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Consistency



 
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SMrtn
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:13 pm    Post subject: Consistency Reply with quote

I don't really dig on asking for advice on every little thing that can most times be sorted with continuing practice, but this particular issue, thing, whatever, is kind of interesting to me, and I'd like to read what others think about it. </longwindedintro>

So, I'm making what I consider, good progress. I'm able to blow scales, major and minor up to the key of F# with good consistency. Not great, but good. I'm even able to sound the G major on a good day, and I'm currently going through a couple of books, and the tune I'm reading right now is Autumn Leaves. But I'm annoyed with the lack of consistency in sound I'm experiencing. I still nerf a lot of notes, and sometimes it's so ridiculous it literally makes me laugh.

I've been learning the trumpet, a most fantastic instrument, for only a few months now, and I'm wondering if any of the more experienced guys still experience this consistent sound frustration?
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GeorgeB
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I played trumpet for 12 years in the 50s and 60s and after a 50 year break made a comeback last spring. I was 79 then, had a few age related issues, and in many ways it was like learning to play all over again. In my first 6 months my playing was very inconsistent and I was cracking more notes than I want to remember. I got a little advice, and in my case it was all about a weak air flow. I just wasn't filling the tank up with a big enough breath before playing.I don't make that mistake anymore and my playing is much more consistent now. And to be honest, I really don't remember the last time I cracked a note. I really can't say if that is your problem or not.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without hearing exactly what you're describing it's hard to say for sure, but if you've only been at it a few months, what you're experiencing is probably pretty normal.
I have to mention though (yeah yeah I know, AGAIN), private lessons are an incredible help especially to a new player.

Brad
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:23 am    Post subject: Re: Consistency Reply with quote

SMrtn wrote:
the tune I'm reading right now is Autumn Leaves.

Put up video of yourself playing Autumn Leaves, maybe from a 3/4 view so you're not killing the mic with your sound but also still be able to get a good view of your embouchure.
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dstdenis
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:43 am    Post subject: Re: Consistency Reply with quote

SMrtn wrote:
I'm annoyed with the lack of consistency in sound I'm experiencing. I still nerf a lot of notes... and I'm wondering if any of the more experienced guys still experience this consistent sound frustration?

Yup. That's why we practice consistently, to develop and maintain that equilibrium between air/tongue/embouchure/mouthpiece/trumpet, and to coordinate all that with working the valves and slides. If that balance and coordination is off, it can be difficult to play even simple tunes.

If you're nerfing notes, you should stop, rest a moment and try to correct (or at least improve) the spots where you missed. Take it as slow as necessary. If you just cruise through your playing while missing notes left and right, you're learning how to miss notes. A big part of making progress in your development will be to become more meticulous about finding problems and fixing them.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes.

That is why we put in time and effort to get sound and response going each and every playing day. What the brass chat with Chris Martin: he describes how he starts the day, complete with hints that not every day is the same.

In college, I asked the same question of a retired orchestral player... his response was that consistency came in his mid 30's. About 15 years after starting his professional career. Before that, he coped as best he could and did the best he could.

cheers

Andy
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since you define your practice as primarily relating to scales, it makes me wonder if you're overlooking other critical skills. To be consistent on the horn there are many other facets that need to be developed and maintained.

Just as an FYI, here's the sort of routine I always needed to get and keep my chops.
1) Stamp warm-up (down to pedal C)
2) Stamp scales (high as I can go without straining)
3) Schlossberg exercises (1-3 depending)
4) Clarke technical study (one exercise each week, in all keys, with varying articulation)
5) Smith study
6) Etude (like Charlier or Goldmann)
7) Irons or Bai Lin (4-6 exercises)
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SMrtn
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all very much for the responses and encouragement. Really good.

It seems that my 'problem' - I use quotation marks to illustrate that it isn't a problem as such, and it isn't exclusive to me, which is very good news. I need to just keep honing my skills through practice.

Re the suggestions that people have made, they're food for thought. cheiden's suggestion of technical studies rings true for me. Yes, that type of exercise is clearly a hole in my current regime of scales and tunes only. Thank you for that.

Lessons are not something I don't see any value in, on the contrary, clearly they are of great value, as long as you have the right teacher. Skype is the only option for me, and a webcam I don't have. I guess I gotta make the effort and go get one.
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SMrtn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of consistency, what's up with lips that are strong and flexible one day, then dry and leathery the next for no apparent reason? A few glasses of water while practicing fixes it up nice, but it's just strange behaviour from one's own face.
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:06 am    Post subject: Re: Consistency Reply with quote

SMrtn wrote:
I don't really dig on asking for advice on every little thing that can most times be sorted with continuing practice, but this particular issue, thing, whatever, is kind of interesting to me, and I'd like to read what others think about it. </longwindedintro>

So, I'm making what I consider, good progress. I'm able to blow scales, major and minor up to the key of F# with good consistency. Not great, but good. I'm even able to sound the G major on a good day, and I'm currently going through a couple of books, and the tune I'm reading right now is Autumn Leaves. But I'm annoyed with the lack of consistency in sound I'm experiencing. I still nerf a lot of notes, and sometimes it's so ridiculous it literally makes me laugh.

I've been learning the trumpet, a most fantastic instrument, for only a few months now, and I'm wondering if any of the more experienced guys still experience this consistent sound frustration?


Can you sing Autumn Leaves? If so, let the little man in your mind sing while you play..
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KHH73
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cheiden wrote:
Since you define your practice as primarily relating to scales, it makes me wonder if you're overlooking other critical skills. To be consistent on the horn there are many other facets that need to be developed and maintained.

Just as an FYI, here's the sort of routine I always needed to get and keep my chops.
1) Stamp warm-up (down to pedal C)
2) Stamp scales (high as I can go without straining)
3) Schlossberg exercises (1-3 depending)
4) Clarke technical study (one exercise each week, in all keys, with varying articulation)
5) Smith study
6) Etude (like Charlier or Goldmann)
7) Irons or Bai Lin (4-6 exercises)


I think this response is RIGHT on the money. In my own playing, my greatest strides have come only after establishing a daily routine that covers all aspects of playing; tone production, flexibility, articulation, etc. In my mind the point of such a routine is that the "simple stuff" becomes automatic which then allows you to concentrate on just making music.
A fantastic book that I use for my routine is A Comprehensive Practice Routine for the aspiring brass player by Don E. Johnson. This book has been like magic for me.
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scottfsmith
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm about two years "older" than you in trumpet playing. I was about where you were in Autumn Leaves two years ago. All I did was add several hundred hours of practice and now I can read through most pieces and don't duff notes very often at all.

I didn't do many scales, I just played Autumn Leaves and a few other pieces many hundreds of times until I got them right. I am only recently starting into a practice routine with a warm-up and scales exercises etc in order to take my playing to the next level.
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:16 am    Post subject: Re: Consistency Reply with quote

SMrtn wrote:
I'm wondering if any of the more experienced guys still experience this consistent sound frustration?

That's going to be an issue as long as you play trumpet. You're constantly walking a physics tightrope. It's rumored that even Maurice Andre chipped a note once, though no one can offer solid corroboration of this.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And there is also this: I saw a quote recently by Arturo Sandoval, when asked if he always sounds great: "I always try but, not always, because the horn is mercy-less, unpredictable and traitorous."

We all need to avoid making excuses and certainly not blame the horn for less than satisfactory playing, but the truth is (I just TODAY had this conversation with one of my students), some days it just does not happen, even when there's been no lapse in practice or other apparent reason.

Brad
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Last edited by Brad361 on Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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SMrtn
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scottfsmith wrote:
I'm about two years "older" than you in trumpet playing. I was about where you were in Autumn Leaves two years ago. All I did was add several hundred hours of practice and now I can read through most pieces and don't duff notes very often at all.

I didn't do many scales, I just played Autumn Leaves and a few other pieces many hundreds of times until I got them right. I am only recently starting into a practice routine with a warm-up and scales exercises etc in order to take my playing to the next level.


I know how difficult that must have been. I mean, Autumn Leaves isn't a walk in the park at all. I'm almost there myself.
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SMrtn
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Consistency Reply with quote

Robert P wrote:
SMrtn wrote:
I'm wondering if any of the more experienced guys still experience this consistent sound frustration?

That's going to be an issue as long as you play trumpet. You're constantly walking a physics tightrope. It's rumored that even Maurice Andre chipped a note once, though no one can offer solid corroboration of this.


It's heartening to read these responses. I honestly assumed it was just me.
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SMrtn
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And....*drumroll*......I have found a teacher. First proper lesson in a few days time. She lives approx 40mins drive away. Thank you ball boys, linesmen.
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GeorgeB
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those of you having trouble with Autumn Leaves, what key are you playing in ? I have an arrangement for trumpet in the key of G and find it one of the easiest old standards out there to play.

For me, one of the toughest songs I have come across is Come Back To Sorrento, also in the key of G. I am fairly consistent in most of the old standards I play but Sorrento still gives me trouble on occasion.
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rdotson102
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As previously mentioned, having a daily setup routine is absolutely essential to developing consistency. Once you have a routine that you can play automatically, that covers all of the bases, it allows you to focus on what needs to get better in your playing. Our goal is to play music, which is hard to do if you have to actively think about fundamentals while you're playing. Although there are a lot of good ones out there, you can't go wrong with one of the simpler Bill Adam routines. I also use the Stamp exercises a lot, and they seriously opened up my sound when I was first introduced to them in college.
But about consistency, I've never met a player in my life who didn't have bad days. The difference is, on a bad day, a good pro player is at 90 - 95% (unless they're sick or hurt) which is good enough to cover pretty much anything they have to play. That's why it seems from the outside like they're always playing perfectly. They may know that things aren't working right, but they may be the only ones. When you're starting out, or playing part time with an inconsistent practice schedule, bad days can feel more like 60 - 70%, and your music might require 95%+ to be right. That's when it's rough. I've had many performances where I needed to be at my 100% to nail the part, which meant half of the performances were frustrating. That's why we practice and work at perfecting our technique, because when you're maxed out playing the notes on the page, it's not likely to be very musical, even when you hit every note. The more comfortable you are, the more focus you can put on making music. It's a lot more fun too.
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