Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 10:18:43 EST
Subject: Shoulder tension (was Wolfpack)

     Noticing the recent Wolfpack thread I thought I would throw in my two cents regarding physical tension.  I own both the Wolfpack 2.5 and Quad case and have found them to be very reliable (I check the Quad underneath without hesitation on each flight with only minimal problems due to occasionally aggressive baggage handlers).
      More important than the case though is the fact that it comes with optional integrated wheels and entension handle.  My colleague in the Canadian Brass, Ronald Romm, was the first one to point out that pulling horns rather than carrying them makes a huge difference in terms of feeling physically relaxed in the shoulder area.  It may not seem like much, but double or triple gig bags can weigh from 12-16 pounds (far more if you play 'Rajas'), a weight that we trumpet players have universally decided to accept as "part of the gig".
      The math equation that I enjoy using is T=ENEMY...'T' standing for tension.   After my first few days of pulling instead of carrying horns I noticed a SIGNIFICANT physical change in my shoulders before I had even played one note. Of the hundreds of young (and  'well-seasoned') trumpet players that we get to coach in masterclasses around the world, physical tension (especially in the upper body) is the thing that we tend to see most often.
Although shallow breathing is what needs to be dealt with in most cases, achieving physical equilibrium is what we really all need to be striving for. In other words, the trumpet needs to feel like a natural extension of the body.  That is more difficult to achieve if there are overused muscles on one side or the other.
       Although the distance we all carry our horns is usually short and considered inconsequential, I would be curious to see if any of you would experiment with rollers.  Perhaps you too will notice a positive change in relaxing shoulders that may be imperceptibly tense.
       If you are not in the market for a new Wolfpack roller, try putting your horns in single gig bags and place them in a soft luggage case.  Ronnie uses a commercial "rolling duffle bag" made by Travelpro which can take three horns, music, a stand and all of his mutes.  Arturo Sandoval also showed me his rolling case at an ITG conference a few years ago.
       In the daily quest that we all have to play the  trumpet with more efficiency, sometimes answers are found not only in one's head but also just just below it!

Jens Lindemann/Canadian Brass