"Clinician" sought

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Mrs Fruity, Mar 26, 2006.

  1. Mrs Fruity

    Mrs Fruity Member

    Help! I'm trying to find someone to help me with an annoying problem which I seem to be developing at a rate of knots. It has troubled me greatly once or twice in the past but I thought it had gone!

    I have trouble with my breath control in quiet sections of music, and also have trouble producing notes quietly (especially under stress).I know it's a common problem and I feel daft asking for advice, as I should be able to cure it myself- I think I just need someone to look at the problem objectively and say "Yes, it's due to...x" and give me advice as to what to practice to alleviate the problem. I've searched the net but I can't find anyone who deals with this sort of thing.
    It's beginning to impinge on my confidence and performance, and I don't want to admit defeat just yet.

    Someone please help!!!! :(
  2. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    I too have this same problem! For me though, I think it is nerves, my heart starts to beat faster and I can't regulate my breathing properly! Hence, the noise that comes out in quiet passages, is sometimes not very musical. :eek:

    if anyone does have a 'cure', I too will be pleased to learn it!
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - not quite a 'cure', but this method of deep muscle relaxation is useful on a number of fronts ...

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2006
  4. Sparky

    Sparky Member

  5. persins

    persins Member

    With nerves I tend to just concentrate on relaxed, deep breaths.
    It sounds strange but just being aware of having to concentrate on relaxing seems to work for me!!
    I also got told by a mate from Bournemouth Concert Brass that it's really useful to make sure that you fully exhale before inhaling as it is normally the body trying to get rid of the carbon dioxide rather than getting more oxygen that causes you to run out of breath! It worked on Journey to the Centre of the Earth last week.

    Unfortunately, being a web forum, we are never going to be able to categorically say its because of x or y but hopefully, you'll get some hints and tricks from this or someone to contact locally at least.

    Good luck!

  6. Mrs Fruity

    Mrs Fruity Member

    Thank you for your suggestions so far. I've ordered the book thanks, John, and will read the article fully, and try the breathing out thing- although it's too late to help me with Journey! Might help with Paganini though. Thanks again
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2006
  7. Emb_Enh

    Emb_Enh Member

    Hiya mrs fruity ! ..I would suggest you have a too open lip aperture start position...

    here are some common problems..

    Here are some of the symptoms of an inefficient aperture [too open, or too closed]....

    TOO open/spread problems:
    • Air in tone
    • no pp-ppp control
    • excessive mpc pressure
    • no lip or mpc buzz
    • brick wall range
    • plays flat with slides in a long way
    • blatty sound
    • inaccurate pitching
    • Inability to switch registers quickly / find's it hard to play long phrases without running out of air / lack of cresc + dim.

    Try this ....play a 2 octave scale starting on G on top of the stave slurring all the way down and back up again in quavers/eighth notes at mezzoforte. This is difficult to do without breaks in the sound/tonal quality if your too open or spread. Now do it on Ab / A / Bb / B / C. [It is not a range test]


    TOO closed problems:
    • choked off sound in all registers
    • thin weedy tone
    • high register "whistley" sounding
    • no power
    • poor attacks
    • plays high on pitch mostly and has to extend the tuning slides out quite a bit.

    The Aperture, and what it is ! .....

    Once playing a note and you have a sound on the instrument, I believe that although using visualisers and other observations it may appear to be a hole in the centre, in actuality it's the lips opening AND closing at HIGH speed and is an optical illusion.

    There is no constant hole or aperture while playing.
    The lips make 440 apertures per second when sounding an A 440.
    This is not a hole!

    The hole, or aperture, observed in the lips is the amplitude of the vibration that is being sustained by the air being blown through the lips. If there is no amplitude, there is no vibration and there is no sound. So instead of calling it "an open and closing hole" or calling it "the amplitude of vibration," we call it an aperture. The tissue inside the aperture is what vibrates. The aperture is NOT just "up and down lip to lip compression" which opens and closes the aperture, it is also lengthwise a range control mechanism, and from front to back which allows the production of the dynamic/volume control.

    It is possible to create an aperture with the lips, with or without an air stream. By just pursing the lips [like whistling ]. This type of hole is clearly defined and it can be correctly called an aperture. If you observe lips buzzing compared to lips that are either just blowing or in a silent whistle position there is an obvious difference.
    We call them both an aperture, but they're not the same thing. They are two different kinds of openings in the lips that should not be thought of in the same manner.


    I am talking about the latter...the vibration / buzz ...whatever you want to call it!

    How big an aperture is TOO big? ....no one knows for you personally!
    How small an aperture is TOO small?...no one knows for you personally!

    Let your sound/timbral quality ON the horn be your guide. Every note should be resonant at all registers! Although utopian, this is what you should aim for with ease of operation. Find the ability to ride the airstream - what I call ......

    ......"THE BLOW!"

    Let the SOUND/TIMBRAL QUALITY ON THE HORN be your guide! - REALLY!!!

    On a "too" open aperture set up, the aperture has to be filled up one way or another or the tone suffers. If you don't, you may find that SO LARGE an amount of air is required to keep this workable that it becomes unviable for you to continue in this way. IN this situation ALL the air on planet earth can't help you! Some people use the tongue to help to close the aperture a little, taking up the slack and makes this set up a viable / playable one. Here the tongue also helps to keep a steady pitch. Some people try and gain extra wind power with varying degrees of success. If you've tried all these, then another course of action available to you is to start with a more closed set up than you've been previously using thereby cuttting down on the amount of wind power necessary to make YOUR set up work.



    The easiest way to close up a too open aperture start point is to load your practice with LONG TONES ---or--- LONG PHRASES
    [CORNERS by alan colin --available here--- Ian.J.Steele@btopenworld.com ]

    However....LONG TONES ---or--- LONG PHRASES are not suitable for a player whose aperture is too closed as a starting point.

    I hope some of this helps you....

    RODDY o-iii<O

    "E M B O U C H U R E ____E N H A N C E M E N T"
    [Self Analysis / Diagnostic Methods for Trumpet Advancement]

    BOOK 1 (200 Pages of text)
    BOOK 2 (Tests notated + play-along CD)
    BOOK 3 (Low register analysis)


  8. dixie

    dixie New Member


    I got rid of this problem and know how frustrating it can be when you blow and nothing comes out! The advice given directly above is very valid and detailed, but I would try and keep solutions simple.

    The two symptoms you describe (Shudder....that sounds like 'clinician' speak. Why has that awful description crept into brass circles? Have you ever heard of a violin 'clinician'?) are connected. To help solve your faulty and unreliable production I recommend to practise producing notes without the tongue. (Using seconds as your 'beat', play a long tone on any note between G and C(for 4 seconds) without using your tongue. Think: 1, 2, 3, breathe, play.). Don't worry about loud or quiet, just play a comfortable 'mf', concentrate on being relaxed, breathing fully and blowing. Results may vary! Nothing may come out or a beautiful full sound may appear but whatever happens, keep doing and stay relaxed. It's always good to keep in mind that to learn a new playing skill there has to be a period of sounding 'bad' before improvements are made. Imagine learning a new swimming stroke or golf swing, sinking or slicing will happen!

    Practising these long tones eventually gives you confidence in knowing that something will come out of the end of the instrument ( at your "comfortable" dynamic) when you want it to. When you have worked at and improved the 'comfortable' dynamic, you can move on. Go through the same process as before but this time but quieter. Remember that sinking or slicing may happen! I cannot stress more how essential it is to keep that comfortable, releaxed, easy, confident feeling you've acheived with your previous work. Have patience, stay relaxed and keep your breathing the same as before.

    An old but trusty pattern for this playing C B C Bb C A C Ab C G for four to six seconds on each note. Be sure to prepare and breathe using the '1, 2, 3, breathe, play' pattern you've been working on. Then lower: G F# G F G E G Eb G D G Db G C. Bring some variation into it by starting each note at 'f' then 'dim' to 'pp', holding the 'pp' for as long as you can.

    This isn't by any means a complete solution and it's but a simple method to start and help build your confidence in facing this common problem. I always try to keep things simple in my own playing and teaching and have found over the years that no matter how much 'technical' information I've taken on board, I always come back to the basics of 'Breathe, Play' to help with confident production. Good and cheap books to look at for help with breathing and production are the 'Good Brass Guides' for trombone (Peter Gane) or trumpet (John Millar). They are standard Guildhall/Trinity Board method books for Grade examinations and my seem a little young, but they are full of simple instructions and for working on the 'basics'.

    Hope this helps