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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformanceMusical Miscellany(Moderators: JP, BGuttman) Is it okay to puff your cheeks when you play?
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Terraplane8Bob
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« Reply #20 on: Jun 30, 2017, 06:24PM »

   I'd almost forgotten my earliest encounter with the "Puffed Cheeks Syndrome" when, as a young student at The Eastman School of Music, I was sent to the far reaches of Rochester, NY to accumulate "practice teaching" hours by teaching private lessons to school children who had the misfortune to be on the outskirts of the system, so that music instruction was not a regular part of their school day.  To this day, I remember the names of two young boys who desperately wanted to learn how to play the trumpet, and I was the guy who was assigned to make it happen.  Things went along fairly well except that one of the boys had a hard time being able to play even two notes in a row without difficulty.  He was diligent and followed every instruction to a "T", but simply couldn't repeat any successful attempt a second time.  I always noticed that he would puff out his cheeks, which would distort his embouchure terribly, but his enthusiasm was boundless, and I was patient beyond measure, so we struggled along for weeks with almost no improvement to his progress.
    One day, after another fruitless session with my little charge, I went to the school office to file my paperwork when one of the school secretaries asked, "How are things going with little "Joey" ?"   I related how frustrating it had become and wondered if he'd ever be able to achieve his desire to be a trumpet player.  He once told me that his Father promised to buy him his own trumpet if he could become proficient enough.  His diction was always unusual, but I didn't particularly pay attention to it.  The secretary then stated, "Yes --- I just wondered if Joey could play trumpet seeing as how he has a "lateral lisp".  Says I, "Lateral Lisp" !!!   What in the Hell is a lateral lisp ?   Well, it turns out that little Joey had an affliction that whenever he attempted to speak or move air through his mouth, the back of his tongue would rise and force the air to puff his cheeks outwards causing a problem that a freshman teacher like myself had never encountered, let alone knew what to do about it.
   Obviously, Joey's problem was unsolvable and he might have become a great drummer, but that story is one reason that I always discouraged students from puffing out their cheeks !  If it works for you ---- go for it !    Cheers !!   Bob
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Roebird37

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« Reply #21 on: Jul 01, 2017, 05:49AM »

I have always advocated not blowing your cheeks out.

If you do, you are turning yourself into a set of bagpipes! with your mouth being the bag. You are then not controlling the expulsion of the air correctly but relying on the elasticity of your cheeks which I don't think is good practice. The only time I have ever asked students to blow their cheeks out is when the come to me with a very thin sound caused by narrowing the gap between the cheeks inside the mouth. This happens when you make too much effort to not blow your cheeks out. Blowing you cheeks out and playing until you run out of air will help to relax the embouchure and produce a fuller sound.

Besides, you look like a hamster just after its lunch. :(

Cheers

Stewbones

You gave me this advice last time I met you, and I owe you thanks because it did help.  I was trying so hard not to let my cheeks move at all, that I was keeping them in a concrete-like state!  It has helped to relax those muscles, although to me it feels as though they're puffing out, it's not noticeable when I play in front of the mirror.
All the best,

Sam
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harrison.t.reed
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« Reply #22 on: Jul 01, 2017, 06:05AM »

A little cheek puff helps the multiphonics resonate better. The OP is delving into advanced and extended techniques, is all.
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Georgilocks
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« Reply #23 on: Jul 02, 2017, 08:45AM »

There's a big difference in your perception of your sound and how it sounds to someone listening in front of the bell.

None of my band directors have said my sound was bad. They've all said it was very good but I should work to keep the cheeks in.
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« Reply #24 on: Jul 02, 2017, 09:30AM »

It's almost impossible to puff your cheeks if you play with firm corners, so it's likely that your embouchure isn't working as well as it could (without puffed cheeks). No matter how good you think you sound, you could surely improve if you worked on it.
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baileyman
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« Reply #25 on: Jul 02, 2017, 11:28AM »





Guy needs a lesson. 

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RMTrombone
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« Reply #26 on: Jul 02, 2017, 07:41PM »

Good one baileyman! :)
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Arranger-Transcriber
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« Reply #27 on: Jul 02, 2017, 10:38PM »

There are quite a few remarks here about how puffy cheeks can affect embouchure, and I'm sure it does.  But something else occurs to me as well. Puffy cheeks may also affect the Eustachian tubes to such an extent that we are hearing what we play with a different set of ears.  I would suggest recording some passages both with puffy cheeks and without.  Then listen carefully to the recording to see if you can hear the difference you believe you had been hearing.  I confess that this is sheer hypothesis, but probably more than a few of us are curious about the results of such an experiment.
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Stewbones43

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« Reply #28 on: Jul 03, 2017, 02:35AM »





Guy needs a lesson. 


Good one baileyman! :)

He might have sounded even better if he hadn't puffed his cheeks out.

Cheers

Stewbones
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« Reply #29 on: Jul 03, 2017, 05:10AM »

It's almost impossible to puff your cheeks if you play with firm corners, so it's likely that your embouchure isn't working as well as it could (without puffed cheeks). No matter how good you think you sound, you could surely improve if you worked on it.

Well............. okay, but not everybody agrees on where the corners are.

If you are keeping the corners firm, and that really means the corners and below, then the cheeks can puff out like Dizzy without affecting them. 

But if you have too much tension in the face above the corners, they won't puff. 

One way to reduce tension above, and get a better feel for where the firmness should be, is to deliberately puff.  When you do that on purpose and pay attention, you will probably notice that you do it by relaxing. 
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Terraplane8Bob
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« Reply #30 on: Jul 04, 2017, 09:55AM »

"Arranger-Transcriber" made a very interesting point about the effect on the Eustachian tubes when you puff out your cheeks.  I've always thought that our trumpet-playing bretheren, if anything, will tend to play sharp.  I always attributed it to the fact that they have a far greater pressure in their oral cavity which, when pressing against the Eustachian tubes, dulls the presence of higher overtones in their sound.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE trumpet players [especially Ruby Braff], but the tendency to overcome that phenomenon is still there.  It could also be the reason that several others have mentioned that they seem to get a "darker" sound when puffing their cheeks --- the dulling of the higher overtones.  If you listen to a fixed pitch while blowing air pressure into your mouth with your mouth closed, you will hear what seems to be a "flattening" of the pitch which is in reality the pressure on your hearing apparatus giving you incorrect feedback.  It would be interesting to hear comments from Dr. Dave of "Wedge" mouthpiece fame since he's both an MD and a trumpeter.  Dave --- You out there ??
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davdud101
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« Reply #31 on: Jul 04, 2017, 11:17AM »

I hate to come in with what might be considered one of those useless responses - but I know that for me, I get MORE control and volume in the tone with VERY CONTROLLED puffed cheeks.
Particularly when moving into the lower register, it's like air flows into my cheeks - VERY lightly, with the absolute minimum amount of pressure required to make them move / push the outwards, NOT to where I'd actually need to consciously fill them with air e.g., use WAY too much air pressure to make a nice sound on the instrument)
 with air and they support the note
It's something that sort of developed itself once I started with high brass instruments...

Not sure if it's worth anything to you, hopefully I'm not throwing a wrench into anything (and I'm expecting to receive some backlash for this response, as I usually do - but this is just something that's worked *well* for me and my playing!)  Good!
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harrison.t.reed
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« Reply #32 on: Jul 04, 2017, 04:54PM »

Wow. I just watched Rosolino play "Yesterdays" on YouTube. Apparently it is OK to puff your cheeks out....

In another life, I would have said no way. Puffin is for fools. But my life is different now.

All I can say about Frank is "deayumm". They don't make people like that any more.... the good parts of Frank, anyways..
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baileyman
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« Reply #33 on: Jul 04, 2017, 05:49PM »

Wow. I just watched Rosolino play "Yesterdays" on YouTube. ...

Man, there's a whole lotta movement going' on in there, too. 

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Geezerhorn

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« Reply #34 on: Jul 04, 2017, 06:09PM »

Man, there's a whole lotta movement going' on in there, too. 


Frank Rosolino - Yesterdays

This vid?   Don't know

I see rock-solid trombone; angle to face never changing.

...Geezer

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Georgilocks
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« Reply #35 on: Jul 04, 2017, 06:10PM »

There are quite a few remarks here about how puffy cheeks can affect embouchure, and I'm sure it does.  But something else occurs to me as well. Puffy cheeks may also affect the Eustachian tubes to such an extent that we are hearing what we play with a different set of ears.  I would suggest recording some passages both with puffy cheeks and without.  Then listen carefully to the recording to see if you can hear the difference you believe you had been hearing.  I confess that this is sheer hypothesis, but probably more than a few of us are curious about the results of such an experiment.

I might post some.
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trb420
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« Reply #36 on: Jul 04, 2017, 08:15PM »

Well............. okay, but not everybody agrees on where the corners are.

If you are keeping the corners firm, and that really means the corners and below, then the cheeks can puff out like Dizzy without affecting them. 

But if you have too much tension in the face above the corners, they won't puff. 

One way to reduce tension above, and get a better feel for where the firmness should be, is to deliberately puff.  When you do that on purpose and pay attention, you will probably notice that you do it by relaxing. 

I just tried this, and found that I can keep firm corners (where I consider the corners to be) and puff my cheeks, but at the expense of relaxation. Everything tenses up, and I can't see how it could be beneficial in any way. Of course, if someone plays with too much tension to begin with, that might be a different story.
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« Reply #37 on: Jul 05, 2017, 02:46AM »


If Georgilocks can play like Rosolino and puff his cheeks no more than Frank did - I'd say he's just fine!  Yes, Georgi - it's "okay" with me. 

Another, lengthier example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT5FrYz7RtI

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baileyman
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« Reply #38 on: Jul 05, 2017, 04:50AM »

Frank Rosolino - Yesterdays

This vid?   Don't know

I see rock-solid trombone; angle to face never changing.

...Geezer



Really?  Hmmm.  People see things differently. 

Try at 30 sec and watch the muscles.  They're dancing all over the place. 

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Geezerhorn

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« Reply #39 on: Jul 05, 2017, 05:18AM »

Really?  Hmmm.  People see things differently. 

Try at 30 sec and watch the muscles.  They're dancing all over the place. 


Well of course they are. What I see is muscular contraction and relaxation for the chops to vibrate at different frequencies for the different pitches. But I do not see him shifting or pivoting or whatever else that may be called when the angle of the horn changes relative to the chops, or the angle of the chops changes relative to the horn, however one wants to perceive it.

...Geezer
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