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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Staying relaxed while playing in the General forums; I'd like to know what you guys who play (read: Perform, gig) a lot do to combat tension creeping in ...
  1. #1
    Pianissimo User BobList's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Baltimore, Md.

    Staying relaxed while playing

    I'd like to know what you guys who play (read: Perform, gig) a lot do to combat tension creeping in on the job... it's fairly easy in the practice room, but in the middle of a set, there's no stopping and taking a big cleansing breathe and a bit of

    A trumpeter's biggest enemies are tension, and fatigue.

    I've found that if I have to gig while under the weather a bit, or really tired, makes me sort of "not care", and the performance is usually one of my BEST..maybe the mental shrugging off of the day keeps me relaxed...and not TRYING SO HARD...

    When having fun, and being really pumped up might let other guys play like Maynard, I find I need to relax in that situation..

    And yes, two Budwiesers (no more) seem to really

    Bob List, Bawlmer, Murlyn
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  2. #2
    Utimate User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    I think this could be a fascinating discussion because I think everyone is going to have a different story to bring to the table.

    When I was much younger I used to experience the same as you. If I was really "up" for something I found it hard to control that and I would overshoot notes, a bit like riding a spirited, untamed horse. I remember how wild Nolan Ryan was when he first came up and was pitching for the Mets. Blistering speed but unpredictable.

    With study and visual examples of great players around, it was interesting to see how every one of the players I saw were calm and decisive in what they did, how they played. Herseth is a prime example, Maynard is another.

    It's that study of the calm yet powerful players that has done me the most good over the years. Seeing Bud and hearing him in my head before I play is one of the single biggest calming influences on my performing.

    From a physiological perspective, it was learning and then understanding how nervousnes can affect you only when you allow groups of muscles to antagonize each other as though you were lifting a great weight that made your muscles shake. Keeping your body in a position that keeps you resting on your frame (your bones) alleviates that nervousness. If you stand/sit in a way that invites your muscles to stiffen athletically, one set will eventually start to try to dominate the situation. That's when the antagonism begins and the muscles fight. Can you play with one leg staning. Yes. Is that optimal? No. You were designed to have an equal footing so that your body is in balance. Your body can compensate in many ways but that's just it: it's compensating instead of working optimally.

    Can you play scrunched over? Yes. Is it optimal? No.

    Can you play with shallow breaths? Yes. Is it optimal? No.

    Can you play with a tight gut? Yes. Is it optimal? No.

    All those things contribute to letting you feel a physical manifestation of your mental state. It's one thing to feel anxious about a performance, its' another to allow your body to show your anxiety with quivering, shallow breaths, etc.

    So, I like to go into a show these days "up" instead of lax because I can control my body much better than many years ago. I like that "up" feeling to manifest itself as a musical product. Energy, calm energy, helps me stay focused.

    So, visualization of an inspiring musical example is my way to stay calm along with the practical application of good physical habits conducive to good wind playing.


  3. #3
    Piano User
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    Along with what Manny said, I'd add 'technical proficiency' to the list. You've got to know how to play and you've got to know music well. I guess you could call it confidence. For Manny, Doc, Maynard---any of the top level pros, if the piece starts going to hell in a handbasket because of the band, they just adjust. You'd never know about it because they can follow (and cover up) most of the goofs that are made when it comes to timing and phrasing. This is something that comes with time, lots of experience and practice.
    Gabriel is NOT a woodwind player!

  4. #4
    Forte User B15M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    When I think about it and relax I can last a long time. After that time is over I can feel my body getting tighter.

    Sometimes when I play with the local Union band they play very loud. I try to keep up and forget everything. That's when I have the biggest trouble.

    In the last year I have really learned to calm down my playing regardless of what the rest of the band is doing and I consciously think about relaxing. When I am able to do that I last way longer.

    When ever I play lead with a new big band and I haven't seen the music before I drink a cup of coffee on the way to the job. It may just be me but I can read the parts and still stay relaxed physically. (If the parts are really hard I get tight before I play a note)

  5. #5
    Mezzo Piano User Derek Reaban's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    I’ve dealt with this issue myself and found several areas where the tension finds its way to enter my playing. For me, understanding how a spread embouchure can creep into my playing gave me the opportunity to explore a number of “tension” issues. You might enjoy reading about a topic that I posted called Focused Awareness.
    Derek Reaban
    Tempe, Arizona

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