Aperture Collapse

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TromboneConcerto
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Aperture Collapse

Post by TromboneConcerto » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:59 am

Hello all,

I have been fighting with my endurance since I started playing trombone, and I was wondering if anyone has had the same issue as I.

It seems that when I hit my 'limit', my aperture collapses, and/or my lips can no longer hold and close nearly completely, to the point where I cannot play. High and long playing make me reach my limit much faster, and my high and loud playing are the first to go when I hit this limit. Naturally, the time on the horn I've had that day without a significant break (4+ hours) also impacts how quickly I hit my limit, but not nearly as much as you'd think. Alto trombone is also a major issue, because it involves a lot of long high playing without breaks.

All I need to do to remedy this is take the horn off my face for about 10 seconds, then I am reset and perfectly good to continue.

Problem is, when I am playing anywhere outside of a practice room and hit my limit, I can't just take 10 seconds off the horn, outside of some moments in ensemble playing. This makes getting through an entire concerto basically impossible without hitting my limit.

For example, performing the Grondahl I hit my limit near the end of the 2nd movement, but can reset between the 2nd and 3rd mvmts and finish the piece okay, except for hitting my limit again at the very last section with the high C's.

If I try to play through the 'collapse' it gets much worse very quickly, like my lips are choked out and completely out of gas. Again, 10 seconds of break and it goes away, until the next bout of high and long playing.

I'm hoping some of you will have had this same issue and are willing to share some ideas on how you worked through it. I'm preparing for grad school auditions and I'm tired of this 'limit' getting in my way, it is the achilles heel of my technical playing.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
GMB
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by GMB » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:32 am

TromboneConcerto wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:59 am
All I need to do to remedy this is take the horn off my face for about 10 seconds, then I am reset and perfectly good to continue.
This sounds very familiar to my own experience during my first two years of studying. What I'm about to say is far from any profound wisdom and I'm not a teacher, but I'll tell you my own experience and you or somebody else might be able to draw something from it or explain it better.

In short, I made tremendous progress in my third year when I made a conscious effort to play as efficiently as possible (I know, sounds like "make it look easier and it'll be easier" b.s.). What I mean by this is while practicing daily drills and doing some embouchure experimentation figuring out precisely which parts need to be relaxed, fixed and something in-between, I came across a way of blowing/playing that seemingly produced a significantly larger volume of sound while using less air. I later came across a video of James Markey that I think touches on the same subject. On a related note, I'd realized I often had a tendency to chip notes by hitting the partial above the one intended, and saying that trying to avoid that helped endurance-wise is pretty self-explanatory.
timothy42b
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by timothy42b » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:51 am

TromboneConcerto wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:59 am

All I need to do to remedy this is take the horn off my face for about 10 seconds, then I am reset and perfectly good to continue.
I get a similar symptom when my mouthpiece slips lower than its optimum setting, which can happen easily especially with loud playing that dips into low or middle range.

I can reset and recover. It may be your reset and have nothing to do with the rest period. If that is the case then the answer is to be aware of and avoid the slippage.

Do you know which embouchure type you are?
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TromboneConcerto
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by TromboneConcerto » Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:18 am

GMB wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:32 am
TromboneConcerto wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:59 am
All I need to do to remedy this is take the horn off my face for about 10 seconds, then I am reset and perfectly good to continue.
This sounds very familiar to my own experience during my first two years of studying. What I'm about to say is far from any profound wisdom and I'm not a teacher, but I'll tell you my own experience and you or somebody else might be able to draw something from it or explain it better.

In short, I made tremendous progress in my third year when I made a conscious effort to play as efficiently as possible (I know, sounds like "make it look easier and it'll be easier" b.s.). What I mean by this is while practicing daily drills and doing some embouchure experimentation figuring out precisely which parts need to be relaxed, fixed and something in-between, I came across a way of blowing/playing that seemingly produced a significantly larger volume of sound while using less air. I later came across a video of James Markey that I think touches on the same subject. On a related note, I'd realized I often had a tendency to chip notes by hitting the partial above the one intended, and saying that trying to avoid that helped endurance-wise is pretty self-explanatory.
That's a really interesting video.. I've never thought of my aperture/airstream being not completely circular.. Buzzing on a mouthpiece makes me believe it's how I'm playing high register at the moment. I'll give that a shot this evening.
timothy42b wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:51 am
TromboneConcerto wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:59 am

All I need to do to remedy this is take the horn off my face for about 10 seconds, then I am reset and perfectly good to continue.
I get a similar symptom when my mouthpiece slips lower than its optimum setting, which can happen easily especially with loud playing that dips into low or middle range.

I can reset and recover. It may be your reset and have nothing to do with the rest period. If that is the case then the answer is to be aware of and avoid the slippage.

Do you know which embouchure type you are?
I'm not sure if it slips, but I'll try and be aware of it next time I play, and see if I can "reset" faster.

I'm a quite high placement embouchure type, I'd say about 80% upper lip.

Thanks for your replies, both of you!
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by AndrewMeronek » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:14 am

It's fairly common for people to assume the same horn angle they in one register is ideal for all registers, which is never literally the case. But, when it comes to high range, if you don't play with the most efficient horn angle for that range, your endurance and tone will suffer. For high-placement types that I've seen, the normal pattern is to raise the horn angle *very* slightly as the notes get higher, and vice versa for going lower - AND some amount of angle left or right too, which varies for every person. In general, most people want a gradual angle change of the same type throughout their range. Thus, if they angle their horn up and to the right to ascend in pitch, they angle down and to the left to descend all the way to the bottom of their range. No 'snake-y' patterns.

Of course, the most important thing in this regard is to not lose 'grip' with the mouthpiece on the lips. Figuring out one's horn angle patterns is kind of a 'next step'.

IMHO the common idea that perfectly static embouchure or horn angle is ideal is demonstrably false. While there are great brass players out there who have very little embouchure and horn angle motion, there are others who have noticeable motion who yet sound completely fantastic.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
Vegasbound
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by Vegasbound » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:21 am

IMHO contact Doug Elliott, have a Skype lesson or two with him, it could be one of several reasons including a mouthpiece not the most efficient size, or a host of other things
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TromboneConcerto
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by TromboneConcerto » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:20 pm

AndrewMeronek wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:14 am
It's fairly common for people to assume the same horn angle they in one register is ideal for all registers, which is never literally the case. But, when it comes to high range, if you don't play with the most efficient horn angle for that range, your endurance and tone will suffer. For high-placement types that I've seen, the normal pattern is to raise the horn angle *very* slightly as the notes get higher, and vice versa for going lower - AND some amount of angle left or right too, which varies for every person. In general, most people want a gradual angle change of the same type throughout their range. Thus, if they angle their horn up and to the right to ascend in pitch, they angle down and to the left to descend all the way to the bottom of their range. No 'snake-y' patterns.

Of course, the most important thing in this regard is to not lose 'grip' with the mouthpiece on the lips. Figuring out one's horn angle patterns is kind of a 'next step'.

IMHO the common idea that perfectly static embouchure or horn angle is ideal is demonstrably false. While there are great brass players out there who have very little embouchure and horn angle motion, there are others who have noticeable motion who yet sound completely fantastic.
Perhaps I'm just directionally challenged... But when I play high, I tend to (and always was taught) to angle the horn downwards.. That is so the end of the slide is pointing closer to the floor. And vice-versa for low. Just trying now doing it the other way feels very unnatural.
imsevimse
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by imsevimse » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:59 pm

Experiment a lot. That is the best general advice I can give anyone who has any problem to solve.

For me, I have settled on a medium high placement emboushure and I do push up to ascend and often angle to the right on the lower notes when descending on the valve and in to the pedal register

For me, I have experimented and tried to play upstream and push down to ascend and up to descend just to see what happens. It is not comfortable but It works too. The feeling is not the same of course, but I do think I could learn to play like that too. I just tried this to see if the concept could be reversed and it could.

When I started I learned to play upstream, with smile emboushure and air pockets in cheeks. I have an old recording where I was thirteen and played "Oh, when the saints" at a concert with accompaniment. At that recording I had that upstream smile emboushure. I was on the melody and had a real big and fat sound playing like that. A few years later I did a complete change of emboushure. I started all over. Today I can not play with a smile emboushure as I once did. It is impossible.

With a healthy emboushure the feeling of playing a high C should not be very hard work. The emboushure must be efficient and to work efficiently it needs air, but the right amount of air and blown in the most efficient direction. The balance air, lips and resonance must be fine tuned for every note. Eventually you can turn on the autopilot, this is when it can be described as easy and notes just pop out with minimum effort.

Where I am today is about an octave above my highest notes when I left the Royal Academy of Music in the year 1988. Back then I struggled with those high Bb's and C's too. Now I still struggle, but with notes an octave higher.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
My webbpage: https://sites.google.com/site/brazzmusic
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by AndrewMeronek » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:46 pm

TromboneConcerto wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:20 pm
Perhaps I'm just directionally challenged... But when I play high, I tend to (and always was taught) to angle the horn downwards.. That is so the end of the slide is pointing closer to the floor. And vice-versa for low. Just trying now doing it the other way feels very unnatural.
No problem. Exceptions always exist. :cool:

I guess the end-point of my little essay above is to take the time to understand what you're doing, and to (maybe) provide a slightly different lens for introspection.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
timothy42b
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by timothy42b » Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:39 am

TromboneConcerto wrote:
Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:20 pm
Perhaps I'm just directionally challenged... But when I play high, I tend to (and always was taught) to angle the horn downwards.. That is so the end of the slide is pointing closer to the floor. And vice-versa for low. Just trying now doing it the other way feels very unnatural.
In that case, you probably aren't a high placement like me, but a medium placement, or potentially even a low placement.

Read Wilktone's page for the explanations, or do a Skype with Doug Elliott. Re, AND do a Skype with Doug.
Doug Elliott
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by Doug Elliott » Fri Nov 01, 2019 11:41 am

Lots of people "were taught" things that are wrong or less than ideal but worked at the time, and continue doing them right through the collapse of it.
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TromboneConcerto
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Re: Aperture Collapse

Post by TromboneConcerto » Sat Nov 02, 2019 3:08 am

Thanks all for the replies so far, I've been experimenting a lot more and have found out a few interesting things. I will continue to experiment for another few weeks and then Doug, you may have an email from me coming.

Thanks again all and if anyone else has any experience with the same kind of thing, please drop a note!
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