Practice Valves

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Queeg2000, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    If you've read my other thread today you will see I have brought a part to work to study.

    Whilst waggling my fingers in mid air, it struck me that I have never seen any kind of dummy valves for practicing.

    It then occurred to me that such a gadget could encompass switches and be used to compare the valve operations to a pre-programmed sequence to give an assessment.

    If every operation were compared by a microprocessor to the music preloaded, any bad fingers could put a red light on so the user could see they made a mistake.

    Does such a thing exist? If it does or did, would it be used?
  2. GER

    GER Member

    Can't see it being commercially viable, would need to encompass all the parts in a piece and even then would only help with the fingers, not the pitch
  3. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Aside from anything else... it's pointless.

    The important thing isn't just that the valves move in the right place - the articulation needs to move in time, etc.

    At the end of the day, practicing without playing along would essentially be practicing less than half of what you could be practicing if you just picked the instrument up - so why would you?

    If you want to see if you're making mistakes, record yourself (a phone mic is plenty good enough for this) and listen back - it'll become perfectly clear where wrong valves are going down.
  4. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    I was think of something that could be used anywhere. I'm sure if you got an instrument out on a train you would get some very odd reactions, but you could use this anywhere.
  5. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Maybe, but I think for most of us it'd get very little use - sounds rather gimmicky (then again, there's plenty of brass related gimmicks that sell just fine, so I guess you never know).

    I'd find listening intently (and I don't mean purely listening for enjoyment) to great players and/or bands more valuable in that situation , personally.. it's something I think bandsmen don't stress enough (both from an inspirational and instructive point of view).
  6. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Sell the idea to Microsoft. I can imagine it in the shops - "Xbox - Trumpet Hero" :)
  7. Slider1

    Slider1 Active Member

    If you just want to exercise your fingers (Like a dummy Keyboard) get an old cornet and chop out the valve set and away you go. Its probably very good for muscle memory too.
  8. IoiBP

    IoiBP New Member

    I don't know, but possibly Arturo Sandoval's 'Sandovalves' would be of help to you.
  9. Hsop

    Hsop Member

    How about a 'pocket cornet' ? :)
  10. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    My first thought was along those lines, but the thinking is that it wouldn't play, it would be solely for muscle memory. Obviously a pocket cornet would cost more than three plastic pistons and springs.

    I then thought that developing muscle memory of the wrong notes would not be a good thing, so thought putting switches into the valves to flag up wrong notes would be a good improvement on the idea.

    It seems like a straightforward thing to produce, which made me suspect such a gadget had probably already been developed.

    Time to get some plastic rods and tubes ready for the next series of Dragon's Den. :p

    Just priced up the components, think I have included everything to build it at just under £30 (Though there will be a few bits over). Seems a bit over the top for what is probably going to be more of a gimmick than a serious practice aid, but it is just a prototype, if it went into mass production, and with further development, I would be confident in getting them produced a lot cheaper than that.

    I do like the idea, even though I suspect it was tongue in cheek, of a Trumpet Star type of console game. In theory if the software were to control the players pitch and assume that they had it correct, wrong fingering could be taken into account. For example if the game required a B natural and the first valve were pressed, it could play a Bb rather than an F or a D and deduct points accordingly. Unfortunately I wouldn't know where to start with writing such a game but if anyone here does and fancies a collaboration, let me know.

    My PC programming skills would enable me to write the software to upload the practice piece into the valve unit, though I'm not sure of the best way yet to do this, whether that would be to enter the fingering, the notes as letters, or maybe import from Musescore (I chose Musescore because it's free and I could legitimately provide a download link with the device)

    Opening a PDF and converting is always going to be hit and miss for accuracy, even if I worked out a way to do it, and I am not sure how the mscz files from Musescore would lend themselves to being opened, but being opensource, I am sure it could be done. For simplicity, at development stage, I would be inclined to test it by simply entering a string of letters. Where different fingerings are used depending on the pitch, (eg D 1+3 at the bottom or D 1st on top) it could be distinguished by an upper or lower case. Sharps and flats could easily be denoted with a preceding or succeeding character. Could even keep a report of all errors made for uploading to the PC later and a record of improvements etc.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  11. julian

    julian Active Member

    Sorry to burst you bubble, but they're already available commercially for £12.pp inc postage - some places even less! They're called Pro Hands Via hand exerciser and you can get them on ebay from Village music in East Kilbride. They have 4 buttons (valves) just in case you play a 4 in line and they have adjustable tension springs. O.K. they're not metal, but they're not £30 and build it yourself. And as a bonus all the time spent mucking about with bits of pipe and springs, you could actully be practicing!! - Just saying.....
    Slider1 likes this.
  12. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    Just ordered one. Of course there's no electronics in that to tell if you have pressed the right valves which would account for a large portion of the £30 I was looking at, but for £8 on ebay, I'll give it a go. If I could put switches on it and develop it further then better still.
  13. julian

    julian Active Member

    Spend the time practicing, my friend. Spend the time practicing!!
  14. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    I've spent half the day practicing on "air cornet" I think it would be good if something like this could tell you if you were repeatedly practicing the wrong notes though. Does seem to have paid off with "air cornet" I got in and picked up the real cornet and played the part straight off.
  15. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    There's also Arturo Sandovals's Sandovalves - I have the plastic version but he also has a metal one now:

  16. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    Or you can do this if you have an old trumpet knocking around the place!

  17. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    I love that idea... with a play off at the end of the level against a big boss..... Can you out play Phil McCann on a slow melody or David Childs on an aire varie....
    Euphonium Lite and 4th Cornet like this.
  18. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    Just be mindful using these as they come in various strengths...I recommend the lightest possible.

    I was using a stronger set in the car and they have hurt my hand (not kidding)
  19. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I've not really thought about it before, but the usual way of making sure to build muscle memory on correct notes is to rehearse slowly enough to allow for mental checks for correctness. E.g. checking against the key signature.
    I'd have thought that wanting to rely on a machine to effectively do these mental checks for you will slow development down in the long run. From my experience, relating the note on the page to which fingers to use is something that develops very quickly anyway; particularly if proper rudimentary scales and arpeggio practice is part of your routine.
    In short, I think you're looking for a solution to a problem that doesn't universally exist. That's just my view of course :)
    Jack E likes this.
  20. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    I understand Queeg2000's point although I wouldn't go as far as to automate anything.... air valves are perfectly acceptable.

    I will quite often sit with a difficult part (maybe at work or maybe when the kids are in bed) and practice with "air valves". It can also be incredibly useful to practice your airflow (always relaxed) with vowel sounds too.

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