I have been playing trumpet for over 10 years now (I’m 21) and have had trouble with range for as long as I can remember. When I was 16 I got a new teacher, we started working with Stamp exercises and he said that the root of the problems with my playing (poor range and endurance, sometimes sounding strained and forced) was my breathing or air control. Before this my teachers had only spoken about embochure. He told me to yawn etc to get a feeling for openess in the throat. I got very conscious of my playing and got anxious about not making any progress.
Since I discovered MTM I have learnt a great deal about trumpet, but I still suffer from many of my old problems.
When doing the Singing C series I am not even capable of doing the Adagio exercises properly, and I feel an increase in the choking sensation, due to the stopping of the air with the toungue. I am aware that I am doing the Valsalva Maneuver but I don’t know how to NOT do it.
In your video The Sound Equation you mention this concern with the Valsalva Maneuver, but not how to overcome it. How do I get through the WindWorks course without experiencing these problems? How do I stop the air with my toungue correctly, when this seems to be what’s causing the choking?
And finally, I recently read the Inner Game of Tennis. Have you read this book, in case you have, do you have any thoughts on it concerning trumpet/WindWorks?
Hey there Hugo, sorry for not seeing this earlier. It is a little difficult to say without seeing what you are doing however, a recognition of the problem is a great start.
So, if we get the magnifying glass out, where does it star?
When you do the Body’s Concert Hall Breath with the finger, in and out, is there any closure?
If not, mmmaaaahhhhoooohhhfffff with the tissues, is there any closure?
If not, with the visualiser rim or 2 fingers on the aperture corners, is there a back up or closure.
When you add the mouthpiece (no buzz) does the resistance of the cup create a build up.
When you add leadpipe, do things back up?
As far as the slingshot and/or aRRRRticulation goes, have you tried stopping the purely with the lips keeping the tongue out of the way? If you slowly close the lips to the point of complete closure simply using PASSIVE REDUCTION, can you keep the throat open?
It’s a really deep process finding the triggers. This needs to be explored away from the instrument #WindWorksSecret – see below.
I had a problem two years ago, lot of bad sensations in the throat while playing. It almost goes away, reappearing sometimes only when playing loud, fast or high. It’s like if the throat close for a split second, and the air force this closing to pass thought. But I had a lot of this during my warm-ups this morning. Could be it the infamous Valsalva maneuver ?
Also, I feel I have no direct control over this, it happens even when I sing a nice note in my head and try to keep everything open.
In an effort to control your air, you may be using the larynx and vocal cords. I used to do this also as a high school player (I am still at that level after putting the horn down many years ago). Back then, I would complain about my throat hurting and I would also tighten my neck muscles when playing high C.
When I recently picked the horn again, I planned to play better than my high school days. Since I didn’t practice much back then, I thought it just a matter of putting in the work. After purchasing method books, I was positive I would become the player I should have been. But then, I began to have a tight throat after playing just like 40 years ago. Playing trumpet would affect my voice making it gravelly sounding when talking. I would try clearing my throat which made it worse.
Then I found Mystery to Mastery and stopped all the Misery to Madness.
I would say you are manipulating airflow using your throat. Doing this closes off a free airflow and may totally close off your airway when trying to play those high notes. It is just like Greg demonstrated when he did “The Sound Equation” video. You are describing the Valsalva maneuver. This is dangerous and you need to stop it.
Saying to stop it does not make the habit go away. Go back to the beginning, the introduction. Follow the steps and repeat the process over and over. It is a matter retraining your brain.
Thanks for your answer ! I thought is was just a matter of hard work too, and like you it didn’t end well…
I have been working on the MTM everyday for two months now, went back to the beginning several times. Trumpet is mostly an internal work, its so easy to do it the wrong way, even with the course.