Know your limitations

Playing a brass instrument requires an air pressure to be generated, and when we tense up and over-blow it is inevitable that we invite the valsalva manoeuvre in which we essentially create such a high internal air pressure that we collapse.

It has happened to me, and it has happened to many others, and hopefully you don’t need to experience the same wake-up call (and repair bill) that myself and others have!

I have compiled a small collection of video clips of players who are clearly doing it wrong, and from these you can easily see how little it would matter to the performance if the “final note ending” was bailed on, or shortened. It really wouldn’t matter, but I understand how it can be the only thing in the player’s mind and sadly the floor claims a victim.

(3mins in)

Hopefully you can see that stress, over-blowing and a general mis-use of the brain will cause bad things to happen. To finish this post positively, here is an incredibly impressive performance. No amount of “arm-strong method” or BLH (blow like hell) will ever make this piece work.

Brandenburg 2 mvt. 1 (with Friedemann Immer as the Trumpet soloist)

About Michael Barkley

Trumpet player/tutor, luthier, jazz enthusiast, coffee addict.
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