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Dixieland57
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« on: Nov 26, 2017, 05:33AM »

Hi, when you have an occasional day who you can't practice at full volume what do you think is the best, a practice mute or mouthpiece buzzing, slide precision work, singing accurate pitch, etc?

Thank you
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« Reply #1 on: Nov 26, 2017, 07:29AM »

The practice mute is less than ideal but playing 105% of a trombone is a lot better than playing with only 5% of your instrument.
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 26, 2017, 09:37AM »

Hi, when you have an occasional day who you can't practice at full volume what do you think is the best, a practice mute or mouthpiece buzzing, slide precision work, singing accurate pitch, etc?

Thank you

Maybe do a little of all?

Leif
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 26, 2017, 09:42AM »

Personally, I only do a small amount of freebuzzing - 3 or 4 minutes is plenty, once or twice during the day.  More than that at a time can be counterproductive.

I'm not a fan of practice mutes of any kind.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 26, 2017, 09:56AM »

I've been doing the Doug Elliot, just playing very, very quietly. I find this much more useful than a practice mute or buzzing.
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 26, 2017, 11:10AM »

Don't understand your quote burgerbob...
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 26, 2017, 11:14AM »

Basically just practicing as normal, but as quietly as you can possibly play. So that someone outside the room wouldn't even know you're there. You get to actually play (at a low dynamic, obviously) and this practice carries over to the real horn pretty well, I think.
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 26, 2017, 12:41PM »

Eh. I dig the practice mute. Not for long of course, but I like practicing with a mute more then buzzing or playing very quietly. Note that I never warm up or practice fundamentals more then a day or two in a row on a practice mute and I never practice actual music with a practice mute.
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 27, 2017, 02:56AM »

Sometimes, very rarelly though, I use a practise mute, as loud as possible. Just to get the feeling of really pushing.
My freebuzzing and mpc buzzing every dag is less then 2 minutes. I do play as soft as possible often.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 27, 2017, 11:40AM »

Great info. I had exactly the same question.

Could someone explain why playing really quietly is good for developing as a trombone player? And how much of your practice should you devote to it? Is it like free-buzzing?

Thanks!
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 27, 2017, 11:44AM »

Same curiosity...
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« Reply #11 on: Nov 27, 2017, 02:59PM »

Have you ever tried it?
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« Reply #12 on: Nov 27, 2017, 03:38PM »

Great info. I had exactly the same question.

Could someone explain why playing really quietly is good for developing as a trombone player? And how much of your practice should you devote to it? Is it like free-buzzing?

Thanks!


I find that soft playing is like putting my technique under a microscope. For me, Loud playing presents its own challenges but I find it can cover up a few weak areas in how you play....

I find that its hard to have your airflow evenly when playing soft, and finding just the right balance for good articulation in quiet playing can be tricky. I bet you have heard plenty of players enter soft passages with terrible attack, uneven sounds and poor pitch.

I find that if I can play something REALLY well at an extremely soft dynamic then usually its not too difficult to play it very loud as well. The opposite doesnt seem to apply though.... at least for me.

Having said that, I think the best way to work on soft playing is to try and match it to you loud playing. Play loud, and gradually take the dynamic down on whatever excersise you are playing. Dont ever compromise that ease or airflow, attack and resonance of sound just because you are playing softer. I like to think of my soft playing as exactly the same as my loud playing in approach, just on a smaller scale.
I believe they go hand in hand with each other, but I bet you will find that as your soft playing improves you will be amazed at some improvements in other areas of your playing too without you realising!
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« Reply #13 on: Nov 27, 2017, 04:02PM »

Yup, I found my loud stuff got a lot better and (most impressively to me) easier after doing lots of soft playing.
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« Reply #14 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:20AM »

And when soft is too soft ?
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #15 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:26AM »

When YOU can't hear it.
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« Reply #16 on: Nov 30, 2017, 06:20AM »

Have you ever tried it?

Hi Doug,

Of course. I'm always looking for different ways to improve. A few of my observations:

1. My aperture 'pops' open off to the side when I'm playing whisper quiet. I have to work hard to centre it.
2. Overtone exercises to higher tones are easier at this low volume. But I'm reaching the notes differently. It's more of a pucker plus the use of my tongue level (at least I notice it a lot more). It really feels like I'm whistling the high notes.
3. The overtone exercise, slurring between the partials, and keeping the air flowing, is a lot more challenging.
4. Articulation exercises aren't the same. They seem more like strength building for the tongue, but there's no interaction with the airflow.
5. It's a lot more comfortable holding the trombone for 30 minutes without the mute in (I have a Yamaha silent brass mute).

I think answering "why" it's effective would help me pick a subset of exercises that this whisper playing is most beneficial for.

On a related note, I'm doing the "Cat Anderson" 5-minute whisper C exercise on the cornet with my son. Blowing a whisper middle c for 5 minutes (breathing allowed!) That seems to be purely to build endurance. We've done a 5 days in a row, but so far, nothing to report, except my son is definitely bored with it!

Cheers, Pete
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 05, 2017, 01:06AM »

Hi Doug,

Of course. I'm always looking for different ways to improve. A few of my observations:

1. My aperture 'pops' open off to the side when I'm playing whisper quiet. I have to work hard to centre it.
2. Overtone exercises to higher tones are easier at this low volume. But I'm reaching the notes differently. It's more of a pucker plus the use of my tongue level (at least I notice it a lot more). It really feels like I'm whistling the high notes.
3. The overtone exercise, slurring between the partials, and keeping the air flowing, is a lot more challenging.
4. Articulation exercises aren't the same. They seem more like strength building for the tongue, but there's no interaction with the airflow.
5. It's a lot more comfortable holding the trombone for 30 minutes without the mute in (I have a Yamaha silent brass mute).

I think answering "why" it's effective would help me pick a subset of exercises that this whisper playing is most beneficial for.

On a related note, I'm doing the "Cat Anderson" 5-minute whisper C exercise on the cornet with my son. Blowing a whisper middle c for 5 minutes (breathing allowed!) That seems to be purely to build endurance. We've done a 5 days in a row, but so far, nothing to report, except my son is definitely bored with it!

Cheers, Pete
1. If your aperture wants to be to the side, there's at least a possibility that you shouldn't fight it, let it be there.  Not everybody should play "centered.". I certainly don't.
2. I can't say for sure without seeing it, but that sounds like a good thing.
3. Yes it's challenging and good for you.
4. I probably wouldn't use this kind of playing for articulation exercise, and "strength building for the tongue" may not be a good thing.
5. Yes, one of the reasons I don't like to  practice with any mute.
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 05, 2017, 08:02AM »

snip...

On a related note, I'm doing the "Cat Anderson" 5-minute whisper C exercise on the cornet with my son. Blowing a whisper middle c for 5 minutes (breathing allowed!) That seems to be purely to build endurance. We've done a 5 days in a row, but so far, nothing to report, except my son is definitely bored with it!


I'm pretty sure the Cat Anderson routine calls for a whisper G (not a C - the low C doesn't engage the chops enough and the in-the-staff C often introduces other issues.) -- and many people don't play it correctly.  They just play it soft and that's not what Cat was advocating.  It has to be played so the sound almost isn't there at all.  For me, I find it helps with both efficiency and with range.  YMMV, of course.

And for me, Doug's exercises have been more beneficial overall, for all my brass playing.  (But I do occasionally do the whisper G when I'm working my trumpet chops.)

--Andy in OKC
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 05, 2017, 08:37AM »

But realize I've actually worked with Andy directly, both by Skype and in person.
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« Reply #20 on: Dec 05, 2017, 12:07PM »

A bit off topic-- when asked about a small point of warming up in a masterclass, CSO tubist Arnold Jacobs admitted that he played and taught so much he was never cold. He was always warmed up.

Probably the same with Cat Anderson. Mere mortals can READ about exercises, but until you've lived in Cat Anderson's chops and been on the bus for 25 years it is a different matter.

Try mutes and buzzing. The important thing is that you're blowing air, and staying in shape. Better to think about buzzing and mutes while using those methods, than take a day off, if you're concerned about the physical part of your playing.

As for Cat Anderson? His personal mouthpiece has been described as: " a dime, with a hole drilled in it." Take that into consideration as well.
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« Reply #21 on: Dec 05, 2017, 01:51PM »


Try mutes and buzzing. The important thing is that you're blowing air, and staying in shape. Better to think about buzzing and mutes while using those methods, than take a day off, if you're concerned about the physical part of your playing.


+1

Buzzing and mutes are all good IMO..
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« Reply #22 on: Dec 05, 2017, 02:52PM »

1. If your aperture wants to be to the side, there's at least a possibility that you shouldn't fight it, let it be there.  Not everybody should play "centered.". I certainly don't.
2. I can't say for sure without seeing it, but that sounds like a good thing.
3. Yes it's challenging and good for you.
4. I probably wouldn't use this kind of playing for articulation exercise, and "strength building for the tongue" may not be a good thing.
5. Yes, one of the reasons I don't like to  practice with any mute.

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the comments - make sense.

Pete
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« Reply #23 on: Dec 05, 2017, 07:34PM »

But realize I've actually worked with Andy directly, both by Skype and in person.

 Good!  Yes, and the exercises without the understanding that goes with them would be pointless.  And likely only specific to my particular shortcomings.

Probably time for another lesson... :)

--Andy
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« Reply #24 on: Dec 06, 2017, 12:54AM »

The practice mute is less than ideal but playing 105% of a trombone is a lot better than playing with only 5% of your instrument.

That one I strongly disagree with. Practice mutes can destabilise playing far more easily than mouthpiece buzzing.  It would take too long to go into the reasons but it is what I have seen over many years.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #25 on: Dec 06, 2017, 06:15AM »

That one I strongly disagree with. Practice mutes can destabilise playing far more easily than mouthpiece buzzing.  It would take too long to go into the reasons but it is what I have seen over many years.

Chris Stearn

Hi Chris,

Is that because of the significant additional back-pressure that the plugging up of the bell produces? In that case, going to the other extreme of having none would also be bad, but not as much. But are there advantages of buzzing on the mouthpiece that make it superior to always playing on the trombone (at least for a little bit)? Or, if you can always have your trombone, that's always the best option. The reason I ask is that if the correct back-pressure is a key issue, then using a Warburton plug at the end of the mouthpiece would seem to be the best all around compromise.

(I've been on travel for a week (with another two weeks to go) with my trombone, a spare kelly MP, and a practice mute, and I've been limited in being able to play at full volume. So I'm looking for "best practices" for having productive practice sessions". I have noticed that my lip flexibilities are getting worse from just using the practice mute, so I've started playing super quiet as suggested by Doug).

Cheers, Pete
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« Reply #26 on: Dec 06, 2017, 09:58AM »


then using a Warburton plug at the end of the mouthpiece would seem to be the best all around compromise.


Do you mean a Warburton Buzzard?
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« Reply #27 on: Dec 07, 2017, 12:25AM »

Hi Chris,

Is that because of the significant additional back-pressure that the plugging up of the bell produces? In that case, going to the other extreme of having none would also be bad, but not as much. But are there advantages of buzzing on the mouthpiece that make it superior to always playing on the trombone (at least for a little bit)? Or, if you can always have your trombone, that's always the best option. The reason I ask is that if the correct back-pressure is a key issue, then using a Warburton plug at the end of the mouthpiece would seem to be the best all around compromise.

(I've been on travel for a week (with another two weeks to go) with my trombone, a spare kelly MP, and a practice mute, and I've been limited in being able to play at full volume. So I'm looking for "best practices" for having productive practice sessions". I have noticed that my lip flexibilities are getting worse from just using the practice mute, so I've started playing super quiet as suggested by Doug).

Cheers, Pete

It's to do with the way the brain works. It sees a trombone with a mute as a trombone but a mouthpiece alone is viewed as something very different. Previous trombone learning can be damaged by extended mute work which can be mentally overlaid with the change in resistance.  Mouthpiece buzzing is mentally treated as a unique action though there will be spillover into normal playing with extended use. The spillover is usually beneficial.
It is far mor complex but that is a rough idea.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #28 on: Dec 07, 2017, 03:29AM »

I've been using these things for so long now it's become as normal as changing shoes. I made a choice to live somewhere where I can't play open, but with other benefits. So what started as a compromise has given me some gains, and even if I were to live somewhere where I could practice open, I would still use them.






(But not the DW practice mute though..)
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« Reply #29 on: Dec 07, 2017, 07:16AM »

I've buy a Maslet mute and it's even better than the Bremner!
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« Reply #30 on: Dec 07, 2017, 12:26PM »

I've buy a Maslet mute and it's even better than the Bremner!

That's been my experience as well.
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« Reply #31 on: Dec 07, 2017, 02:29PM »

It's to do with the way the brain works. It sees a trombone with a mute as a trombone but a mouthpiece alone is viewed as something very different. Previous trombone learning can be damaged by extended mute work which can be mentally overlaid with the change in resistance.  Mouthpiece buzzing is mentally treated as a unique action though there will be spillover into normal playing with extended use. The spillover is usually beneficial.
It is far mor complex but that is a rough idea.

Chris Stearn

Hi Chris,

Thanks that makes sense.

Pete
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