Stamina, every band needs it but how do you go about gaining it?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Metoo, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. Metoo

    Metoo Member

    This is a question that I have often wondered about. Everyone says your band needs to get some stamina but how do you go about it?

    I know that Oldham Band (Lees) actually purchased a set of practice mutes to use when they start their rehearsals. It worked for them, but my little band don't have that sort of money to spend.

    This 4th Section piece will take some blowing we keep being told but how do we go about gaining stamina for the players to play it?

    How do you go about it?
    Please give your advice and experiences.

    I'm just a 3rd 3rd cornet player who just enjoys being part of it all. METOO.
  2. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    The best way of building up stamina is to keep practicing. Push your band and yourself a little more each time. Get some 'pot-boiler' pieces out that need stamina to get through and force yourselves to play through.

    Personal practice is essential. Long notes, deep breathing, pushing the heights and depths of your range. Some of it is excruciatingly boring, but if you keep at it you will eventually get results. Get and use an arban tutor (other tutors exist) and use the exercises in your personal practice. Some of them are specifically designed to improve stamina.
  3. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    Its good to try and get at least 2 complete run throughs of the performance at rehearsals to get all players used to getting through the piece.
    For individuals, as Mike says, lots of practice. When you start to feel a bit "tired" keep going a bit longer - but keep striving for good quality playing.
  4. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Pratice...Practice....and oh yes Pratice!!!!
  5. Make your bandroom as dead as possible, totally unflaterring to the sound of the band, if the band sounds its good and big in there, when you get on a stage of a nice concert hall you will have plenty of power and stamina in store!
  6. Zeek

    Zeek Member

    A good one to try is to take the loudest part of the piece half tempo, but make sure you all put your full efort in. Do that for 2 or 3 weeks, then when you come to play it at the proper tempo with the same amount of effort it will become a breeze.

    Practice mutes work in the short run for your own personal practice but i have found this way to be more rewarding
  7. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    Our Band work up heavy pieces and tough music that pushes our techniques and stamina at the same time as working on set test pieces. Then at the end of the rehearsal we will probably do a couple of full runs of the test piece, the theory being if we can play it at 10pm after a long 2 hours there is no need to be worrying about tiredness on the day of the contest. Force of destiny, Slavonic Rhapsody were used last year along with Purcell Variations and Henry V as well as Suite for Brass.
    We have just stopped for Christmas (apart from the carol jobs) and have been issued with a set practice regime to do until we get back in January. Its a written long note warm up that lasts 20 minutes and includes notes like super c (which is beyond most of us at the moment - one of our 2nd cornet players is convinced it must be written in bass clef!) but we have to do it daily and look at the Areas piece afterwards for 5 minutes).
    To be honest its all a bit relentless and we are pushed possibly too hard but then as our MD is fond of saying - "you don`t remember the hard work when you are all celebrating in the bar..."

    PS if you want a copy of the practice warm up pm me and you can have mine!
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  8. dbenson

    dbenson New Member

    The most obvious one yet very true! ;)
  9. Di B

    Di B Member

    I would add just one word to practice....

    Practise daily.

    I found this really helped my stamina even if on some days you can just do 15 mins. It can also help if you go to other bands to help out and play through test pieces in band. Both get you reading different music and upping you effort and concentration levels.

    The other thing that can help is going on a tour (although not realistic between now and the area)
    Playing 2 hour concerts every day for 2 weeks gives you lips of steel! :)
  10. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    And the most obvious!

    You can only practice so much. Let me ask this, what does your favorite footballer do in the off season? I know, not much of an off season in this world today, but stay with me.

    Workout on the pitch. I am sure that is done. But I'll bet weight lifting, running, biking are also included.

    As instrument players, we often forget that our embouchure is make up of muscles. Playing works them out, but does it BUILD them beyond just playing? What is the equivalent to running, working on the pitch, and biking for the footballer for the brass plalyer? You must find new ways to work the embouchure!

    Buzzing on your mouthpieces WITHOUT the resistance of the instrument is excellent. Top drum and bugle corps have a major problem. They rehearse about 8 hours a day and then perform. You simply cannot play 8 hours and then play at the volume they need to!

    They do a lot of buzzing. It works the embouchure's supporting muscles.

    Now for a plug for one of my sponsors, Chop-Sticks. They are a set of weights for your embouchure. And using them as suggested is like weight lifting for the embouchure.

    The standard set has five "sticks" each a progressively different weight. You can do it while watching TV, reading, etc. Get a cold sore -- or the flu and cannot play? Chop-Sticks will help keep you in shape.

    Some people have said using a pencil is just as good. Blah. It is the same weight and not very sanitary (like Chop-Sticks stainless steel).

    Here is what the look like:


    You can see (and order them) here:

    In the picture, you see some weights you can attach. They come in the pro set and are for players who play 2 hours a day or more.

    Of course, this is an individual solution and many others listed were full band solutions.

    The best way in my mind for both individual and full band are long tones and then move to remingtons.. As a former MD, I liked having Donald Hunsberger's Remington book and Pares Scales book in the folder.

    If you could make your way through those, you would have an embouchure of steel and could play in any key.

    I really didn't like some of the ideas mentioned before. ANYTHING (mutes, etc) that make you slightly "out-of-tune" I would use very sparingly.

    Ok, that was a Yankee's 2 cents worth.

  11. satchmo101

    satchmo101 Member

    You don't end up like the tribesmen with the big floppy bottom lip do you ?
  12. towse1972

    towse1972 Active Member

    I f i have a big and demanding job on i resort to what i call interval training. 20 minutes of whatever you want to play. An hour off then another 20 etc as long as i can stand it and time permitting.
    If i have something lofty that is challenging me i practise it a third up always.
    Try this and you will improve.
    Stamina.... get on it!!
  13. I am a firm believer that stamina is more than just a physical aspect, but equally, if not moreso, a cognitive one. As musicians we often forget to realise that we are using ours brains quite intensely whilst playing, co-ordinating movements, processing patterns, creating interpretation all while watching and listening! This came as rather a rude awakening when leaving the 4th section to 2nd horn in the championship!

    Keeping up this level of concentration and brain power for sustained periods, in my opinion, is more difficult than many of us give credit. In my experience, the first thing I stop concentrating on is normally breathing!
    On occasions I've even had to remind myself on stage to breathe during bars rest, as breathing is a natural process and is easily forgotten!.....well that's my excuse.

    I think the point I'm trying to make is that if you are mentally tired, you will sound tired!
  14. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Excellent post, Arfon:clap:!

    I've noticed that, playing with bands infrequently, my stamina tends to drop a little. I think I got away with it last week, but that Christmas concert I did with you guys almost killed me! I couldn't play the next day due to swollen chops!

    In the orchestral world we tend to rely on a bumper quite frequently. For the uninitiated, a bumper is an extra player in the section usually sitting to the 1st trombone player's right. His main job is to take over on loud, sustained stuff to give the Principal a rest. In my opinion, we tend to rely on them a little too much and some players tend to get a bit on the lazy side. I suppose it also rings true of a 'jobs for the boys' attitude - a way for a teacher to offer a gig to a promising student or a struggling freelancer (like me!).

    I agree with the mental agility thing. It's so easy to fall asleep during what we percieve as 'easy' stuff. Mental stamina is probably the more difficult one to master, as you can't really do long notes to fix problems!

Share This Page