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Avoiding tension



 
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tdromba
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Joined: 16 Nov 2001
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Charlie:

I have used some Caruso exercises on and off throughout my career with good effect. They haven't always been appropriate for what I was working on, but at other times have been very helpful.

My biggest concern when doing the exercises over a period of time (weeks/months) has always been a buildup of tension in the embouchure, to the point that the sound would begin to restrict and accuracy suffer.

What were Carmine's solutions to this difficulty? How can one avoid developing excess tension when doing the studies?

Thanks in advance!

tdromba
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_bugleboy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tdromba,

I wonder if you could expand a little on,

"My biggest concern when doing the exercises over a period of time (weeks/months) has always been a buildup of tension in the embouchure, to the point that the sound would begin to restrict and accuracy suffer. "

Where is the tension located and are there particular Caruso exercises that seem to be associated with the tension more than others? Also, is the restricted sound and inaccuracy occurring just in practice or is it carrying over to music performance?

Regards,

Charles Raymond
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tdromba
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Charlie:

I'm referring to the 'setting' exercises found in the 1979 book (orange cover), consisting of long tones played pp<ff>pp or ff>pp<ff etc. Each successive lesson adds more exercises and wider intervals...

As to 'where' the tension might be located, I can only say that the entire embouchure seems to tighten excessively, and, yes, the tension can carry over into performance. The embouchure just seems to 'lock-up' and get very flat and tight. Does that make sense.
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_bugleboy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tdromba,

Anything makes sense if it's happening. It has to be caused by something so therefore it makes sense. Here is a list of suggestions that may have a bearing on your adverse reactions.

1.) Be sure you are following directions from the text verbatim. Have you worked through the regular interval exercises or did you just start with the SLSs and LSLs?
2.) Do only one each of these exercises, and only once a day. Too much of this can defeat the purpose.
3.) A further refinement would be to use breath attacks only.
4.) Don't try to incorporate anything into your regular playing that you might experience while doing these exercises. You have to let it happen by itself. That includes controlling the speed of the air. If you want to play louder in performance just do it. Don't think about air speed. Air speed is just for the calisthenic effort in practice.
5.) If you can buzz your lips, hold that feel when practicing the Caruso stuff.
6.) Make sure you are not being result conscious about how far you feel you should get on each interval on any given day. One day to the next can be different. Just do them as directed until you get just air.

Carmine believed that tension came from muscles being out of balance. The magic in these studies is the way they are done, the modus operandi, more than the actual notes themselves.

Let me know if you think any of the six things I mentioned have any application to you.

Regards,

Charles Raymond
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PH
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Joined: 26 Nov 2001
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect Bugle Boy is right.

The most likely problem you have is that you were overdoing the exercises. Carmine never had me do more than one or two of the regular interval studies, one of the SLS studies, and one of the LSL studies each day (plus starting with the Six Notes and continuing after the intervals with other studies like-but not identical to-the ones in the book).

He also said that I shouldn't change anything about the other stuff I practiced. Keep doing Clarkes, Arban, tongueing, flexibility, playing melodies, transposing, etc. I was told to simply add 10-30 minutes of Caruso's studies to what I was doing.

Also, between long setting exercises Carmine would have me breath attack a low F# at a ppp dynamic and hold it as long as I could (I shoot for 30 seconds or so). Repeat this until your chops start to feel good again and then proceed with the next exercise.

Finally, people get in trouble if they think that the goal of Carmine's exercises is to STRENGTHEN the muscles. This is the most widely held misconception I run into. The goal is to BALANCE the muscles and coordinate or SYNCHRONIZE their activity by focusing on timing.

The main purpose of the nose breathing/long setting approach is to avoid the temptation of resetting or "fixing" your setting in the middle of a study. You have to learn to play all registers and all dynamics from one basic setting.

Caruso's method isn't for strength. It is for synchronization and balance. A more efficiently positioned and appropriately strong embouchure develops virtually unbidden as this timing and balance is achieved.

"Don't forget to listen to your foot!"
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PH
Bill Adam/Carmine Caruso Forum Moderator


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Carmine also told me never to do his studies when my chops were tired, swollen, or cut. He also suggested that for some people it isn't a good idea to do them on the day of a gig.
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Quadruple C
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[ This Message was edited by: Quadruple C on 2003-09-21 16:23 ]
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_bugleboy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quad C,

Carmine liked the 20/20 schedule when I was studying with him. Practice for 20 minutes ...... rest 20 minutes. And if the chops are tired or injured, give them a rest. He used to say that you can't teach tired muscles anything.

Regards,

Charles Raymond
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tdromba
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Joined: 16 Nov 2001
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies. I probably do tend to overdo things at times.

Tell me about the 'Magic Notes,' what is meant by that?
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_bugleboy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2001 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never heard Carmine refer to "magic notes."
If you overdo the practicing and don't give the muscles enough time to rest, it can cause you to start manipulating to get the notes. This is not the learning direction you want your embouchure to go.

[ This Message was edited by: bugleboy on 2001-12-04 23:19 ]
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PH
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2001 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have heard some of Carmine's older students (1960s vintage) call the Six Notes study the Six "Magic" Notes. I never heard Carmine call the exercise by that name. Ain't no magic, just common sense!
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Quadruple C
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2001 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[ This Message was edited by: Quadruple C on 2003-09-21 16:23 ]
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Cozy
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2002 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PH,
Thanks for your reminder that Caruso exercises are meant to Balance, not merely to Strengthen. (Typing here, resting chops while watching my fave TV channel, BET Jazz.)
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