Playing advice/help

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Corneto, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. Corneto

    Corneto New Member

    Sorry if this is in the wrong forum or not the appropiate place to put it first off:$

    Hey people,

    Really in need of some help/advice at the moment playing wise. Ive been playing cornet now for around 8 years and started when I was 10. I was made principal cornet of my band when I was 13 (probably not the best move) and since that time have had some 'ups and downs' in form if you like.

    Within the last 2 weeks ive completely 'lost my lip', so to speak. Im struggling to play things I could easily manage 4-5 years ago and am now having trouble even getting above the stave, never mind sustaining notes. It just feels like im having to learn to play again.
    Things ive been told is that..
    - Im still growing so my embouchure is constantly changing
    - My tounge is positioned wrongly therefore blocking the air
    - Not breathing correctly
    - Not warming up/warming down correctly

    It is more than likely one of the above reasons, but I dont understand how I can hit Top C's wih ease one week, then a week later (or even days) I struggle to get above the stave. I currently use a DW size 4 mouthpiece.
    On top of three 2 hour band rehearsals a week, I practice daily, but have recently began practicing 15 minutes 3 times a day due to my current playing situation and contests approaching (Im a student, have a lot of time on my hands :p) so I dont think its due to a lack of practice.

    I feel it would be an injustice to my band to continue playing in this way, especially with a lot of contests coming up. Therefore Im afraid to say im on the verge of giving up the instrument and Brass banding completely.

    Sorry for the essay :p
    Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance :)))))
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  2. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Best thing to do is find a teacher and have a lesson. They will be able to diagnose your problem and make suggestions.
    Tips / advice can be offered here but they are almost always useless as they are offered blind...

    Good Luck.
  3. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Welcome, and sorry to hear you're having trouble. You will get lots of well intentioned advice from forum members like me, I'm sure, but the only way to really know if you're doing something wrong is for an experienced teacher to watch you playing.

    The best thing you could do is get a private lesson with an experienced teacher. It needn't cost a lot and it might only take one or two sessions. If you post where you are in the country I'm sure there will be plenty of recommendations but if you're in the North West you could do worse than contact Mark Wilkinson (PC of Fodens) who I believe gives private tuition. Roger Webster is also excellent at diagnosing and sorting out problems with playing technique (I think he did his PHD on that sort of thing?), and there are lots of others.

    Davequinlan^ is spot on, in reality:

    That said, I'll make a couple of opinionated suggestions with the proviso that I don't teach and am most certainly NOT an expert player, you should therefore take these with as big a pinch of salt as you see fit!

    Dodgy opinion no.1: The embouchure contains muscles and like any other muscles they will perform better when properly warmed up and down. If you're blowing as much as you say but not warming up or down "properly" it's a bit like going straight into a 10,000m race or a football match without doing any stretching or warming up. Again a good teacher would be able to set you up with a decent warm up/down routine, beware of trying to work it out for yourself, what works for other players in your band might not work for you. For information purposes only, it takes me 15 minutes to be properly warmed up (but that might be because I'm rubbish) for a 2 hour rehearsal.

    Dodgy opinion no.2: Have you considered that you may just be knackered? You're clearly blowing a lot, but if this has increased a lot recently (or you had a lay-off over Christmas) your lip might simply need some time off - again, it's like any other muscle, time to recover and repair is as important as the time spent exercising. Compare it to using a gym - you wouldn't switch from going once a week to going 6 times a week (unless you're mad), you would build up to it gradually. This is something you could test without a teacher simply by having a couple of days off - if that's not the problem then 48 hours without practice won't do you any actual harm, unless you're on the Black Dyke front row ;)

    But by far the best advice is to get a few lessons and seek an expert opinion from someone who has watched you play. Good luck, would be interesting to read how you get on....
  4. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Dodgy opinion no. 3: Don't press so hard.

    OK, so I have no idea whether you are or not, but it's often a safe bet ...

    Seriously, like the other posters said, find yourself a good teacher.
  5. yoda

    yoda Member

    to add to the other opinions....................

    Get someone to look at you (an good teacher) they can see the mechanics going on and can provide sound advice and practical solutions.

    my 10c worth:

    Give yourself a break (not a rest from playing but be nicer to yourself) You clearly can do this as you have done it, so i would suggest that you relax, take the pressure off yourself and start to enjoy.

    Easy said, but not easy done.

    much of what you describe could be attributed to pressure and expectations of yourself.

    Magic remedy....... Take 2 days off playing. dont touch it, dont think about it. Do something you enjoy doing and smile while doing it. then on the 3rd day, just pick up your cornet and play for the love of it. Doesn't matter what comes out the other end. then put it away. next day do the same. if this doesn't work, no matter as you have lost nothing and smiled a little in the process

    Good luck with this, and JUST BE HAPPY in your playing.
  6. Mercedes

    Mercedes Member



    As has already been said you will receive a lot of well intentioned replies to your chops prob, mainly because so many of us have been there.

    After long searches and reading page after page on the www I came across

    Take your time reading his web site - his understanding of chops is IMO the best out there and his books are a must to sort yourself out, written in an amusing but very down to earth informative manner i.e no bull****.

    Buy Emboucher Enhancement Book 1 - you won't be sorry - guarantee you will be on to thank me if you do!
  7. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    I also agree with all that have said to go to a private teacher. Any of the posters abover may be right, and experimentation is the onlway to discover your particular problem. I would start with yoda's advice about resting your lip. It is not necessary to stop playing, or to drop the brass band.
  8. cornyandy

    cornyandy Member

    This is in many ways bad advice but it work for me.

    I'm coming back to playing and my endurance is still a bit frustratiing. Some times and I mean sometimes I over do it a bt trying to play like I used to (it is coming back quite quickly) If I feel at a real impass I have a break a cuppa etc for about half an hour then go and play one of my other horns for about ten mins maybe quarter of an hour (I'm lucky I have a trumpet two cornets and a five pound Besson Brevette Flugel to play with) only on relaxed stuff. Then the following day I feel back to normal. I wouldn't advocate lots of swapping with the instrument or mouthpiece but it works for me. I suppose its a glorified warm down

    If you are growing it might, might, but only just possibly be worth checking that your mouthpiece is still right for you but to echo the above only with a teachers advice

    Hope you get it sorted out soon

  9. towse1972

    towse1972 Active Member

    None of these people are qualified to give you blind advice. SEE A CLINICIAN!!!!! It could be serious. You could cause irrepairable damage.
  10. sale

    sale Member

    "The best thing you could do is get a private lesson with an experienced teacher. It needn't cost a lot and it might only take one or two sessions. If you post where you are in the country I'm sure there will be plenty of recommendations but if you're in the North West you could do worse than contact Mark Wilkinson (PC of Fodens) who I believe gives private tuition. "

    i would definately do this, if you are in the north west id advise go and see wilky! he should be able to find the problem easy!
  11. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    There's too much information out there for you to do this on your own - you'll tie yourself in knots. Get help!
  12. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Find a Teacher.....and take a break from playing for a few days!
  13. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    Does that mean I'm qualified? Seeing as I'm a registered clinical specialist! As far as I'm aware nobody has died from a bit of lip exhaustion......... :roll: Advice is offered and the general concensus has been get a good teacher. Hardly rocket science and it's ridiculously patronising to suggest that people can't offer advice unless you deem them qualified!
  14. towse1972

    towse1972 Active Member

    I was talking about the people who had already replied. And it is serious. He could cause irrepairable damage to his embrouchure if he picks the wrong set of advice.
    I dont know what your beef is dear. I told him to see a clinician. I mean a qualified expert that can help him with his lip issues. Not a dental nurse! Now get off your box!
  15. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    Take no notice - some people just like to stir.
    Can't understand the mindset myself....:)
  16. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    Everone has given the same advice. See a qualified teacher.
  17. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Can I add one wee item? Please make sure that this clinician/teacher you book has experience/training of remedial practice. Can anyone confirm that this is now part of higher music education or teacher training? If not, it should be!
  18. JesTperfect!

    JesTperfect! Member

    I agree with almost all of the above.


    I have the same problem, and it's horrible. Really, really horrible. I have every sympathy. I too was on the verge of giving up the ghost and accepting that I could only play to a certain level and I'd have to be happy with that.

    Then I realised that I want to be good. And, like you, a couple of years ago, I was better than I am now. Which shows - I'm perfectly capable, I've just gone a bit off track somewhere along the line. If I could, I reckon I can again. And with the right teacher, I can only get better again.

    I spent a while ignoring it, then trying various things. Just last week I realised that I don't know how to sort it, and I need to spend some time with someone who will.


    Lesson booked. Feeling slightly better about it already, even though I've not had the lesson yet. I trust that the teacher will help me, and most importantly have reminded myself that if I've done it before, I CAN do it again.

    I promise you, just sorting out a lesson will make you feel a bit better about it.

    Don't give up without trying as hard as you possibly can to sort it. It means asking for help (something that I'm not good at), but I've realised losing a bit of face is better than losing banding altogether.

    BOOK a lesson. And let us know how it goes : )
  19. Corneto

    Corneto New Member

    Thanks for all the replies guys.

    Seems like the best thing to do is see a good teacher. My last teachers advice before he retired was that it was "all in my head", but my lip seemed to disagree. Il have a look a round within the coming weeks and book one.

    Unfortunately I cant risk having a rest for a few days because of a certain contest in 4 days :$ But il try giving that a go aswell next weeek to see if it helps.
    Thanks again.
  20. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

    Yup. It's as simple and complicated as that...
    Good Luck. ;)

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