Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

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Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

Post  Oliver Hix on Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:44 pm

Mr. Vizzutti-

Thank you very much for the opportunity to ask questions about trumpet issues. I value your opinion highly. I have questions in three areas.

1. Does tongue position do anything for pitch? Adam Rapa has videos where he talks about it and it makes sense that the tongue controls either the air speed or the pitch at which the mouth will resonate. But on trumpetherald, someone said the following:
' Completely disprovable and requiring a reversal of physical/natural law to "work"...

In other words IF what Adam is saying is really going on in his trumpet playing "system"? Then it is just as possible that the Earth's gravity could reverse on his own demand. That some force could pull him, you, or me or me into outer space at any given time due only to his own whim. '

He argues that tongue level advocates are fraudulent. What are your thoughts on the topic?

2. I have developed a problem of throat tension even when trying to play a middle c, and anything above. I think this developed when a professor had me doing things that made me very tense and made playing difficult and labored. Do you have any thoughts on how to correct this problem? I have been doing hatha yoga breathing for general tension removal, but perhaps there's something else I should do. I just know I can't say to myself, 'ok, keep the throat open' because it subconsciously gets tense.

3. I had my wisdom teeth in May out and didn't play for 2 weeks, not one note. When I got back to the horn, my range was better, it was easier to play up to an e flat above middle c (not very high I know) with no problem. Since then I have never felt as fresh. Can I be tiring myself out to the max? I don't feel tired and the tone is rich and clear but I feel like range (and other things) aren't getting better. Should I take 2 weeks off again? How do I know when to stop practicing for the day or when I've gone too far?

I have been working on learning to play without extreme amounts of pressure for some time now and am becoming concerned that my lack of progress indicates something is wrong with what I am doing. I stopped taking lessons with my professor because his instructions seemed to be hurting. Any words you can offer on these subjects or any others would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks

Aaron.

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Tongue, Throat, Fatigue - (G rated)

Post  Allen_Vizzutti on Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:34 pm

Wow. These questions are important but a challenge to deal with via forum text.
1) Tongue position and pitch. It does affect pitch but not much. If one drops the tongue while playing in the upper middle to high register it will cause the pitch to go flat. It is a common flaw. It will do the same down low but we need to drop the tongue for the lowest notes to get a big sound, just not too much. This is partly caused by sympathetic jaw movement - tongue goes down - jaw goes down - note goes flat. Use your ears.

Mouth resonating is a foreign concept to me. I don't even know to what that refers.

Tongue placement does affect air speed just like a garden hose nozzle affects water speed when the water pressure is constant and the aperture is changed by adjusting the size of the nozzle hole by tightening and loosening it. Tighten and the water goes faster and farther. Open and the water flows slower and falls at your feet. Tongue placement is a factor in air speed and upper register control but only works in conjunction with other factors that must be functioning in a natural and correct way. These factors include mouthpiece size, smooth and steady air support and control of left hand and right hand finger ring pressure against the embouchure. Control of these factors is done by simple experimentation and sane exercises and studies. The results of tongue placement affect range more than pitch. (See "High Notes" book on this web site).

Keep in mind, tongue placement for a pro player with good range is not so crucial on a high C for instance as for a junior high kid who is just learning that range. Wayne Bergeron can play high G with his tongue any where he wants. He will still use consistent placement without thinking about it for ease and a big sound with control. His good habit however he learned it. Someone just learning that register can benefit greatly from tongue arch high and forward especially while experimenting with "new" notes.

2) Regarding "tight throat" consider: There are no muscles in our anatomy designed to relax the throat. The only way for relaxation to happen is to...ah....relax. I'm not being facetious. You must let the muscles around the chest, throat and neck relax. Don't DO anything preconceived except breath. If you TRY to relax your throat you only increase tension. You might as well think about something else. Don't let the trumpet become a touchstone for tension. Physically the best thing to concentrate on when you feel the sensation you describe as throat tension is to focus on taking deep, relaxed breaths, then blowing in a relaxed and steady fashion not concerning yourself with tight corners and power. Focus on the sound you're making. The sooner you get out of your own way the more control and power you will have.

3) I am sorry to tell you that the phenomenon of being able to play really well the day after coming back from a long break is normal and happens to every one I have ever asked about it. I think it has something to do with the flesh being more supple than when we are playing regularly. Just practice daily with sanity, take breaks, practice shorter times more than once a day...whatever seems to float your boat. Use general common sense. If techniques of practice or certain ideas from books and other players work well for you, stick with them. If you hit the wall or find some of the studies making you stiff or worse - move on to something else. The fundamentals of trumpet playing will never change yet there will always be the caveat that we are all to some degree different.
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Re: Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

Post  Oliver Hix on Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:01 pm

Thank you so much for your advice. I'll be sure to keep these things in mind when practicing (actually, just today I noticed that becoming aware of my shoulders arms and chest and making sure they are relaxed helped A LOT, as did keeping in mind the relaxed steady breathing you talked about in the trumpet clinic videos on youtube).

I've noticed some different things over the past few days and was wondering if I could share them with you to see what you think.

One day I noticed that really thinking about the tongue helped a lot and I was able to play softer and higher than usual. Then Friday it just wasn't working at all, so I stopped thinking about the tongue and just played some little tunes, thinking only about the sound I wanted to hear. Then yesterday I did the same. However, I noticed some difficulties playing soft. So I had some new questions:

Is there a certain amount of time it should take to learn to play without relying on mouthpiece pressure after doing so all throughout middle school and high school? If so, how long is that? Does my previous reliance on pressure put me impossibly behind in terms of facial strength and also control?

The other thing involves pitch bending. Some times pitch bending really opens up the sound and makes playing easier, sometimes it makes me feel REALLY stiff and tired. A few weeks ago some particular bending exercises I was doing (finger a low c# but sound a low b natural really soft, and go back and forth between bent c# and actual b natural, matching tone if possible) helped a ton and I could play very soft with a great sound. Then that stopped working after doing it for a few days. Then it worked again after a week or so of not doing it, etc. Is this normal? What are your thoughts on pitch bending (how tiring should it be, how much to do it, does it actually do anything)? Also how important it is to practice soft stuff, and how much should I just play with a full volume? Maurice Andre said something like 'practice pianissimo' but does that mean all the time? I admit I usually have trouble playing soft even in the low register, but I can get a big fat sound down there. Is there a danger to playing too much in the low register? I do notice drastic changes in the way my face looks and feels on different days when trying to play soft and low- some days I can get soft but the face feels very pulled back and 'smiley', other days (like when the pitch bending thing is working well) it looks and feels like I'm not doing anything at all, my face seems very focused forward (but more importantly it sounds GREAT). Is this normal? Should I ditch the pitch bending? I'd say it's been about 7 months since I hit rock bottom and forgot how to play trumpet enough to try to re-learn and build up again 'correctly'. How much progress can be seen in such a time?

I have found a great deal of progress with Clarke technical studies in the past. Do you have thoughts on those? Should I play only the ones that I can play soft (basically the first line of the first study) or should I play lots of them at a comfortable volume in a comfortable range? Can one overdo those?

I apologize for the length of these posts but I figure it would be foolish of me to not take advantage of a great opportunity to hear from a great trumpet player. After I stopped taking lessons with the professor here I have felt somewhat unsure of what to do, what to practice, whether I'm improving, etc. I guess my discovering this forum came at a great time because lately I've been wondering if I'm wasting my time and energy every day trying to at least get my playing back to where it was (and ideally WAY beyond that). Again, I thank you for your advice I can't express how highly I value what you have to say.

Aaron.


Last edited by Oliver Hix on Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added a thought)

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Re: Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

Post  Allen_Vizzutti on Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:20 pm

Drastic inconsistencies in one's playing is not normal, Clarke, pitch bending and playing softly are all usually very beneficial. I play Clarke or Vizzutti technical studies every day. I have been using Clarke daily since of was 12 or so. It is possible to over do, over blow, under blow and use too much pressure. Understanding when you're over doing any of these things is up to you. No one else can tell.

Playing low notes for a long tong opens the aperture such that it may be difficult to play on top of the staff. Take a rest. Playing softly for a long time is usually great but if you are getting a weak sound, or are pinching and tense play louder. Rodney Dangerfield, a great old comedian said, "Doc! It's hurts whenever I do this!" His doctor said, "Don't do that!" If some material is not working for you, don't do it, at least for a while. If you're practicing 4 hours a day without much growth it's probably too much. If you're practicing 20 minutes a day it's probably too little.

You are definitely over thinking in my opinion. Be practical. Use a practical daily warm up. If you don't know what to do look at my method book. in the front of books 1,2&3 is the same tried and true warm up that has benefitted a lot of players according to 20 years of feed back. (Allen Vizzutti Trumpet Method. Alfred Publications)

Consider the following excerpt from my "High Notes" book.

The basics of trumpet playing are not complicated. The combined elements of personality, physique, equipment and concept create myriad variations affecting how successfully, (or often unsuccessfully), we achieve a consistently high level of trumpet performance. Regardless of how long you have been playing trumpet, and for the sake of clarity, I believe revisiting some relevant basic concepts and physical facts regarding trumpet performance is important.

Consider the following list:

1) Air flow / breath support
2) Mouthpiece on lip pressure
3) Mouthpiece placement
4) Aperture size, (the opening between the lips)
5) (Managing your), State of tension / relaxation
6) Tongue placement and
7) Mouthpiece size

The correct BALANCE of the listed elements is essential to successful tone production. Ponder that. All elements listed must work together in the correct proportion. None of the elements can successfully work alone. None are static during tone production except number seven, mouthpiece size.

The goal is to balance the following elements in your playing:

1) mouthpiece-on-lip pressure,
2) steady, ‘insistent’ air support and
3) aperture control,

in order to increase air speed and air turbulence, in the most relaxed way possible, thereby achieving maximum result with minimal physical effort.

Working with the concepts and exercises in this book should enhance your upper register and your trumpet playing skills in general. Ultimately, through repetitive practice, we want the process to be natural and primarily second nature so that the focus can be on the wonderful experience of making and sharing music.


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Re: Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

Post  Oliver Hix on Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:20 pm

Ok thank you very much. I'll definitely be getting those books soon. I've noticed good results from yesterday to today keeping in mind what you said. I have a tendency to over think things all the time so I'll avoid that.

Thanks again

Aaron.

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Re: Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

Post  bach180s37 on Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:09 pm

First off I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!
Learning to relax for me has been a real challenge. I'm a come back player who has been practicing 3-4 hours a day for the last year with a private teacher for the last year. One thing I have been getting better at is relaxing. Pedel tones used to be non-existent and now they are coming out easier and sounding fuller. Middle range is sounding more mature and my high range up to Eb above the staff is a lot easier. I don't get tired and can play all around my range and really own the notes rather than just hitting them.

Now I guess my question is on my range. I have the same range I did when I was in high school about 10 years ago. I just sound a lot better below and above the staff. How long on average does it take the higher range to develop? I really was to play an E really bad. It has been a road block for way to long.(that and seeing kids on you tube doesn't help either) Either way if never go above Eb I will be perfectly happy with playing the trumpet. It's a great instrument and I love trying to make music on the thing. Just curious( Hope curiousity doesn't kill the trumpet player as it killed the cat.)

Thanks,
Joshua
P.S. Ritzville is awesome!!!! Buy it if you get the chance!
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Tongue arch an hose nozzle comparison

Post  kalijah on Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:09 pm

Allen wrote:
Tongue placement does affect air speed just like a garden hose nozzle affects water speed when the water pressure is constant and the aperture is changed by adjusting the size of the nozzle hole by tightening and loosening it.



The water pressure is not constant in this analogy of a garden hose. The pressure varies at the nozzle due to increased losses for greater flow. If the pressure at the nozzle were constant you would indeed get the same velocity for various sizes of openings.

There is not the same relation to air over a tongue arch. While the air velocity over an arch may (or may not) be greater than without (all other things being equal). It adds no velocity anywhere else. Nor does it increase the energy or pressure of the air acting on the playing aperture.


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Garden Hose analogy.

Post  Allen_Vizzutti on Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:11 pm

In spite of my seemingly unclear previous explanation regarding the garden hose analogy, the garden hose example refers to the aperture size and it's effect, not the tongue placement. AV
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Re: Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

Post  kalijah on Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:37 pm

Yes. I think that is more of an apropriate comparison for visualization purposes.

But. One can not assume that the velocity through an aperture always varies with size. The garden hose nozzle behaves in a particular way due to ALL variables involved. Namely the long narrow supply path (the hose pipe). The same set of variables do not exist for the playing aperture.

From a simple (pure) flow standpoint. The air velocity through a lip aperture is not likely to vary with size but rather varies with the pressure of the air supply.

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Re: Tongue, Throat, Fatigue

Post  Allen_Vizzutti on Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:25 am

The example is based on air pressure being consistent as humanly possible.
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