Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

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Mitchwolberg5
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Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Mitchwolberg5 »

I'm an amateur player who doesn't practice as much as I should. I've noticed that after taking a week off the first 15 minutes of playing are very clean. All the notes play crisply with good tone and without much effort, even the high ones. After the initial 15 minutes I'll revert to my usual amount of errors and the next day I'll be back to my usual level. Any idea why that initial improvement?

Mitch
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Oslide
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Oslide »

The same happens to me (amateur, too) frequently after a holiday break - and I don't have a clue what's happening. I hope there will be some helpful explanations.
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Wilktone
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Wilktone »

Perhaps there's something in the way you're playing that is incorrect. Sometimes brass musicians can make an inefficient approach work for them, but it tends to catch up after a day or so. It could be a similar situation for you, but it's on a shorter time scale. Your first 15 minutes might be OK as you muscle your way through what you're playing, but then afterwards it catches up to you.

I'd have to watch you play to know if there's anything I can spot. If you can post video we can take a look and make a better educated guess.

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Mr412
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Mr412 »

I expect you could possibly find the same kind of "Goldilocks" thing if you switched mouthpieces, especially if it's a kinda large size/shape difference.
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VJOFan
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by VJOFan »

Try pretending every day is your first day back. What was your mental approach to playing that first fifteen minutes?

Personally, I am hyper focused on getting things right that first few minutes. If I let up on the concentration then playing will sag in various ways.

See if you can recreate the way you were thinking when you started back at it.
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robcat2075
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by robcat2075 »

Some ____________ is setting in after that initial period and your recovery time is more than one day.

We could fill that blank with many things... allergic reaction, fatigue, brain cloud... ?

-If you are having some physical reaction to the horn your mouth and airway may not be responding to all the efforts you need to do to play well.

-If you don't play much it would be unsurprising that the muscles of your mouth and airway are fatiguing and likewise not quite doing what is needed.

-If your attention span is faltering you may no longer be being careful about everything you need to do.

These are all just guesses premised upon your brief description which might not capture all that could be known.
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Mitchwolberg5
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Mitchwolberg5 »

I didn't think to video that first 15 minutes, as a matter of fact I was expecting to be rusty. The thing is that those first 15 minutes are so effortless unlike the rest of my playing. After my next concert I plan on taking some lessons to work on my embouchure, I definitely am working to hard for the results I'm getting.

Mitch
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Doug Elliott »

I have an idea for a little research project you can do on yourself. If the first 15 minutes are effortless, play for 14 minutes and stop. Don't get past that effortless period. Now take an hour off and come back and do the same 14 minutes.

This will not actually teach you what your correct form is, but if what you're doing in that first 15 minutes is actually correct for you, it will probably make you stay in it for 100% of the time you play.

There are physical reasons for what you've been experiencing. Muscles give out, muscles swell, and you can't hold the position that you started with so you start doing things wrong to compensate. Then if you spend the majority of your practice time that way, you're reinforcing wrong things.

I'm suggesting a way to spend the majority of your practice time playing correctly. That's assuming that first 15 minutes is correct, and it may very well be. When I teach someone for the first time I ask them to not warm up or play before the lesson. That's because it's easier to diagnose what is correct at the very beginning.

This is pretty much exactly the opposite of the way most people think about it, that you "need" to warm up to play correctly.
Crazy4Tbone86
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Crazy4Tbone86 »

Actually…..didn’t Christian Lindbergh stick to a 21-minute practice regimen? I believe it was because he found research that concluded the human mind tends to get diminishing results after 21 minutes.
Brian D. Hinkley - Player, Teacher, Technician and Trombone Enthusiast
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VJOFan
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by VJOFan »

Crazy4Tbone86 wrote: Sat Dec 03, 2022 8:05 am Actually…..didn’t Christian Lindbergh stick to a 21-minute practice regimen? I believe it was because he found research that concluded the human mind tends to get diminishing results after 21 minutes.
But with the human brain being so very trainable and plastic I would think that is an average baseline and not a definitive concentration value for everyone all the time.

For example, I teach English to newcomers in Canada. When we start reading, many of them can't stick with it for even 5 minutes. By the end of the term, I have to pull the books out of their hands to move on to something else. That is a big change in ability to concentrate on a task.

It would also be good to ask, in a 20, 30, 40 or 60 minute practice session, how much of that is continuous concentration?

I think about professional tennis players in a 3+ hour match. They don't focus for three hours continuously, but the successful ones manage to be focused on each point of the match.

If a musician has only one practice window a day, they may not be able to afford the time to go hard for 21 minutes then break for however long the research would say it takes to recharge before continuing. But they could certainly break tasks into much smaller bits and take enough mini breaks to keep from tapping out the brain's ability to focus.

That may not give the optimal results that three or four spread out practice bursts could, but it is closer to optimal than just not getting in much practice.
Crazy4Tbone86
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Re: Temporary Improvement After a Layoff

Post by Crazy4Tbone86 »

VJOFan wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 9:18 am
Crazy4Tbone86 wrote: Sat Dec 03, 2022 8:05 am Actually…..didn’t Christian Lindbergh stick to a 21-minute practice regimen? I believe it was because he found research that concluded the human mind tends to get diminishing results after 21 minutes.
But with the human brain being so very trainable and plastic I would think that is an average baseline and not a definitive concentration value for everyone all the time.

For example, I teach English to newcomers in Canada. When we start reading, many of them can't stick with it for even 5 minutes. By the end of the term, I have to pull the books out of their hands to move on to something else. That is a big change in ability to concentrate on a task.

It would also be good to ask, in a 20, 30, 40 or 60 minute practice session, how much of that is continuous concentration?

I think about professional tennis players in a 3+ hour match. They don't focus for three hours continuously, but the successful ones manage to be focused on each point of the match.

If a musician has only one practice window a day, they may not be able to afford the time to go hard for 21 minutes then break for however long the research would say it takes to recharge before continuing. But they could certainly break tasks into much smaller bits and take enough mini breaks to keep from tapping out the brain's ability to focus.

That may not give the optimal results that three or four spread out practice bursts could, but it is closer to optimal than just not getting in much practice.
Hey VJOfan,

Everything that you are saying makes sense to me. I was just pointing to the congruency of the OP’s concerns with one of the philosophies that is out there.

I teach band/orchestra and lessons to kids from age 8 to 68. One of the unique things that I frequently lecture about with musicians-in-training is “focus endurance.” Music is extremely demanding in this skill/area. For example: In order for a student to do well on a calculus exam, they will probably need to focus intensely on an equation for about two minutes and then they can relax. Then another two minutes of focus, then relax……etc….. Now let’s compare that to a 10-minute-long high velocity piece of music that has little or no rests in it. The “focus endurance”demand placed on that musician can be much higher than on the person taking the calculus exam. Of course, there are many other variables involved, but I’m sure everyone gets the idea.

Back the concern of the OP. All of these ideas are based on the mental approach. I don’t necessarily think that this is a mental problem. Could it be that the OP needs to build up chop endurance because the face muscles just can’t last beyond 15 minutes? I have had many students that sounded glorious for 15 minutes and then everything stops working…….they just needed to work on endurance by practicing long tones, lip slurs, tonguing exercises, scales , etc…. If a trombone player does not have an effective practice routine, the instrument can be rather unforgiving.
Brian D. Hinkley - Player, Teacher, Technician and Trombone Enthusiast
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