WindWorks Trumpet Academy Forums WindWorks Psyche-mentality and trumpet failures

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    • #43652
      SvV
      Participant

      I perhaps know another possible reason for my failure in trumpet playing ability. You can still easily find my recent thread titled ‘A Big Question on actual physical limitations’. Let’s leave that aside for a moment.

      Scenario: I had quite a stressful last weekend in terms of psychological impact on my nervous system. I had a couple of quarrels and a couple of things that I couldn’t make work right and as a result got some metal stress.
      PLEASE NOTICE and it’s extremely important in this context:
      Various people will have different consequences of such impacts. Some will “relax” very quickly, within hours, others will experience the consequences of such a stress over next couple weeks in the same conditions in the same circumstances.
      If you are a “mentally strong” person, you’ll never understand other people with inherently “weak mental” system. Actually “psychical system”. There are subtle differences in what we mean here.

      NOTE also: What I describe here has nothing to do with the will power of a person. For instance you can see that I’ve experienced trumpet failures for over 10 years but I was very strong in my persistence and you can tell I’m a “strong person” in terms of not giving up whatever the circumstances were.
      Can you now see the difference between “weak psyche” and a “weak personality”?

      Back to the subject…
      The result of my last psychical stress: Today, on Monday my trumpet playing abilities “shrank” to absolutely miserable state.
      With all my Big Concert Hall Breaths, Open Feel, etc.etc. – I can hardly play up to E in the staff! The tone is muffled, my lips feel like cotton flaps.

      Now, what I describe is a typical problem for my psyche as I remember myself since my childhood. I’ve always been psychologically very vulnerable person, compared to many-many people who I’ve known throughout my life and I’m close to 50 now.

      Can YOU possibly relate YOUR trumpet playing failures to the way you ARE? I CAN!
      For instance, such a “poor trumpet playing” condition I described above can last for me for as long as two weeks!!! Over this period my trumpet won’t normally speak and I feel no power in my embouchure. Everything literally falls apart.
      I don’t take any medication!

      What I mean and I’ve noticed this throughout my trumpet playing experience over 10 years. I often have these “low down” mental states that result from unexpected stresses. These mental conditions can last for a week or two. They normally don’t affect anything but trumpet playing!
      Yes, I also play piano and guitar and these mental conditions don’t affect those instruments to any noticeable degree.
      The trumpet… I can’t explain it to you how it feels these two weeks – Imagine that you’ve just picked up your trumpet for the first time in your life. Yes – that’s that bad.
      I really can’t do anything with my playing these days. No amount of soft warm-ups or otherwise open Big breaths help.

      Important: I often don’t really feel anything in my mood in respect to this condition. It’s the result that I objectively perceive.

      I have a feeling that a successful trumpet player must have a strong consistent stable psyche. Would you agree with me?
      Once again, it’s not the person’s will power, it’s something inherited in genes in respect to the person’s psychological reactions to a set of negative circumstances. It cannot be controlled or you may think you can control it but the actual state of your psyche will show you that you can’t.

      Am I clear enough? It’s somewhat difficult to put it in words in English for a non-native speaker but I think you can get what I mean.

      If you’ve never experienced what I describe you’ll have hard time to understand what I ultimately mean. You may even actually think that what I describe is non-essential or otherwise it cab be easily dealt with.
      Believe me – it’s all real FOR ME.

      Hi! The effort you have gone to to write this post shows your passion and desire for better results.

      Learning to play an instrument can create anxiety for many and if you are anxious by nature then the difficulties can be magnified and multiplied. I do not, however, attribute ones ability to succeed on the instrument to their genetic makeup.

      What is unfortunate here is that you are mentally defeated from what I see in later replies further down this thread. Your expectations are clouding your reality.

      A deep breath is not going to fix everything but it part of the relearning PROCESS. Most people feel like beginners again when integrating these approaches and that is to be celebrated. The only way to make change is to do things differently!

      As I said when I spoke to you on Skype, there a fundamental issues with your foundation that need to be addressed. This can be very challenging and requires a step back from what you are currently doing that is inhibiting your current playing.

      If you are anxious in general and impatient for better results, you are going to end up writing epic threads on forums to try and get help.

      The simple truth is, making change is difficult and you need to make changes. The good new is that it is very possible. The Largo Stage has a heap of information here that you need to REALLY embrace, patiently. You have been PLAYING FOR 10 YEARS so while you might not make massive changes in a week or two, taking your time to work through and carefully embracing what is on offer will unlock your inefficiencies.

      I highly recommend sitting in a dark, silent place with your eyes closed and humming long tones and working on the 1% rule. There are 2 massive benefits to doing this:

      1. Humming activates the vagus nerve and the vibration can help relieve or actually completely eliminate the sensation of anxiety.
      2. Playing is no harder than humming/talking/singing and reinforcing this is idea by using the voice trains the subconscious to “back off” when attempting to play.

      Your playing is very forced from the Low C and you recognised how much tension was creeping into your playing in the middle register. This MUST be unlocked.

      I am really sorry to hear about the emotional challenges you have to deal with. If you can possibly find a way to separate them from your music and use playing as a therapy rather than a burden, you will get much greater satisfaction.

      Play music for the love of music with the ability you own now and let the reprogramming you are doing seep into your playing over time. Stop trying to FORCE massive changes on a dysfunctional setup. Sounds a little harsh but is the painful truth.

      I wish you all the best.
      Greg

    • #43653
      SvV
      Participant

      There are mistakes that I can’t edit any longer due to this forum engine set-up:
      – “…work right and as a result got some meNtal stress.”
      – “…or otherwise it caN be easily dealt with.”
      (b’s and n’s are next to each other on the keyboard, sorry). Possibly something else…

    • #43674
      johnelwood
      Participant

      Our minds can be our greatest ally and our biggest impediment, for sure.

      If we have a great state of mind when playing, we can sometimes overcome physical limitations / problems (i.e. coming back after a hard day playing), and vice versa–we can halt our progress or go backwards by focusing on results only and manipulating to achieve those results.

      Some days, just aren’t good days…like yesterday, my chops were just weird. It happens. They can’t all be great days sequentially better than yesterday.

      Today, was amazingly good–it felt like my embouchure just fell into place as I ascended and backed off the air, and when I gave more air my sound was resonant.

      It felt like very little engagement was necessary, even up above High C to my max range, etc.

      I’m realizing more and more how relaxed I can play.

    • #43703
      SvV
      Participant

      >> Iโ€™m realizing more and more how relaxed I can play.

      Good for you John! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I actually realize more and more how I can’t improve with any possible method and probably destined to crawl for ever below the top of the staff. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • #43742
      johnelwood
      Participant

      I was there myself for many years, SvV.

      Greg explains it better than anyone I’ve ever seen.

      What helped me the most was focusing in on the fact that less air is required the higher we ascend and we have a tendency to over blow.

      I played a G below the staff, followed by a G on the staff with a breath attack. Both notes with passively released air. I paid close attention to how little difference in effort that octave was and imagined how the next octave, with even less air being required, would / should feel–how that G should feel. And I was willing to fail by focusing on the Process I wanted to experiment with–I wanted more to see how that Process would work, or wouldn’t (which is what I expected, frankly) than I wanted to hit the note. But the G did come out, and the A and soon thereafter the high C. Less air, softer not louder is what helped me get up there. When I do play loud up there, its more of an opening up of the aperture to let more air through faster than it is blowing harder, clamping tighter, etc.

      It hasn’t been a straight sequential line upward of improvement, I have wanted to literally throw my instrument away and destroy it for good since playing my first High C a couple years ago…but I’m glad I didn’t. It hasn’t been easy and I can’t yet do everything I want on the trumpet, but I can play things I never thought possible for me and I understand better how the instrument works.

      Greg is the best guide I have found, but he is only a guide–we have to own our own interpretation of how to play relaxed, efficiently, etc.

      Its not a matter of playing exercises, but honing in on the experiences you are having while playing the exercises–what works, what doesn’t, what feels /sounds better, is our throat closed off / strained, etc.

      My $.02 FWIW. Good luck–hope your “coffee moment” comes very soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • #43748
      Greg Spence
      Keymaster

      Hi! The effort you have gone to to write this post shows your passion and desire for better results.

      Learning to play an instrument can create anxiety for many and if you are anxious by nature then the difficulties can be magnified and multiplied. I do not, however, attribute ones ability to succeed on the instrument to their genetic makeup.

      What is unfortunate here is that you are mentally defeated.

      A deep breath is not going to fix everything but is part of the relearning PROCESS. Most people feel like beginners again when integrating these approaches and that is to be celebrated. The only way to make change is to do things differently!

      As I said when I spoke to you on Skype, there are fundamental issues with your foundation that need to be addressed. This can be very challenging and requires a step back from what you are currently doing that is inhibiting your current playing.

      If you are anxious in general and impatient for better results, you are going to end up writing epic threads on forums to try and get help.

      The simple truth is, making change is difficult and you need to make changes. The good new is that it is very possible. The Largo Stage has a heap of information here that you need to REALLY embrace, patiently. You have been PLAYING FOR 10 YEARS so while you might not make massive changes in a week or two, taking your time to work through and carefully embracing what is on offer will unlock your inefficiencies.

      I highly recommend sitting in a dark, silent place with your eyes closed and humming long tones and working on the 1% rule. There are 2 massive benefits to doing this:

      1. Humming activates the vagus nerve and the vibration can help relieve or actually completely eliminate the sensation of anxiety.
      2. Playing is no harder than humming/talking/singing and reinforcing this is idea by using the voice trains the subconscious to โ€œback offโ€ when attempting to play.

      Your playing is very forced from the Low C and you recognised how much tension was creeping into your playing in the middle register. This MUST be unlocked.

      I am really sorry to hear about the emotional challenges you have to deal with. If you can possibly find a way to separate them from your music and use playing as a therapy rather than a burden, you will get much greater satisfaction.

      Play music for the love of music with the ability you own now and let the reprogramming you are doing seep into your playing over time. Stop trying to FORCE massive changes on a dysfunctional setup. Sounds a little harsh but is the painful truth.

      I wish you all the best.
      Greg

    • #44318
      SvV
      Participant

      Thank you Greg for taking time to address that concern of mine as well.
      I must admit it’s quite difficult to take a step back while developing new mental approach to trumpet playing.
      Here most of us live in the apartment houses and while playing scales with some mistakes withing limited range can be a temporary shelter, playing long tones and singing Cs for months makes one look (sound) really silly. “What is he doing up/down there? Will he ever play music?”
      – “Hey! You’ve played for years and I see (hear) you have no progress!”
      – “Oh, you know – trumpet is such a difficult instrument! Blah-Blah-Blah…” ๐Ÿ™

    • #44323
      SvV
      Participant

      Sorry for my talking too much. Maybe I’m just letting off steam.

      Playing in the apartment house is a big part of the problem. I’m more often than not aware of my neighbors when preparing to play the next note.

      I’m actually lucky – my neighbors will at most give me a funny look.
      In this country it’s not uncommon to turn on a loud speaker system at full volume in response to someone’s practicing a musical instrument in the next apartment or start banging on the walls/floor/’central heating system pipes’.

    • #44339
      johnelwood
      Participant

      That’s funny, my wife has repeatedly told me that she wishes I played guitar (acoustic) again more…

      And she’s made less subtle hints, but she understands and is supportive.

      I’m in a single family house, so I’m lucky most of the time I can play freely. But I have to play early morning or late evening sometimes and use various mutes in those instances.

      I also realized that its important to spend a certain minimum amount of time playing music so that we get some fulfillment/enjoyment from our playing and to keep is honest and provide perspective to how we’re doing–What Can we do, What Can’t we do, etc.

      There are times I feel down or frustrated about my lack of progress, then I try playing a piece of music and nail a hard note or passage better than ever, or vice versa–I feel great about hitting some note during technical exercises but then cant seem to play it musically with articulation, dynamic control, etc.

      So much of our playing is mental. There are days (Yesterday!) I know I’m not in the right mindset from the beginning and its probably better to just call it a day early on, or not even play.

      Listening to music or watching videos of other players playing or talking about playing, or just taking a total break and doing something else, usually helps get my mind back into a good place for the next day.

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