Physiology and bandology

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by starperformer, Jun 27, 2006.

  1. starperformer

    starperformer Member

    I have been told many times (by reputable teachers) "the chops are like any other muscle - exercise every day and they will become stronger" and yet this appears to be a complete fallacy. For a start, the chops are not like any other muscle. More importantly, every athlete can tell you that in fact if you want to build up a muscle for either endurance or strength, recovery is just as important as exercise. Any sports training programme that only includes hard effort every day without adequate rest periods will only result in overtraining and underperformance. Is this method based on the assumption that no-one is diligent enough to actually practice hard every day?

    Further to this, in most physical performance disciplines it is usually accepted that preparation must involve working towards defined peaks or goals within a 'season', building up through phases of overloading and then tapering off to freshen up and fine-tune for the event. Most brass bands that I know of simply prepare more and more feverishly leading up to an event, finishing off with a third accepted no-no...

    Preparing for a contest by practicing once per day, in the evening, and then throwing that out on contest day by playing twice, in the morning and afternoon (or whatever).

    All method books I have read or heard about seem to ignore at least some obvious scientific fact in order to strongly push one particular philosophy - always based on small refinements to some accepted wisdom or other, and usually endorsed by people whose (undoubted) talent appears to be largely natural rather than based on rigid adherence to the method in question.
  2. I think the difference is that with the lips you need a combination of fine tuning, suppleness and moderate endurance.

    Truly "Strong" lip (or for most purposes cheek) muscles are only needed for high notes, and that is something that comes with occasional hard practise sessions, as you suggest, rather than every day playing.

    As for general 'endurance' - I disagree with you regarding what most athletes would do. In endurance sports - fell running, triathlons, (& racehorses) etc - most athletes DO train every day, but train for shorter / more focussed sessions than would be needed during a competition - not so different from what we do.
  3. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    New Southgate, London
    I'm not sure that it is right to isolate "chops" in this sense. In order to become "stronger", it involves the coordinating of many aspects of playing such as finger coordingation & speed, breathing, chops and articlation control.
    Practicing every day (or 6 days in 7 or whatever) should focus on the coordination of these in order to improve your playing skills.
    Focusing on one area, e.g. upper register in isolation will result degradation of other areas. A practice routine (of say, 30 mins) should aim to cover as much of these aspects of playing as possible. Practice should ideally be several 20 min / 30 min sessions rather than one long session. Rest as much as you play!!
    Howard Snell's book The Trumpet discusses this in some detail, it's worth studying.
  4. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Washington, DC, USA
    There's also the mental aspect of playing. Some players, regardless of their phsyical abilities, require a strict practice regimen to maintain their confidence.
  5. starperformer

    starperformer Member

    for some of us, band playing = high notes! this touches on an important point - the answers will be totally different for Bb bass vs. soprano

    in my experience of endurance sports, noone trains every day. the top elite athletes may do "active recovery" which involves light jogging/whatever one or two days per week instead of rest days, but this only applies if you are so fit that this is still really a rest. they also typically do less than 10% of their training at performance intensity.
    at the opposite end of the scale, in power/strength based sports (such as weightlifting) noone would consider training the same muscle group even as often as two days in a row.

    maybe so, but the same arguments apply to each, surely?

    interesting, thanks - i'll have a read.
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