Sunday, July 8, 2012


It really is not possible to talk about endurance without going into building strength in general. Let's look at strength. 

Strength is having the power and energy to do what you want to do whether it is to move a table, lift something, or walk across the room. When people are really sick, they might not even have the strength to speak. So strength and energy are very connected. But the strength it takes to lift five hundred pounds over your head is different to the strength it takes to give an excellent moving speech. Both take energy, strength and focus. Now think about our music. Think of the control it takes to play soft and high. Now how about loud and low? What about very fast playing? The list goes on and on doesn't it?  Is having control the same as having strength?  Is focus a kind of strength? Where does energy come into play concerning focus, strength and control? 

The thought process above might help some people to understand how things work. It might help with teaching others. But you don't have to 'understand ' all of that mentally to have strength, energy, focus or control. But, the more you get into it, you may start to naturally feel and silently know these subtle relationships.

1.Repetition is key to building anything.
2.Regularity is vital to making 'good' your repetition.
3. Consistency is the 'glue' that holds together your regular repetition 

Vital Basics to Building Strength

  • play rest, play rest
  • Know the signals of your body and mind when they are saying STOP.
  • Extreme loud playing in the high and low registers  do not have to be practiced daily. Find out in your playing schedule what can be done every 48 hours or 72 hours.
Before practicing clear your mind by organizing your thoughts. Know what you want to practice and go for it with zeal. 

Playing Proteins 
Certain kinds of playing help strengthen certain parts of our embouchure and breathing systems. Correct loud playing can build the embouchure and support systems of breathing. Be mindful of the dose and I recommend 3-5 minutes of playing loudly then take 3-5 break and repeat if it feels right.
Short fast or slow tonguing, loud and soft, can also create greater cohesion in the embouchure which will be excellent for efficiency of response. 
High range playing will also help the feeling of 'grip' and add core to the sound. IF DONE BY THE  METHOD OF PLAY REST, PLAY REST. If not, it can be damaging especially when it gets loud.

Be patient, and find what works for you. PATIENCE IS ITS OWN SPECIAL KIND OF ENDURANCE, STRENGTH, ENERGY AND FOCUS. Try it and see!!


Ross said...

Thank you for these videos and extra information about endurance! Endurance is something that I've always wondered about how to work on...especially things you talked about like the difference between endurance as a physical strength vs. endurance as a technique of the mind or spirit and how it affects the physical body. I have some great useful thoughts to work on now in my practice!

Anonymous said...

Is it wise for a tuba player to actively play trombone in hopes of improving high-register playing?