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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPractice Room(Moderator: blast) How to get your chops back to feeling good again
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goldentone
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« on: Jun 15, 2016, 12:56PM »

Every now and then things will be going well with my playing and then all of a sudden I'll get in a funk for a few days... sometimes longer. It can be from simply over playing, playing too loud and high for an extended period of time, or just not practicing the right things. Has anybody else experienced this sort of thing? What are some concepts/ exercises/ techniques you use to get yourself back to feeling and playing well again?
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BGuttman
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« Reply #1 on: Jun 15, 2016, 01:19PM »

Happens to all of us.

My suggestion: take it easy for a day or two.  Practice only some long tones and not loud.  Spend the time learning about music theory.

Work your way back into playing slowly.  Work from the center of your range outwards.  If it hurts, just stop.
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« Reply #2 on: Jun 15, 2016, 01:21PM »

Every now and then things will be going well with my playing and then all of a sudden I'll get in a funk for a few days... sometimes longer. It can be from simply over playing, playing too loud and high for an extended period of time, or just not practicing the right things. Has anybody else experienced this sort of thing? What are some concepts/ exercises/ techniques you use to get yourself back to feeling and playing well again?
What works for me is trying to always do a proper warm up (I typically use Remington's warm up exercises, or Stacy's), and when practicing I always take a break after about an hour for ten or fifteen minutes before I start playing again.  Playing with as little pressure as possible is always one of my goals.  Just like an athlete over training will set up back as much as not training.  
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Rockymountaintrombone
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« Reply #3 on: Jun 15, 2016, 01:40PM »

The last reply is very similar to what I was going to say. Remington exercises, or a host of similar stuff out there is great for your chops on a daily basis to help avoid the feeling you're talking about. Whenever possible, also incorporate rest into your practice routine as well - allow some recovery time for the muscles.

I would also add that on the occasions where you have had too much playing and your chops feel stiff and sore, these simple long tone and lip slur exercises are also often the best thing for putting your chops right again. The only thing to keep in mind is that the worse you feel, the LESS you should do, and the MORE rest you should incorporate into whatever practicing you're doing at that point. Treat these exercises in a similar manner to doing easy stretching exercises when your muscles are sore from exertion - don't overdo and risk injury. Just lightly stretch things out. Some people like to do some of these exercises after a hard rehearsal as a warm-down - you could see if that's beneficial for you. If the soreness is really bad, then by all means, take time away from the horn - complete rest is the best option if you feel like you've injured yourself.

Jim Scott
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« Reply #4 on: Jun 15, 2016, 03:21PM »

The last reply is very similar to what I was going to say. Remington exercises, or a host of similar stuff out there is great for your chops on a daily basis to help avoid the feeling you're talking about. Whenever possible, also incorporate rest into your practice routine as well - allow some recovery time for the muscles.

I would also add that on the occasions where you have had too much playing and your chops feel stiff and sore, these simple long tone and lip slur exercises are also often the best thing for putting your chops right again. The only thing to keep in mind is that the worse you feel, the LESS you should do, and the MORE rest you should incorporate into whatever practicing you're doing at that point. Treat these exercises in a similar manner to doing easy stretching exercises when your muscles are sore from exertion - don't overdo and risk injury. Just lightly stretch things out. Some people like to do some of these exercises after a hard rehearsal as a warm-down - you could see if that's beneficial for you. If the soreness is really bad, then by all means, take time away from the horn - complete rest is the best option if you feel like you've injured yourself.

Jim Scott

Thanks for your great post! Hope you post more. The Remington warm up is still great. I hated it for some years but now I just like it more and more again. Long notes are good for sound. Lip slurs are good for everything.

Leif

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« Reply #5 on: Jun 15, 2016, 04:17PM »

Long notes are good for sound. Lip slurs are good for everything.


Depends how you play them...

A day off is helpful sometimes. Breaking the routine and playing some completely different stuff is good sometimes.

Avoiding tension while playing can help avoid the wooden chops feeling in the first place. Kind of thinking of letting the air do the work, create the sound and the rhythm, instead of chops and tongue. Big muscles in the torso vs small muscles in the face. Something like that.
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« Reply #6 on: Jun 15, 2016, 04:50PM »

Depends how you play them...

A day off is helpful sometimes. Breaking the routine and playing some completely different stuff is good sometimes.

Avoiding tension while playing can help avoid the wooden chops feeling in the first place. Kind of thinking of letting the air do the work, create the sound and the rhythm, instead of chops and tongue. Big muscles in the torso vs small muscles in the face. Something like that.

I agree. We have Doug Elliott here which I think is unique in solving problems like this. I believe even pro people need his guidance. Long notes, lip slurs, anything we play with tension is no good. It might make thing worse. Rests is an important thing even when everything works like a dream. Doug is available for all today thanks to technology like internet and skype.

Leif

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« Reply #7 on: Jun 15, 2016, 06:39PM »

Your chops will never fail you if 50% or more of your practice is basic fundementals in the mid to low range, with a focus on tone and intonation. If you practice only etudes, solos, and head charts, your chops may not get stronger.
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« Reply #8 on: Jun 15, 2016, 07:25PM »

Your chops will never fail you if 50% or more of your practice is basic fundementals in the mid to low range, with a focus on tone and intonation. If you practice only etudes, solos, and head charts, your chops may not get stronger.

Interesting! How often do you practice pushing your high range up? I do daily and I'm thinking I should only do it every other day.

My go to for work on the mid to low range is "Articulation" by Pasquale Bona.

...Geezer
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« Reply #9 on: Jun 15, 2016, 08:03PM »

One of my favorite relaxation exercises is a mod of one of the Clarke studies.
I start on 7th E and play a medium tempo soft, smooth chromatic scale up to bottom line Bb and back down.  Trying for the smoothest transition between each note,  and alternate between a soft DOO and a more firm DAH articulation.
Play this a few times & then go from low F to B,  then F# to C,  etc.

I also alternate between playing the Bb in first &  T third position to keep the line smooth,  sometimes using the A in low T 4th too.

Lots of variations with this exercise too,  going down lower into the trigger & double trigger range and below,  IF I'm ambitious....

This along with long tones & a LITTLE mouthpiece buzzing usually helps me out.


Eric
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« Reply #10 on: Jun 15, 2016, 11:58PM »

Interesting! How often do you practice pushing your high range up? I do daily and I'm thinking I should only do it every other day.

My go to for work on the mid to low range is "Articulation" by Pasquale Bona.

...Geezer

I don't work specifically on my upper register. The more I try forcing it above F5, the weaker it gets. All the practice that I do revolves around moving up and down from  F side range to , but no higher.

However, when I do go up into the upper register in a piece or to "test to see if it's there" it sounds very good because it's sitting on a giant pyramid of mid and low range.

This is not advice though.
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« Reply #11 on: Jun 16, 2016, 02:52AM »

This happened to me just a few months ago. It is a good reminder to *never, ever, ever* do that again. My recovery, which took about a month, was to do what I knew I should have been doing all along ... a proper routine of fundamentals done every morning, done the right way, done with lots of short breaks, done without venturing too far into areas of range/volume that are too demanding, done with a focus of always producing fine, easy, core-filled sound, and done without pushing myself too much.

For recovery, I took a few days off, then as others have said, I resumed with kid gloves for the first few days and weeks. I also stopped free buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing. Experimentation with this was something that I had added leading up to my over practicing sessions. I think that my addition of free buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing pushed me into territory of too much face time. After a couple of months, I'm nearly back to where I was in terms of repeatable performing capabilities on a daily basis.
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« Reply #12 on: Jun 16, 2016, 02:58AM »

So despite buzzing contributing to an injury, you're back at it? I wish I was the New York Phil principal and Juilliard lecturer for just long enough to convince everyone to stop buzzing and then I could die a successful man.
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« Reply #13 on: Jun 16, 2016, 03:23AM »

So despite buzzing contributing to an injury, you're back at it? I wish I was the New York Phil principal and Juilliard lecturer for just long enough to convince everyone to stop buzzing and then I could die a successful man.

I am back to a good daily routine of fundamentals but I am *not* currently experimenting with free buzzing or mouthpiece buzzing. If and when I decide to give it another try, I will be very careful to *not* over do it.

By the way, isn't it interesting how differently your advice would be taken as who you are now versus as the New York Phil principal and Julliard lecturer (which perhaps someday you could be) even though you are the same person. I listen to your advice as if you might eventually be the latter.
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« Reply #14 on: Jun 16, 2016, 04:39AM »

I don't work specifically on my upper register. The more I try forcing it above F5, the weaker it gets. All the practice that I do revolves around moving up and down from  F side range to , but no higher.

However, when I do go up into the upper register in a piece or to "test to see if it's there" it sounds very good because it's sitting on a giant pyramid of mid and low range.

This is not advice though.

That too is interesting! I'm going to re-think my approach at pushing my range up. I think I push too hard. Not that I'm taking advice from you. lol

...Geezer
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« Reply #15 on: Jun 16, 2016, 05:09AM »

So despite buzzing contributing to an injury, you're back at it? I wish I was the New York Phil principal and Juilliard lecturer for just long enough to convince everyone to stop buzzing and then I could die a successful man.

On what do you base your advice?  Definitive proof that buzzing is detrimental to one's performance?  Firsthand experience?

For some people,  free buzzing MIGHT be a chop buster where mouthpiece buzzing is just fine. Some can't free buzz,  but still play beautifully!

Personally,  I briefly mouthpiece buzz as I drive to rehearsals or gigs,  but only for 5-10 minutes,  and it works for me as a preliminary warm up.

If you believe buzzing of any sort doesn't benefit you,  that's fine,  but I am REALLY uncomfortable with you trying to convince the trombone community as a whole,  to stop without concrete evidence to support your thinking.

Eric
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« Reply #16 on: Jun 16, 2016, 08:54PM »

I'd cite the video Lindberg made on the subject but he got pooh poohed as well.

The arguments against what he said and demonstrated started with "well yes, but"
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« Reply #17 on: Jun 16, 2016, 10:03PM »

I think the best philosophy on buzzing is that if it helps you play better then do it. So, you're saying that Arnold Jacobs was wrong? Wasn't one of his quotes, "You can do no harm on the mouthpiece." It's a bold statement to say that buzzing is bad for everyone. I play the mouthpiece, but I do it sparingly and to accomplish a specific goal. Anyway, chops still feel like crap today. This is not good because I have an audition for the Air Force Concert Band in a few days. I made the finals at the President's Own audition a few weeks ago and I felt great going into this audition. I'm honestly a little worried. I hope things get back to normal. I think it was from playing Also Sprach, Heldenleben, and Bolero too much the other day. Too much high and too much loud. I had also switched to a wider rim so that changed things up a bit as well. Jacobs also said, "Play by sound and not by feel." Also, "Get your mind off your meat." ... so that's what I'm going to do.
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« Reply #18 on: Jun 17, 2016, 07:50AM »

--snip--
"Play by sound and not by feel."
--snip

This was meant for the people who would "force." They would attempt to push harder or add extra effort when attempting to play loud.

The corollary and litmus test is the following "It should always feel easy." Frank Crisafulli

So in a way, you *should be* playing by feel ... a feeling of ease.
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« Reply #19 on: Jun 17, 2016, 08:39AM »

Chances are if it sounds good it does feel easy. Although, sometimes it sounds fine and it doesn't feel good.
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