Morning Chops

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basstrombone426
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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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robcat2075
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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.
>>Robert Holmén<<

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greenbean
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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!
Kbiggs
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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?
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
—Mark Twain (attributed)
BurckhardtS
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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.
2bobone
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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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Burgerbob
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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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Pre59
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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.
+1
timothy42b
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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.

https://www.sportsleepcoach.com/
ngrinder
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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.
Driswood
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by Driswood » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:26 am

greenbean wrote:
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!
A trumpet friend of mine gets up every morning and spends an hour in, as he calls it, the torture chamber. He soundproofed his garage, and plays there. He has chops of steel, and is ready to play for the rest of the day.
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rllantin
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by rllantin » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:07 am

Playing in the morning generally parallels other early morning activities in that my thought process and physical readiness don’t seem fully awake at least until late morning. I will say that I spent several months practicing at 7:00 AM a while back and I was able to adapt to this schedule in a few days. First few days required a thorough warm-up; there after playing felt “normal” as in what picking up the horn mid-afternoon felt like. …less warm-up required to play to capacity.
timothy42b
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by timothy42b » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:24 pm

Read "When" by Dan Pink.
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ExZacLee
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Re: Morning Chops

Post by ExZacLee » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:29 pm

Read Nick's post... good stuff there (a lot of good stuff on this thread)

We used to do a morning game show on the morning after our day off in a cruise ship band I was in about 20 years ago. It was difficult to get used to, especially considering the hangover the whole band seemed to be suffering from. More recently, I've had a couple TV tapings that started around 9AM, and a few studio things that started early but I've found out what works for me now so I'm a little better at mornings. I'm still not as comfortable as I am with an 8 or 11PM downbeat, but I'm much better at mornings than I used to be.

Now-a-days I don't drink like I did when I was 20-ish, I also try not schedule late gig/morning gig back to back unless I just can't help it (my friends and students need work too! Share the love!)

Wake up with enough time to get in your normal morning stuff - workout, shower, breakfast, etc. and still give you plenty of time to warm up. Don't just wake up and drive to the gig. Don't go hard in the gym though... 20 pushups and a walk will usually suffice.

Breakfast with some protein definitely helps. Oatmeal with dates and a couple of hard boiled eggs is my go-to, bacon if I'm treating myself (not too often, the salt and nitrates do a number on me.)

Tea instead of coffee if you get the jitters from too much coffee. - the jitters can mess with your playing. I don't get jitters from coffee anymore but energy drinks will occasionally do that to me.

I'll usually take an ibuprofen, aspirin or other anti-inflammatory (OTC or natural) to deal with swelling before it happens. I've found that to be the issue I have to deal with most. Some people it's a mental thing in the mornings, with me it's physical. Regardless, I think the key is preparation - being aware of the problem and formulating a set of strategies to deal with the issue is key. I'm sure it's a problem many have had to deal with, and not just with music or brass playing. I got some of my ideas from reading about how athletes prepare for early games versus late games. Our prep isn't as extreme, but there's much we can learn from them.
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