Know your limitations

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Know your limitations

By Michael Barkley:

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)

One Response to “Know your limitations”

  1. Ha! Well said, Mike. Most of us wouldn’t dream of doing strenuous activity (like a 10K run) without proper conditioning, but give us a trumpet and chart with a high F at the end, and we’re willing to give it a go! We have to keep asking ourselves, “which is more ignominious – taking the last note down an octave or falling on our horn in front of an audience?”

    The Bach is magnificent!

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