Sop player with imploding head - any advice?!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by lucretia, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. lucretia

    lucretia Member

    As a sop player, I'm used to the odd occasion where a long high note results in little head rush. (I'm assuming I'm not the only one it happens to....)

    However, certain passages of Blitz are leaving me with a thumper of a headache - it starts about 1-2 seconds after I finish a high/loud phrase and takes 5-6 seconds to die away each time, building up over the evening's rehearsal. I still had the remnants of last night's rehearsal headache when I woke up this morning!

    Has anyone got any advice, other than take paracetemol before I play (which doesn't seem a great long-term solution)?
  2. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    Be very careful, and see a doctor. A number of Sop players in bands have recently developed quite serious conditions that seem to be connected with, or excaserbated by, Soprano playing! I know of 4, including our own band's player, Phil Symonds, who had to stop playing for a while.

    See someone soon to prevent further problems!
  3. Griffin

    Griffin Active Member

    Bigger breath?

    I guess the lack of oxygen to the brain gives ya a headache...

    I get head rushes all the time! i love em! haha
  4. chizzum

    chizzum Member

    Yup, Its lack of breath, take a bigger breath or change instruments as it could seriously be dangerous.
  5. lucretia

    lucretia Member

    I usually take a huge lungful of air and do the whole phrase in one. So maybe it's actually too big a breath?
  6. JayneSop

    JayneSop Member

    Head rush thing

    Yeah, I get it quite a lot and its all to do with breathing. With me it happens during first breath after stopping playing. My problem is, whilst playing, I take too much air in and my phrases are too long. So I try to breathe more often on long loud passages. (and on very quiet passages too!) Makes quite a differnce to mark your part with phrase marks, so you then concentrate on breathing. Also try to reduce the effort whilst playing too, relax a bit... that makes a big difference to me. Also do you really have to play as loud as possible? Sometimes you can get away with reducing volume by 5%, makes things much more comfortable for you and doesn't impact that much on band sound.

    Good luck on Blitz, great sop part. Goood Fun


  7. Jacob Larsen

    Jacob Larsen Member

    When I started playing the sop. in 1998 I got a mean headache everytime I played ff ro fff... But after 2-3 months on sop. it stopped... I thing your body has to find a way to cope with the instrument.. I had a student who had the same problem with the sop. and it also stopped after some time..

    So wait and see..
  8. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    No... don't wait and see... go and get professional medical advice and then if your Dr suggests you 'wait and see'... then you wait and see.!!!

    The sooner you see your Doctor, the better. They are the profesisonals.

    Sorry Jacob...;)
  9. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I very much doubt the problem is medical. It will be more to do with how you play, more specifically, how you breathe. Playing Sop requires more air "pressure" rather than more air, so I would rethink how you aproach your phrasing and breathing. The problem you are encountering is that you take huge lungfulls of air and don't get to use it all, therefore it goes stale, or you take a big breath, use some air up, but keep topping your supply up with smaller breaths. It's blackout is a similar experience to inhaling and holding your breath for a long time!
    There are some useful exercises that you could try to do to train yourself not to do this. e.g. when practicing long note exercies, take two bars to breath before you play, i.e Exhale for 4 beats, then Inhale for 4 beats, then play long note. Repeat this breathing pattern between long tones. You need to try and find places in the repertoire you have to play to put this in practice.
  10. sooooper sop

    sooooper sop Member

    I have had the 'head rush' before quite a few years ago, they stopped when I developed a better breathing technique, I take smaller breaths more often (there's only so much air you can force down a sop!). I've only had a headache a couple of time, mostly due to a few beers the night before.
    If I were you I'd see my doctor asap, best to rest for awhile than not be able to play again.
  11. Adrian Horn

    Adrian Horn Member

    As Dave Quinlan says, you need to back off a bit. You don't need to put as much air through a smaller instrument, and as the sop has a greater resistance than the Bb if you keep pushing air through you end up straining your body, holding too much air in your lungs, topping up already stale air etc.

    On the higher cornets/trumpets (Eb and piccolos) you need to rethink the way you send air through the instrument. Pressure is a bad thing, you need to use less air overall but really support it ith your diaphragm so that you aren't trying to squeeze it through the instrument. Think about trying to aim the air through a smaller hole rather than trying to open up and push as much out as possible. By doing this, you will concentrate the airstream so that you are pushing less air out, but at a higher velocity, helping your playing on the smaller instruments.

    I would, however, still get yourself checked out by the doctor and make sure you haven't done yourself any damage and make sure he thinks its OK to carry on.
  12. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Spot on.
  13. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    Sounds familliar to something I've had before. Of course I've felt light headed (and even momentarily blacked out once :eek: at a contest)

    A couple of years ago I got shooting pains in the back of my head after playing particularly hard, high and loud in a 10 piece gig (I was playing a picc part on a normal Bb at the time, Mr Jums I seem to remember :confused: ) I told some friends and they persuaded me to go to the doctor, but by the time I got an appointment the pain had gone, so I cancelled.

    The same thing happened earlier this year and I just ignored it (stupid I know) I just put it down to being completely stressed and nackered, it was at my 4th gig in 48 hours (3 on Sop) and had hardly slept. I took it easy for a few days and I was fine.

    I would suggest that you don't be an idiot like me and get medical advice, if/when I get this again, I will do, there's obviously something not right!
  14. JohnnyEuph

    JohnnyEuph Member

    ...Become a conductor!
  15. lucretia

    lucretia Member

    Oooh, no. That sounds like a much worse headache.
  16. lucretia

    lucretia Member

    Thanks for all the advice guys. It's at least reassuring that other players have experienced this!

    I'm not really able to take a break at the moment with Pontins at the weekend and three reheasals plus a gig next week, but I will make a conscious effort to follow the breathing advice.
  17. madsaz

    madsaz Member

    The breathing advice sounds good - you are describing what is most likely a physiological phenomenon which should settle if you breathe more "sensibly".

    When you breathe in you help the return of venous blood to the heart, when you breathe out this becomes harder. So, if you blow out, hard, for long periods, the return of blood to your heart is seriously restricted. You can see this in action - when people yell, or blow hard their face becomes red & their neck veins stand out (unless they are really, really fat!). It probably has something to do with some of the so called "breath holding" attacks toddlers have during a paddy, where they black out.

    In extremely simple terms, when you push yourself too hard on a long, loud phrase, you are impeding venous return to the heart - it ain't got enough blood in. You can't keep that up - you'd have to stop & take a breath. Some people get lightheaded symptoms when they are blowing. Others feel awful when they stop - and the blood rushes away from their heads to fill up the heart again. It is perfectly possible to black out by pushing yourself too hard - as some on here have experienced.

    Headache is something that can happen when the blood pressure in the brain is variable - I have patients who swear they can tell their BP is up when they have headache (though they may have tension headaches & high BP from their stresses - another chicken and egg debate!!). Some migraine variants are definately related to spasm of vessels and alterations in brain blood supply. If you are pushing yourself to the limit of your breathing I am not surprised you get headaches.

    It may be too late to alter your breathing in time for Pontins - see how you get on. If it happened regularly & didn't improve with changing your breathing you should certainly get medical advice. It is probably worth getting your blood pressure checked & a once over anyway - I can theorise and twitter on with explanations but I haven't clapped eyes on you, and could be hopelessly wrong. However, I think this is explainable and remediable. Good luck.
  18. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I'm with John and Keith here. I always enjoy and respect the opinions of posters on tMP, and I've learned a lot from the members of this forum...


    as far as I know only madsaz is professionally involved in medicine (apologies if I've maligned any closet consultants) - and she says see your own doctor. You will pick up many helpful tips to improve your playing technique here, but medical advice is something you should get from your doctor, NOT an internet forum. Even one as (occasionally!) erudite as this one.

    You only get one brain, if it hurts when you play get it looked at. End of. If the doc says you're OK then your best next step would be a couple of sessions (maybe even just an hour) with someone like Roger Webster who has studied the physiology of brass playing and could see if you're doing something wrong.

    Sorry guys, don't mean to belittle your advice (which is both well-intentioned and helpful) but you're dealing with someone's health here, not just their breath control!
  19. zak

    zak Member

    Well said that person!!!!!

    This shouldn't really be a topic for discussion on a forum such as this in my opinion.

    Go see your doctor asap!!!!

  20. JayneSop

    JayneSop Member

    Headache thing

    I disagree. I think it is a suitable topic for conversation on here. If these headaches last for a lenght of time then yes it should be a medical matter. But if a number of people suffer the same problem and the discomfort only lasts a matter of seconds in may be worth considereing changing breathing technique etc first. Especially as I think the soprano player in questiuon is not even thinking of not playing blitz in the contest... so why not change a few things to see if it helps.

    I've always suffered from this type of headache... but the more experienced i've become the less frequent they occur. I've never been concerned with it because after a few seconds it disappears. Don't think its caused me any long lasting damage... perhaps some of my band won't agree with that though!!!