Pyschological block!!!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Seedhouse, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Seedhouse

    Seedhouse Active Member

    Hi guys,
    For a while i've had a "psychological block" when going for Upper Register notes (namely C and up!), and with all other facets of my playing being absolutely fan-diddly-tastic it is clear that this is the big factor letting me down! I can get up there, so it's not a playing problem, just psychological/ mental!!!
    I've tried everything- blasting up there, concentrating on using a faster airstream up there, vowel sounds, everthing I can think of!!!
    Is there anyone who could provide any advice in overcoming this "block" I seem to have!? :(
  2. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Paralysis through over-analysis

    Don't think so hard. Just go for it.

    There are no "high" notes - there are higher notes, certainly, but no note is high (just think, there will usually be players who can play it an octave higher than you can - if it was impossible, they wouldn't be able to)

    Daft question - do have a teacher/have you been for lessons?
  3. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    His teacher's Steven Mead.
  4. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    In which case, have you talked to him about it?

    Any advice you might receive online can only really be guesswork. Ask the guys who can hear you play. My thought is that you can actually play these notes and you are stopping yourself.

    Most of the more advanced students I have taken over from other teachers can usually play higher than they think - they just don't practise in that register, meaning that they won't be able to play in that register.

    A fantastic exercise I use with many of my students is to take a hymn tune - play it a semitone higher each day. The fact that you are starting in a range that is easy for you maens that you probably won't even notice it getting into your upper register. This also gives you the chance to brush up on your transposition - probably more useful for trumpeters than euph players, but it is a great skill to acquire, for everyone.
    Scales and arpeggios are also very helpful for extending usable range (scales are NOT just for exams).
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  6. Seedhouse

    Seedhouse Active Member

    Yep, Steve is the most fantastic teacher i've ever encountered, and he can't see anything hindering my upper register playing, and we're both positive that it is a psychological thing preventing me, and its therefore just a case of mind over matter!

    I did go through a patch where I was playing exercises in the high register chromatically, (C, C#, D) then the next exercise would be a step up (C#, D, D# etc) and this did help, but it's gaining the consistency that i'm finding hard to achieve. Some days I can play up there beautifully, some days it sounds as rough and squeezy as anything!!!

    I do scales and arpeggios everyday, both major and minor (at least half of them each day- alternating), and this is helping to strengthen my embouchure but not helping with consistency!
    It always feels like I hit a brick wall as soon as any progress is made! :(
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I take it then that both of you have explored and talked in depth about how you produce notes, especially those in the upper register. What conclusions did you arrive at concerning the structural aspects of your playing?
  8. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Sounds like most people when they start out - it takes a while for an level of consistency when trying something new - the trick is to keep working at it until your bad days become better than everyone else's good days.
    Consistency comes through regular, sensible practising.

    Do you have a daily routine?
    I found that the establishment of a daily workout has been something very beneficial and helped me a great deal towards the level of consistency I require of myself.

    Go back a year - how has your playing changed over that time period?
    Knowing how it is with many students, they want immediate results. This is not something that is easy to achieve on brass instruments (there honestly isn't a magic button that we only show you after Grade 8 that makes everything easier). Take a look at how you play now and compare it to how you did a year ago - do you see an improvement? Are you achieving better consistency? If so, maybe you are getting batter, but just not noticing it as much as you imagine you should?
  9. Steve

    Steve Active Member


    I do stupid things like making sure I finish reheasals (I wish I could say home practive but I cant :S) by playing either a bit I cant play or a stupid note really well (top Eb's, pedal G's etc. It does no real good but It means next time I pick an instrument up I know my last note was a cracker.

    Randomly pick your instrument out its case and smack out 10 top C's occasionally, forget all the technique and just blast them. I have zero stamina any more so in theory if I can blast out top notes when Im knackered I can do it when im in practice.

    Every year I make sure the last note I played was good (I used to do it every day) so that next time I play I know I put the instrument away happy and have something to work from next time.

    Fortunately I dont have mental issues with my instrument anymore, I know it hates me, but I am sure something in this post will be of some use mate.

    Seriously though, forget technique and get used to playing the note. The put the technique back into the equation once you are over the mental hurdle.

    You still dont sound too bad mate ;)
  10. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Smile and Press

  11. Seedhouse

    Seedhouse Active Member

    It has been discussed in depth, and as I said it seems to be psychological- evidence of this is the fact that I can play "up there," but for unknown reasons there are times when I can't! I just seem to freeze up/ tense up before they come up, and then miss it! Therefore proving to myself that I can't play them- vicious circle!!! If it was a structural aspect of my playing then surely it would be something that just didn't happen!

    Yep, I have a daily routine consisting of everything you would expect it to contain- although I don't really practice double/ triple tonguing that much (but doesn't really relate to the problem obviously!). This has aided me a lot with consistency, and my overall playing is much better.

    My playing has changed a lot, my sound is now much bolder (is that the right word!?), I have more control over the instrument, finger technique is better, everything apart from my upper register- therefore I suppose pyschologically in my mind I always think of it as my "big problem area!" Therefore I am progressing, but obviously feel I need more control over the upper register.

    Wish it was that simple Steve! :p ;)

    I do this occasionally and my stamina goes straight out the window- will give it a go though!

    Cheers! :p ;)

    Thanks for discussing this problem with me guys, I'm grateful- it's good to have a fantastic source such as tMP to hear peoples opinions on things- thanks! :)
  12. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    Have you tried using the Carmine Caruso book "Musical Calisthenics for Brass"? Using the exercises in this book might help you get your confidence back and get over your mental block! Good Luck

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