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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:51 pm    Post subject: Physical Fitness Reply with quote

As a textbook couch potato, physical exercise hasn't exactly been my hobby (mostly because I found it rather dull). Lately however I've been experiencing some shortness of breath while playing the trumpet (which is likely technique related though) so I figured I'd try and pick up cycling again, with improving my trumpet playing as a motivator. I've been wondering though, how much does general fitness affect trumpet playing? I'm pretty sure it won't hurt, other than less time to practice (and it obviously has other benefits) but in your opinions, does it help make you a better player?
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ebolton
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:31 am    Post subject: I Want to Watch This Reply with quote

I've always been pretty fit, right up to the pandemic. The last year has been terrible for my routine. In my experience, being fit makes EVERYTHING easier, including and maybe especially trumpet.

I'm interested to see responses from people who actually play well, though.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think the physical fitness beyond being able to comfortably 'brisk walk' for about 30 minutes would make much difference for recreational amateur trumpet playing. For a lead player doing daily multi-hour performances more fitness might be beneficial.

Do you have actual 'shortness of breath' - meaning that you are unable to do a full inhale? If that's the situation, then I would see a doctor.

If you get 'light-headed' or maybe a little drowsy, it might be you are not taking enough time between the items you are playing. Try taking an extra 30 seconds of relaxed breathing.
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Brassnose
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree; there can be benefits. In my younger (long gone) years I was playing the trumpet in two bands and at the same time was in a track and field team. I once qualified for a national championship and three times for state championships and to this day believe that the regular running up and down the hills was beneficial for my air management and over all lung capacity. As I enjoyed (and recently re-started) medium-long distance running I hope to once again benefit from the combination.

One thing that currently bothers me more is the weight of my bass trumpet on long (practice) sessions. I’m rather short and my arms do get tired over time with the longer and heavier bass instrument - I’m not much of the weight lifting type. Seriously considering going to a three valve instrument or even a British baritone.

We’re still talking decent amateur level with quite a way to go to pro level, so take it FWIW.
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Bflatman
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are all kinds of benefits that come with better fitness and there are different fitness goals.

Cycling can build aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

Aerobic fitness comes from better use of air, lung development, and use of larger portions of the lungs. This aids in breathing and making better use of your air.

General cycling helps here

Anaerobic fitness is fitness while in oxygen debt having used up all your oxygen reserves and continuing to exercise.

Speed cycling mountain biking and marathon biking helps here.

During daily exertions of sitting and walking we dont take large breaths so we only use around a half of our lung capacity.

In exertions like running and jumping we use perhaps another 30 percent but we never use in any exertions more than 80 per cent of our lung capacity.

Singers and those musicians who learn to use breath properly and this includes trumpet players who use their air properly, use far more of their lung capacity and can reach 100 per cent.

The best athletes who have for decades exercised deeply both aerobically and anaerobically have been discovered to have physically larger lungs than non athletes of the same physique.

It is unproven that their exercising has directly developed their larger lung size and larger lung capacity but I personally believe there is a connection.

I believe that improved health gained through cycling will help trumpet playing I have no direct proof of this just my opinion but everything points to it being correct.

On the other hand trumpet playing is a workout in itself so it can be argued that trumpet playing can help your cycling.

Everything is connected.

I was an athlete, a silver medalist, and gained a national coach award in my area, and in xray I was discovered to have very large lungs. That does not hamper my playing I can play very long tones I can choose where to breathe and I can play some very short pieces on only one breath.

I would expect an accomplished trumpet player to be able to do all these as well.

I believe running will help, cycling will help, swimming will help, kyaking will help.

What will not help is cutting into your practice time to do these activities.

A balance in all things is necessary.
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Voltrane
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ebolton wrote:
« I've always been pretty fit, right up to the pandemic. The last year has been terrible for my routine.« 
Absolutely! Exactly the same for me...
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john4860
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you watch "Never too Late" The Doc Severinsen Story he advocates staying in shape and in his 90's still goes to the gym three times a week.
In fact he's shown working out and Doc is definitely serious about pushing himself to his physical limits and beyond.
If his playing is any kind of indication, then physical fitness is an integral component of trumpet playing.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayKosta wrote:
Do you have actual 'shortness of breath'

If you get 'light-headed' or maybe a little drowsy, it might be you are not taking enough time between the items you are playing. Try taking an extra 30 seconds of relaxed breathing.

No, that's not really it. Specifically, when I play ballads/chorals/long tones softly I tend to only use a fraction of the air I inhale to play, and I end up having to 'burst exhale' after a few phrases (roughly 30-60 seconds of playing continuously with small inhalations inbetween). It often takes me a few moments to recuperate before I can start playing again, with some rather heavy breathing. Which you can imagine, kinda ruins the effect of such music.

Breathing in through my nose rather than my mouth helps somewhat, but I'm not quite sure how to finish an entire piece yet without taking a measure inbetween to properly exhale...and the music that I'm currently practicing doesn't really allow for that.

I was kinda hoping that exercise might help my endurance a bit. Thank you all for your input, it's appreciated.

Brassnose wrote:
One thing that currently bothers me more is the weight of my bass trumpet on long (practice) sessions. I’m rather short and my arms do get tired over time with the longer and heavier bass instrument - I’m not much of the weight lifting type. Seriously considering going to a three valve instrument or even a British baritone.

Have you considered maybe using something like Ergobrass (even if just for those longer practice sessions)?
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Bflatman
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hibidogrulez it is excess carbon dioxide in stale air that you hold in your lungs that has been unused in playing that leads to pain in the chest not the oxygen or lack of it.

Efficiency is not just in playing it is in air use as well.

The inhaling of air in small amounts to suit the passage you are about to play helps in controlling the amount of stale air you need to exhale before breathing once more.

If you can match the amount of air you breathe in to the amount you need to breathe out in playing so that you dont need to breathe out much at all in order to breathe in, then things should get easier.

Modulate the amount you breathe in to match how much you need to reach your next breathing point so as to have almost totally exhaled it all in playing by the time you reach your breathing point.

If you get it wrong and run out or the batural breathing point is too far away then you can grab a tiny sip of air to get you through without it being noticed.

With practice audiences believe you dont breathe at all they simply dont notice the breaths and the many sips.

Practice by playing a familiar piece but dont tank up with air take in half the air you normally would and play until you either reach a natural breathing point or run out and then slip in a few sips in as you play.
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Jaw04
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doing any kind of cardio is definitely good. For me though, the most important thing that makes trumpet playing better for me is yoga. It helps with opening up the body, releasing tension in the body, drawing awareness and control of the breath, strengthening the core, and clearing the mind. If I wake up in the morning and my body is tight, my trumpet playing is not very good. After some yoga I play a lot better and feel much more comfortable while doing it. It makes playing in a relaxed manner with good posture much easier.
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bflatman wrote:
hibidogrulez it is excess carbon dioxide in stale air that you hold in your lungs that has been unused in playing that leads to pain in the chest not the oxygen or lack of it.

Efficiency is not just in playing it is in air use as well.

The inhaling of air in small amounts to suit the passage you are about to play helps in controlling the amount of stale air you need to exhale before breathing once more.

If you can match the amount of air you breathe in to the amount you need to breathe out in playing so that you dont need to breathe out much at all in order to breathe in, then things should get easier.

Modulate the amount you breathe in to match how much you need to reach your next breathing point so as to have almost totally exhaled it all in playing by the time you reach your breathing point.

If you get it wrong and run out or the batural breathing point is too far away then you can grab a tiny sip of air to get you through without it being noticed.

With practice audiences believe you dont breathe at all they simply dont notice the breaths and the many sips.

Practice by playing a familiar piece but dont tank up with air take in half the air you normally would and play until you either reach a natural breathing point or run out and then slip in a few sips in as you play.

+1
I struggled with this for a time myself. Focusing on intake too much lead me to fail to expel and not recognizing this symptom lead me to inhale even more which turned into a vicious cycle. It can be good practice to use really big inhalations but you definitely don't want/need to do so all the time.
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ebolton
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It isn't just the volume of air you can suck in, which is dependent on the size of your lungs. As you get fitter, your body gets better at transporting the oxygen out of that air into your blood and from your blood into both your brain and muscles. This happens at a cellular level.

I was a serious athlete in the day, in both bicycling and indoor rowing. I still would be but for medical circumstances. I'm pretty sure enhanced fitness would really improve a trumpeter.
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SMrtn
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I like to lay down and wait till it passes. But having said that, I begrudgingly walk every day if I can for at least half an hour, and it is absolutely advantageous for breath control etc.
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Buzzcut50
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:06 pm    Post subject: Shape up Reply with quote

Where exactly I don't remember, but in an interview Phil Smith talked about sitting next to Joe Alessi when Joe had big solos coming up. Said Joe would swim and trim down into noticeably better shape by the time solo day came.
And makes sense, the better shape your body is in, the easier it is for you to just live, the easier it will be to play the horn.

Cheers,
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BraeGrimes
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, if it helps you live longer it might provide you with a few extra years of playing trumpet.

In all seriousness, being fit can help you sit at a chair better for longer periods of time, so I'm sure it could help trumpet playing. Even the isometric strength required to hold the thing in a good playing position for longer periods of time can be improved by some simple strength exercises. I started training (and sometimes competing in) Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (without the gi, as the gi was fatiguing my fingers quite a lot). I reckon just going 3 or 4 times a week improves my mental health well enough to be a better player even with a limited practice schedule.

It's all anecdotal, but in these forums we obsess over gear specs and pedagogy and rarely talk about physiology AWAY from the instrument. Great job for bringing it up - I'm glad to hear people talking about this!
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BraeGrimes
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just thought of another great anecdote:

"Being in shape is like the cheat code to life. If the hardest thing you do in a day is lift a heavy weight, the rest of your life will be a piece of cake." - some bodybuilder/strength-coach... bit of a broken quote. Obviously ignoring the detriment of over-training, but the sentiment is the same.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a stray thought, but if one values their physical fitness and health only in relation to playing trumpet, then they may need more than exercise. An attitude adjustment is mandated.
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Jeff_Purtle
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here’s a lecture worth a listen from Dr. Larry Miller, M.D. who was a successful cardio vascular surgeon and specializing in sports medicine.

https://www.purtle.com/audio/claude-gordon-brass-camp-1992-larry-miller-health-fitness-and-physiology

Jeff
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JVL
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hello
it has many many positive impacts, but it'll not transfer directly to your trumpet playing.
For instance, Bobby Shew, whom i know since 1993, has unfortunately health problems, and when he came here for one week and two concerts, i can tell you that he played fire ! Of course, in better health, he could play easier.

Conclusion, practice physical activities, but don't expect trumpet miracles
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy Del wrote:
Just a stray thought, but if one values their physical fitness and health only in relation to playing trumpet, then they may need more than exercise. An attitude adjustment is mandated.

You misunderstood my original post. I do value my health, but my physical fitness is sufficient for everyday life and that means it's hard to find a proper source of motivation to 'do more', especially when daily life includes a million distractions. I've tried exercising in the past and never could keep it up because it's so dreadfully boring (team sports are even worse because of the attitude of most 'team players').

So I have to motivate myself somehow, and the promise of improving my playing even a little bit does the job for now.
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