Trumpet Discussion Discuss Tension in the Head in the General forums; Hello,
I have a question concerning range and head tension. For about a week now, I have been doing some ...
Tension in the Head
I have a question concerning range and head tension. For about a week now, I have been doing some breathing exercises every day before taking out the mouthpiece. They were passed on to my director and now shared with me. Exercises like inhaling and exhaling counted breaths, gradually increasing in counts, the vacuum resistance exercise, and the visual dynamic exercise. I have also recently been starting with a few minutes of free-buzzing after the breathing. I haven't noticed any changes concerning the breathing, and I don't expect to for a while. My free-buzzing ,however, is getting stronger each day, and my tone is gradually improving.
But in these last few days, I have noticed a negative change. I am not sure what the root of this problem is, but I suspect it may have something to do with the breathing exercises, as I have just incorporated them of late. It seems when I work up into the upper register, my brain feels like it is expanding, and it becomes especially noticeable when doing lips slurs in the upper register. It's like there is tension in my head, (how did it get there?).
It may also have something to do with the fact that I no longer use as much mouthpiece pressure as I used to, so I figure that I am likely using faster air to compensate for the lack of pressure. Under normal circumstances, I should think these changes are good and will reap benefits with time, but I am not enjoying this tension in the head. Something is not right. I think I need to somehow take that tension out of my head and put it in my stomach and chest.
I would sincerely appreciate it if you could answer, where is the tension supposed to go? It doesn't seem like it can disappear all together.
Also, how do I focus the tension in a positive way, once it is where it is supposed to be?
Thanks in advance!
Re: Tension in the Head
As often happens with non-musical, physical approaches you are creating a blockage when there is no horn or mouthpiece to provide resisitance for you. The mouthpiece and horn combination usually do that anyway, to a certain extent, but you've started initiating a pattern where that happens before you've introduced that combination.
You are bearing down unnecesarily like you do when you sit on the toilet. That is not useful for expelling air freely into a brass instrument but it is great for creating head rushes. You are activating tension in the abdomen that is not useful and it is going up to the neck and head area causing the tension you describe.
You certainly can create a decent sound while engaging in this activity but you will be uncomfortable and it's inefficient. You should be blowing freely into the instrument and not causing more impedance than there already will be with the mouthpiece and horn combo.
I will wager that you believe the stomach should be hard when you breathe out. That belief will slow your advancement. Like I said, sure, you can get a decent sound out but it's inefficient and just exhausts you physically.
Look at videos of Al Vizzuti and Sergei Najakarov to see how easily the trumpet can be played. Doc is also wonderfully efficient. Also, Maurice André.
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