I really empathize. The comeback road is really difficult, especially if you accomplished something in your youth i.e., competitions etc.
The approach I have had with my teacher is to start from scratch building good habits. I started on Etude #1 in the Sigmund Herring book and have going forward from there. I am playing them at a very slow pace (60 bbm). At the beginning of the week I can barely get through the assigned Etude as the muscles of the embouchure are burning just like weightlifting. By the end of the week before the next lesson, I become more efficient at playing the piece through proper breathing and better embouchure control and can get through the Etude several times. I was 13 (now 48) the last time did these things and it is indeed discouraging at times.
As for the mid-range difficulty check this out. I am currently on Etude #22 bars 21 to 28includes lips slurs with those very notes. For the first couple of days the lack of control and split notes were awful. I was even wincing at myself inside, and so totally embarrassed my family had to hear it. At mid-week, I am much better (far from perfect but much better). Again, I am playing it very slowly (60 bbm) to develop breathing and embouchure control. I will do this for 30 minutes and rest 30 minutes. When I come back for the second phase I do one of the lessons from the Rubank Elementary Method Book, still playing very slowly to rebuild the basics of breathing and tone quality. I am now on Lesson 9. Each lesson includes a variety of exercises for different skills. I can get through that in about 15-20 minutes, resting between exercises. I save the last 10 minutes to learn the pedal tones and warm down. I purchased Eric Bolvins' lesson on this. Never heard of pedal tones as a kid and my teacher is a reeds person who conducts the local military band and she does not know them either. But, there seems to be a consensus that they are very important, so I have dedicated some time to them. Eric provides a terrific model to learn from.
When I started on my own, I spent all of my time practicing range. That increased fast but still had no endurance. Endurance increased more slowly. When I got a teacher and started practicing Etudes slowly, I realized that playing scales for range and actually playing music are really two different things. I had no control and endurance at all for music. I have not done anything for range in a while, and I am too spent after practice to try. But, I somehow feel it is getting better as I gain control and play music in a range that was once difficult for me before. It is now not so much about the top notes I can hit. I am starting to stretch my playing range, very slowly.
I only offer this information to let you know that it is indeed a slow battle.
What I always recommend for comeback players is to find a church hymnal, and play the hymn melodies. They're generally pleasant pieces and written in easy enough keys that non-musicians can sing them. By playing them, and other melodic material, you will find yourself making MUSIC almost right away, and if you're of the mind, you might even find some inspiration from the texts. Once you can play any hymn in the book, you're ready to graduate to more difficult material.
The Salvation Army has much in the way of good hymn arrangements for their services that can be purchased for home use. I'm thinking of the "Red Book" of 100 some hymns that we often use for warm ups in our brass bands.
The intermediate trumpet study books (like Rubank) also had good material for this mid-level playing ability.
Above all, DON'T strain to play high... It'll come of its own accord, as you develop your lower range.
Hope this helps!
Cannot say how much I appreciate the excellent, abundant advice and the clear authority from which it is offered. Humbling and almost overwhelming.
I can already see faults in my approach and technique after thinking through how I play and then playing a bit more, in comparison to the comments provided.
I am neither breathing enough nor correctly - basics. That mid-range E to G was something taken for granted way back when. Not back to that level yet. I caught myself "planning" when moving up into the upper range and the results are better there - better breathing and posture. Regardless, I need to focus upon and work this area in practice. The slurring up in that area is where it really shows. Slurring up from that E to G is more difficult than going from that G to C.
Well, I'm just rambling. Need to go apply these lessons instead.
Thanks again, to each of you for your time and priceless guidance.
And yes, it is that plateau business that has really been frustrating during this comeback effort. Making some strong gains and then making no progress at all for a good while...yeah, patience...got it.
So I need to add alcohol and milk to my horn? Which end? I did ebay an Olds Ambassador several months ago which smelled sorta sweet and funky when I pulled it out of the case. The valves weren't real smooth or fast...just figured they needed a cleaning and some oil. As I began to take the horn apart for its bath, I found blue chewing gum in the valve guides and springs. I still wonder how it got there...
Last edited by Jackson Arch; 05-19-2010 at 11:28 PM.
You must put both to get the full effect. A White Russian will take care of both at once if you want to save time.
King 600 (first horn)
Taylor Chicago 46 VR (my baby)
"Trumpet playing isn't rocket science...because we know how to make rockets."
If you have an Irish background, you should use equal quantities of Milk and Guinness, If Fijian then it's Coconut Milk and Kava, and if you are a Drop Bear just plain old straight Eucalyptus Oil is the go.
A notion that continues to help me is to approach each note from the top - I don't try to "come up to a note", I attempt to approach it from above, it's a mental process all the way, oh, and the plateaux are not evenly spaced or of the same duration - keep at it, join a band, you'll get there .
If you find you have difficulty in a particular range, then THAT's the range in which you should concentrate your efforts. If you can slur from G to C easily but not E to G, then concentrate your playing in that range. Take some lower studies up an octave or a fifth to make sure that most of your playing is in that troublesome range.
This is also a way of extending your range! Try playing a tune that's in a comfortable range. Then try transposing it up a step at a time until you reach a point where it's not happening. Make a note of that onset of difficulty, and go on to something else. Then, the next day, do it again, maybe starting up a couple of steps, but again try to get up to where you ran into difficulties before. Keep a log of your progress, and keep at it until you push your abilities into the range you want to be.
This also applies to going DOWN as well... I know I had difficulties with the second trumpet part of the Verdi Requiem many (MANY) years ago, where there's a fanfare that starts way down low, with a triplet figure. I couldn't tongue it cleanly down there. I could do it fine up a few notes, so I tried sneaking up on it by doing it a half step lower each time, until I couldn't. I kept after it for a few weeks, and by the concert I had my lick well in hand.
Don't fall into the attractive trap of practicing what comes easily. Practice what you CAN'T do until you CAN!
Hope that helps SOMEBODY!!
ps. Our guidance isn't "priceless". The price is heavy: you have to help others with their problems when you are able to do so, for the rest of your life!! BWAAAAAAaaHAAAAHAAAAAHHAaaaaaahaaaahaaahh!!! <gasp! > <choke!>
Lots of interesting stuff in this thread.
If I had to guess based on the original post, I would be willing to bet that you actually have two separate chop settings and you are likely unconsciously transitioning between the two. This is a fairly common thing for novice players - I did it for a long time, and even still do to a degree, although I'm conscious of the fact that I do it.
Example - for setting one, you set your chops nice and open so that you have a nice, full round tone in your lower register. The downside is that for that chops setting, you are approaching the top end around E/F at the top of the staff, and that's also why it's zapping your endurance.
Then you have your second chops setting and you subconsciously set differently for that - your aperture is a bit tighter and the mouthpiece might even be in a slightly different place on your chops. At this point, the starting point for that setting is in your G/A range, and it allows you to play up to C/D. It's a more efficient setting and as a result, you actually have better endurance while playing in this range of the horn.
Of course I'm not an expert, or a chops doc or anything of the sort - I'm only making a guess based on some things I have discovered on my own over years of being self-taught. This might not even be close to what's happening to you, although it would make sense. A friend of mine (who is a chops doc) suggested to me that I should set for my upper register and learn how to use the same setting down low, and I have made an effort to do that since given that advice, which has helped all around.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity"
"At my signal, unleash hell."
- Maximus Decimus Meridius
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