see their respective websites). Sitting on a stool rather than a chair also assists - you don't slouch against the back and posture is better - circle of breathing assists too (it also lowers your blood pressure I've found) - my Doctor was a little surprised but when I told him I played trumpet he understood.

    I find the best way to relax it to start by feeling the tension in my neck and shoulders and then just dropping my shoulders - instant relief, I then lightly tension only the corners of my mouth, run silently through a couple of scales to relax the fingers, loosen the grip on the left hand like you do with golf - where tension is also the killer, I plant my feet FLAT on the floor (shoulder width apart if standing), and then address the music looking for accidentals, key changes, mute insertion points, and I finish by lightly humming the introductory bars which lets me hear the first note in my head.

    Drop the shoulders and the place the elbows as if you are leaning on your kitchen table eating toast. I'll be interested to see how you go if you don't mind?
    turtlejimmy likes this.

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  10. #10
    Mezzo Forte User bigtiny's Avatar
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    Aug 2005

    Re: Relaxing

    It's all about air. Breathe deeply and slowly when you're not playing and feel your body relax. You might want to consider starting a meditation practice
    for 10 mins - 1/2 hour a day.

    tedh1951 likes this.

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