Advice please?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by sterlingsop, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. sterlingsop

    sterlingsop Member

    I've done a search in the forum for the answer to this problem but I seem to be alone with it so I'm asking it for myself!

    My problem started about 12 months ago, where occasionally I got pains in my head after playing certain high notes (D's, Eb's F's etc which I have been playing in the range of for ever). Gradually the problem has got worse and now I'm at the stage where it is EVERY time I play above even a top A I get severe pains in my head.

    I'm fairly certain my technique is sound because I'm blowing properly and have got proper support from my diaphragm and everything, but these pains are getting to be a bit of a concern. In the early days, the pain would only be there for the duration of the note or for perhaps a minute or so after, but more recently it's lasted much longer. I'm raising the question now because last night I played a couple of top C's (nothing spectacular) and the pain was incredible. It was still there this morning too, which is a first. It's not like a headache-type pain, although I do get a headache afterwards, and it is usually centered in the same place in my head.

    Has anyone else experienced this, or can anyone offer any advice please?
  2. Keppler

    Keppler Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds unusal Pam

    While sticking a big hunk of metal against your face and blowing the bejesus out of it might not be the most natural thing in the world, what you're experiencing is not normal.

    I, and any of the rest of the non-medical type tMPers would advise - see a doctor methinks.

    Someone else may be able to have some other advice.
  3. imthemaddude

    imthemaddude Active Member

    Yes I agree with Keps - could it be your teeth? Sometimes I get that sort of effect when my teeth need a trip to the dentist. It does seem like you need to see a doctor - even if it is nothing, it's uncomfortable when you play and so something needs to be done.
  4. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Read this link. And then go see your doctor. Its better to be safe than sorry.

    I have a relative who once had a very, very small pressure related bleed in his brain. Luckily it had no permanent affect but he was hospitalised and had to remain horizontal in bed for a few weeks. These things are far too dangerous to ignore, please don't just carry on and think they will go away.

    I've always thought that the sop is a very bad instrument for raising blood pressure if you don't have the technique to play it without straining. The only times i've had a go on it it made me dizzy and gave me a headache.

    I once watched one of the very best sop players on a very cold day. As usual he was totally relaxed, even when playing the highest notes, but because of the weather you could actually see the changes in his blood pressure - the higher the note the further up his head went the pink colour - just like a thermometer.

    Hopefully your problem is temporary and not blood pressure related - but if not, at least you have the whole range of lower instruments that you can move onto.
  5. HorniKaz

    HorniKaz Supporting Member

    Hi Pam

    This definately sounds like you should get yourself off to the doctors. It may be something or nothing, but its best to find out. I have occasionally had it where my head hurts when playing high &/or loud but it has never continued for any length of time. Please mate, get some advice.
  6. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Hi Pam,

    Although I'm no medical expert I would suggest that you don't play again until you have spoken to or been examined by your GP. Better to be safe than sorry.

  7. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Obviously it goes without saying to visit a doctor!

    However, you could try something just to determine if you are "straining" too much when playing these nots (on Eb or Bb, you didn't say which). I've seen players litteraly "burst a gut" to play upper register (usually without much success, tone/tuning etc..!)

    Look in the mirror when you are playing to detmine whether you are putting too much effort in to these upper register notes. This could be a contributary factor in these pains.
    Less is more when it comes to playing in the upper register.!!!

    If you find you are straining unnecessarily to play these notes, the chances are that you need to work more on your breathing (Check out Claude Gordons book, Brass Playing is no harder than Deep Breathing)

    Also, try to breath in tempo, exhaling always before inhaling, (deep breaths too) as it ensures that your lungs always take in fresh air. If you keep topping up your air, you will have "stale" air in you lungs (i.e. air with no oxygen), which (I'm no doctor/medical expert) may also contribute to dizzyness/headaches.. try holding your breath for a long time? Are the effects similar?

    Anyway, best of luck..hope you get sorted out soon.
  8. sterlingsop

    sterlingsop Member

    Thanks for all your advice everyone. I was rather hoping that it would be something experienced by other players too, but it seems I'm alone on this one!

    I'm not sure whether to be more or less worried now - the bbc report from BigHorn has frightened me a bit but David Quinlan's advice seems more realistic! Hey ho, I will get myself checked out sooner rather than later and will watch it in the meantime.

    Thanks chaps xx
  9. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    This might sound obvious...but perhaps you should visit your dentist too? Without knowing too much about your particular problem, it may be something like your teeth moving slightly or something.
  10. sterlingsop

    sterlingsop Member

    Good point - I have been having trouble with my wisdom teeth on one side of my jaw, and as a consequence I've been getting a click on that side too. I wonder if there's something there that's causing a build up of pressure? Could be, but it looks like I'm going to have to get something checked out before it gets much worse. Especially with the contest season about to start!
  11. Seedhouse

    Seedhouse Active Member

    Perhaps I could offer some advice being in a similar position when I first started playing around 4/5 years back. This was something that I used to encounter on a random basis, I used to suffer splitting pains in my head, dizziness- all resulting in me needing to stop playing for a few seconds, or altogether for a few hours!

    In despair (I couldn't have anything preventing my from practicing!!!), I quickly got in contact with my teacher and asked him what was wrong, and he quickly summed it up as using "head pressure!" (bit of a naff name really!)

    I was breathing too shallowly (which I know isn't a word!), filling my lungs from the top, rather than breathing deeply and filling from the base of the lungs, and also at the same time using a lot of pressure- pulling the Instrument towards me and pushing back against it (!?), to squeeze every single high note out of the instrument as possible- often resulting in me nearly collapsing in a heap on the floor!

    This was therefore something that was easily remedied. I just taught myself to use less and less pressure over time, and obviously practice breathing deeply, which therefore rectified the problem and allowed me to practice to my hearts content!

    Obviously if it occurs a lot, then you could probably result in damage- i.e. the BBC report, but if it is something that has only occured a short while then no need to worry.
    I was lucky to get mine sorted out reasonably quickly, but I know of some players who have accepted it as something that "just occurs when they play."

    Hope this helps, but if you are still feeling unsure I would definately go and have a chat with your GP,

    Best wishes,

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