Morning Chops

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Morning Chops

Post by basstrombone426 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:11 pm

Hi everyone! I was always wondering if anyone else had this problem. I find that whenever I wake up and have to play at rehearsal in an hour's time, my chops feel very weak and don't want to let any notes really make a clear sound, especially in the pedal range. I've tried buzzing some warm-ups on my mouthpiece in the car while I drive over, but I still feel my chops aren't ready to play until much later in the day. Any tips?
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by robcat2075 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:18 pm

I once considered building a "sound proof" room in my house so I could practice at the late hours of the night when my lips finally felt ready to play. If I even take a nap in the middle of the day my lips feel hopeless right after.

I have no solutions, however, other than waking up earlier.
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by greenbean » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:48 pm

Solution: Practice in the morning.

Yup - I used to have this problem. My chops were nonexistent in the morning. I could only play starting by early afternoon and didn't have good, strong chops until the evening. It was this way for years, until I started practicing in the mornings (out of necessity). I now have Chops of Steel starting at sunrise!
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by Kbiggs » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:04 pm

Like greenbean said: Learning to play in the morning is a skill and has to be practiced.

A few other things to consider: Are you playing heavily late at night? If so, have you attempted a warm-down? Getting enough rest between practice sessions? Are you drinking enough water? Getting enough sleep?
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by BurckhardtS » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:01 pm

I used to need almost an entire hour or even longer to feel comfortable to play even functionally in a rehearsal setting. I started working on my chops and got a lot more efficient and smart with how I play, and after a long while of developing, I honestly don't need to 'warm up' before a rehearsal anymore. I do it as much as I can because I'm mostly just trying to get my 'efficient correct chops' to be just how I play the horn habitually.
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by 2bobone » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:07 pm

I humbly suggest that everyone, upon awakening, has a period during which they maneuver the accumulated phlegm and other body secretions out of their systems that the inactivity of sleeping introduces into our breathing passages. By using hot coffee, tea and assorted flushing fluids to clear away the detritus, we finally arrive at a comfortable compromise and begin the day. It is not your "chops" that are giving you trouble ----- it is your "air". Remember ---- "Air ---- is the fuel of sound" and everything will fall into place. Cheers !! Bob
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by Burgerbob » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:56 pm

Most people's bodies, especially non-morning people, are still basically in sleep mode an hour after you wake up. Circulation is very slow.

Take a walk. Stretch. Do something physical after you get up. Get the blood to your extremities.
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by Pre59 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:05 am

Burgerbob wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:56 pm

Take a walk. Stretch. Do something physical after you get up. Get the blood to your extremities.
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by timothy42b » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:33 am

Two ideas.

One, just suck it up. Your body doesn't want to play first thing, but sometimes you have to. Like brass players full employment day (Easter.) I started playing before work and hated it, but eventually my chops adjusted and now they don't rebel. It's just a matter of doing it enough to get used to it.

Two. There is a theory that we naturally sleep in 90 minute cycles, and that it's more important to get up at the end of a cycle than get X hours of sleep. Soccer teams in Europe have "sleep coaches." So if I'm going to get up at 0530, which is normal for me, I could go to bed at 9:30 PM and get 8 hours. But if I do that I will wake after 5 1/3 cycles, and I'll be sleepy and feeling dull. Whereas if I went to bed at 10:00 PM I'd wake after exactly 5 cycles, at the peak of my alertness. I dunno, soccer players put a lot of stock in it. In fact one of the coaches says if you get home after 10:00, don't go to bed at 10:30 and screw up your cycles. Stay up until 11:30 and wake after 4 cycles.
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by ngrinder » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:12 am

Morning chops suck. Here are a few things I do in the morning that seem to help:

Drink 20oz of water, almost immediately upon waking. This wakes me up almost as much as coffee, and water helps your body do all the things it needs to do to be a good body.

Breathing exercises. Everyone has stuff they like, but I have found that my issue is about 20% buzzing and 80% air not moving efficiently. I am doing variations on Weston Sprott's 21 Day routine.

Exercise. I don't do much (and it's starting to show!), but I do pushups and situps in the morning before or during breaks in my warmup.

Warm down the night before. I'm doing a show right now where the very last note in the entire show is a very loud and long high D. I usually leave the theater feeling tight and annoyed, but if I do warm down exercises on bass before I go to bed, I find the next day's first notes infinitely better compared to when I don't warm down.
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