Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: When Days are Bad

  1. #1

    When Days are Bad

    I think most of us will have days where our chops just wouldn't work for whatever reason, we fumble with our tonguing, our air keeps getting cut off, our high notes just won't come out right. We just don't feel like we're in good form nor in the mood to practice at all.

    On those days, what would you do during practice? Be it a mental shift, self-talk, or even specific exercises or practices you will do?

    Been having those days a little frequent lately and it just feels demotivating. When those days hit me, I've been taking it a little easy, just play some easy tunes and make music for the fun of it. Ideally, I'd love to not have to deal with those days at all, but yeah.

    I am curious how many of you more experienced players handle days like these.

  2. Hi,

    First of all... accept that you'll have those days. Don't try to force anything.
    Love this quote:
    "Some days you get up and you put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die, and the horn wins."

    On those days I try to do some basics (especially long tones) and some lip flex.
    What helps me more is to take notice of the days that "everyting" seems to work and/or come naturally. Try to find out why on those days it all seems easier and try to re-create these surcomstances the next time.

    Some final advise (given to me a while back):
    Never over-complicate things. Accept "bad" days and always enjoy yourself when playing. Love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the euponium)
    Last edited by DutchEupho; 04-08-2019 at 12:54 AM.
    Euphonium: Adams E3 Custom Series (SS Bell)
    Trombone: Benge 175F


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,047
    Is it possible for you to suspend practicing for several days -- or a week? Like a vacation? I find that when I do this (generally a matter of scheduling rather than practice strategy or addressing a problem), I feel surprisingly good when I start playing again, and things tend to work quite well. I what you're doing starts to feel like a grind -- and if you aren't a professional who has to practice so much -- try just taking a break.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  4. #4
    I have those days now and then, and for the most part I can't "beat them." But I try to make the best of them. Good slow, careful warmup. Long tones. If my chops are stiff, I focus on finger exercises and/or tonguing.

    In 1977 I had a very bad experience trying to record Carnival of Venice withe CG Band. We had just finished a year of concerts celebrating our Bicentennial, and I played Carnival on all of them. I knew this solo! But that morning my chops and tongue just didn't work well. I finally figured out that I had had orange juice for breakfast and then brushed my teeth as usual. The combination of acidic juice and toothpaste took away the normal "slippery" feeling inside my mouth. Now, when I'm playing in the morning, I brush my teeth with just water on the toothbrush.

    Harold Brasch recommended keeping a very regular schedule. Keep close to the same bedtime and wake-up time, eat a good diet, and get some exercise. Avoid spicy food around the time you are playing. I think that's good advice.

    Sort-of related:
    I've also been trying to make my last couple practice sessions before a gig to be around the same time as the gig. I figure my body rhythms are similar then.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by DutchEupho View Post
    Hi,

    First of all... accept that you'll have those days. Don't try to force anything.
    Love this quote:
    "Some days you get up and you put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die, and the horn wins."

    On those days I try to do some basics (especially long tones) and some lip flex.
    What helps me more is to take notice of the days that "everyting" seems to work and/or come naturally. Try to find out why on those days it all seems easier and try to re-create these surcomstances the next time.

    Some final advise (given to me a while back):
    Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Ands Alway enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the euponium)
    Those are some great advice on mindset! I love the quote and the final advice a lot! Was reminded of how many here mentioned this phrase "euphonium sounds like a singing voice", when i read your advice, which was why we started playing indeed! Thank you for that.




    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    Is it possible for you to suspend practicing for several days -- or a week? Like a vacation? I find that when I do this (generally a matter of scheduling rather than practice strategy or addressing a problem), I feel surprisingly good when I start playing again, and things tend to work quite well. I what you're doing starts to feel like a grind -- and if you aren't a professional who has to practice so much -- try just taking a break.
    That's interesting, I was just thinking about that. There were a few long weekends where i didn't get to play, and when I got back to playing, it felt like I've gotten "better"? Or I just sounded good for whatever reason. Always wondered why it was that. I'd sound great after a 3-days weekend of not playing, then as the week goes by, it feels like I would deteriorate.

    Maybe it has to do with "resetting" or "re-centering" ourselves when we stop for a few days, and when I start playing again, some bad habits probably creep back in and get worse as the days go by until I stopped playing for a few days ago? Interesting.


    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    I have those days now and then, and for the most part I can't "beat them." But I try to make the best of them. Good slow, careful warmup. Long tones. If my chops are stiff, I focus on finger exercises and/or tonguing.

    In 1977 I had a very bad experience trying to record Carnival of Venice withe CG Band. We had just finished a year of concerts celebrating our Bicentennial, and I played Carnival on all of them. I knew this solo! But that morning my chops and tongue just didn't work well. I finally figured out that I had had orange juice for breakfast and then brushed my teeth as usual. The combination of acidic juice and toothpaste took away the normal "slippery" feeling inside my mouth. Now, when I'm playing in the morning, I brush my teeth with just water on the toothbrush.

    Harold Brasch recommended keeping a very regular schedule. Keep close to the same bedtime and wake-up time, eat a good diet, and get some exercise. Avoid spicy food around the time you are playing. I think that's good advice.

    Sort-of related:
    I've also been trying to make my last couple practice sessions before a gig to be around the same time as the gig. I figure my body rhythms are similar then.
    Thanks for the tips, sir! I've been trying to keep a regular schedule too, and I recently kicked the habit of drinking coffee an hour before practice in the morning.

    It's great to see what others do on those days, long tomes, warm ups and finger flexibility exercises. Will try to incorporate them in more and see how things go!


    Today was a surprisingly good day.

  6. I try to practice my horn outside of rehearsal for 2-3 hours each day for almost everyday out of the week. Usually I don't practice on either Saturday or Sunday, but when I get practicing after my day off, I often feel much more powerful on the horn. I think this is because I'm giving my chops an entire 24+ hours to rebuild and regenerate. It's just like a regular exercise/workout routine
    T.J. Davis

    Wessex Dolce
    G&W Kadja

  7. #7
    Many problems stem from poor breathing. On a bad day, you may be tense and not breathing well. So take a moment to get grounded and in touch with how you're feeling in general, then try some mindful beating exercises. - Carroll

  8. #8
    @daviste that makes sense. Good point

    @carbogast Thanks for that tip! Will keep that in mind!

  9. #9
    After you give your warm up a chance to kick in, take a break, try again, maybe repeat, maybe time to get the horn off your face.

    Here's a checklist for horn of the face time.
    1. Listen. Favorite recordings, something on YouTuba. Times 10. I have spent time with a pal and we had a "virtual concert" where we put on a recording, turned down the lights a bit, and sat and listened with the score, silently. And let the CD play through without a break or talking. It was very good practice for focused listening. Good for band music, orchestra with tenor tuba, or just any thing we wanted to listen to regardless of instrument or style.

    2. Transcribe. Common to jazz players, including jazz euphonium and tuba players. Listen to some excerpt and write it out yourself on staff paper. Rewind, listen, listen again. Put it on half speed if necessary. This really helps tune your ear and listen for intervals and figures.

    3. Exercise and stretching. Not just the face. I remember Joe Alessi at a talk years ago. He said when he was auditioning, through getting his NY Phil job, he was running 5 miles a day. Whether you're into yoga or weights or whatever, players on the rise would benefit from having good health and condition to build and extend endurance. Players who are actively performing and maintaining need to remain healthy and keep their endurance, and ward off bad physical habits like bad posture. Players who play just occasionally like some of my pals who are late in retirement need to be able to get the horn out of the car and drag to rehearsal without messing up their back. I help out a community bad with a 93 y/o tuba player playing his Conn 20k sousa. He takes two trips to the car but works to stay in shape so he can keep playing. He loves the deep breathing aspect of playing and the camaraderie, but also has to get in his walk and stretches to keep in the game.

    4. Playing piano, etc. Play a single line from a solo or play a few chords from the accompaniment part and sing or think through the solo line. In general, I have found it very beneficial to play an instrument that does not involve my face. I play electric bass. Really adds to my musical life and opportunities.

    5. Go to a museum or dance performance. Or tour a craftspersons studio. I get inspired by performers in other kinds of art and craft.

    6. Read. Great biographies about musicians, conductors, composers, patrons, history of the horn, styles, etc., and books on any walk of life like fiction, physics, whatever. Learning the story behind the instruments or performers really adds to my understanding.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •