Beginner with (low) range problems

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by rmavillarica, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. rmavillarica

    rmavillarica New Friend

    Nov 14, 2009
    Greetings from the Philippines!

    I am a 42 year old beginner. I have been taking lessons twice a week for about 1.5 months, so I hope it is not too early to ask questions.

    I am having problems with Low C and below. I can do a decent scale from D to C in the staff, but when I try C below, I usually cannot hit or stick to the right pitch, I usually end up bending it downwards somehow.

    Help please!

    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  2. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Try to relax...
    It's never too early to ask questions. Normally most people will hit the G as the preferred starting point.

    My only advice is to relax the jaw, think of the word "How" to open the jaw slightly, relax the shoulders and the embouchure.

    And don't worry, it will come. Your teacher can see you, so should be able to offer some good advice.
  3. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    If you're taking 2 lessons a week for 1.5 months, that's 10/12 lessons. I'm amazed that your trumpet teacher hasn't been able to help you get those lower notes. Is your teacher a trumpet player who teaches, or a teacher who plays the trumpet? Lots of good trumpet players aren't necessarily good teachers and lots of good teachers aren't necessarily good trumpet players.

    Without watching you play, the only suggestion which pops into my mind is that you might need a larger mouthpiece.

    Remember that the lowest range doesn't mean "make your lips as loose as possible and blow with low pressure" -- the low notes require an embouchure formed with the correct amount of pressure and the correct amount of air pressure blowing through them to make the proper pitch.
  4. rmavillarica

    rmavillarica New Friend

    Nov 14, 2009
    Thank you for your responses.

    I am trying to relax, but may be trying too hard, if that makes any sense. I can drop the jaw but doing so just seems to bend the pitch downwards some more. It feels like I cannot find the sticking point in the pitch, if that makes any sense.

    My trumpet teacher is primarily an educator. He teaches trumpet at one of the two major universities with music programs here. Maybe I'm just a difficult student...

    Thank you again!

  5. RAK

    RAK Piano User

    Jul 23, 2009
    Kettle Falls, Washington
    What kind of mouthpiece are you using? The problem could be that you are using a super shallow mouthpiece or your trumpet is a light model. It took a while for me to get the lower notes. I never went below C for a year and then I started going lower after a year. Listen to the other guys advice and you should get it. :thumbsup:

    Good luck!
  6. rmavillarica

    rmavillarica New Friend

    Nov 14, 2009
    I am playing a Yamaha 11B4 mouthpiece on a second hand Yamaha 2335 from ebay.

    Thank you!
  7. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    Hi, Martin!

    I agree with those who are recommending a larger mouthpiece. You will reap other benefits from a larger 'piece than simply a better low end.

    Practice is the main thing you can do besides the mouthpiece change. As has been suggested, make sure that your mouth is open as much as practical... make sure that your tongue is down at the bottom of your mouth, as if you were speaking the word "Ohhhh".

    Become accustomed to the low register and play simple tunes, hymns, or whatever at a mezzo loudness (mf or mp)... try playing the intervals bottom C to G in the staff, B to F# in the staff, Bb to F in the staff.... Low F# to C# under the staff. Be sure that you are extending your third slide sufficiently to make the C# in tune (probably somewhere on the 2 to 3cm extension range.)

    Practice practice PRACTICE in the low range until you get it.

    I had (have) more difficulty with the low register than I do with the upper register, and these are the things I did to (mostly) overcome them. For me, it was the Verdi Requiem (2nd onstage trumpet) that was the incentive to really overcome these limitations I had. The big mouthpiece was one of the biggest helps for me, along with the practice!

    Good luck!!!

    Guy Clark
  8. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

    Feb 21, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Before switching mouthpieces to assist with lower register playing, try slowing down the air. You can do this by relaxing the aperture so that it opens a slight bit more (bigger hole for the air to come out of), as well as not pushing on the air to help it slow down until you get the feel of playing those lower notes. Also, try descending chromatically... and build on that.

    Switching mouthpieces to go lower / higher is not a good idea...

    Just my humble thoughts -

    Keith Fiala
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    You have an excellent "standard" mouthpiece and there is no reason to handicap your playing this early. You are building new habits and the older we get, the longer it takes. A weak low register can be a lot of things. My advice is to try the following:
    stand up with your feet about shoulder width apart
    inhale deeply, then exhale without holding your air in, when your air is gone, inhale again. Picture this whole process as a circle. At the top and bottom of the circle, you change from in- to exhale or ex- to inhale. Notice that the circle is SMOOTH at the top and bottom, your switch from in to exhale should be too! Once your breathing works this way, replace exhale with play - NO TONGUING. Just let the air flow through your lips and whatever pitch comes out is ok. Once that works, practice exhaling higher and lower notes - NO TONGUE!
    If you are like most of my students, you will find that low notes (and high notes) this way are very easy. It takes a couple of weeks to get this "circle of breath" down, but then you have a concept for the rest of your life.

    Once the tongueless playing works, you add only a VERY small amount of tongue to articulate the tone.

    My findings are that most early players tongue WAY TOO HARD and that blocks many aspects of progress.
  10. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    HI, guys!

    While I generally agree with Rowuk on most things I've read so far, and most of his latest post, I do stand by my concern that an 11 rim (Shilke/Yamaha system) is pretty small. I've never liked the concept that a Bach 7C was a good starter's mouthpiece, even for children. My first trumpet (Olds Ambassador) came with an actual Bach 7C and I had all kinds of trouble with it at first. My dad brought home a Bach 3C for me after a few days and all of a sudden, I could play everything with which I was struggling.

    After less than a year, I moved up to the Bach 1C (I think I still have it!) which I used very successfully for several years, until I moved over to the Schilke 20 and 20D2d that I used all through highschool and college.

    I have a relatively large mouth (to which anyone who knows me personally will readily attest! ;-) ) and need a relatively large mouthpiece. A young child with a small mouth may be able to use a small mouthpiece effectively, but we're dealing with a 42 year old adult.

    As an aside, my wife had a similar experience while growing up. She started playing cornet in the Salvation Army in Chicago. They gave her a 7C cornet mouthpiece to start with, and almost immediately graduated to a 3 rim (I don't think it was a C cup). She now plays a Bach 1.5B on trumpet and we both play Denis Wick 2B on solo cornet in brass band.

    Mouthpieces are much like shoes, and one size surely doesn't fit all!! If he's having problems with his low range on a small mouthpiece, a larger one I seriously believe might make a big difference. Not only that, but it will help other aspects of his playing, including tone color and endurance. Old man Schilke was a big believer in the concept that you should play the largest mouthpiece you can (presumably for the playing you do) and I agree completely!


    Guy Clark
    whose usual mouthpiece is more like a tenor horn mouthpiece, and a Schilke 20 is a good mid-range piccolo trumpet mouthpiece.

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