Building Range?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpette2017, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Trumpette2017

    Trumpette2017 New Friend

    Sep 23, 2013
    Sorry if these posts are extremely annoying, I just really need help!
    I'm currently a Freshman in high school and in December, I switched my embouchure. I used to play waaayyy to the right and my tone and tongue were awful, so my teacher decided to switch me over to the center. I try to practice an hour a day. Warm ups, Arbans, Clarke, Pieces, Warm down. After nearly 4 months of this, I've managed to get myself up to a high G or a high A on a good day, but I still think I'm using too much mouthpiece pressure.
    Does anyone have any tips? I've been stuck on this G for over a month now and I've been starting to feel a little discouraged :( Marching season is going to start up again soon and playing first part will be a really big challenge for me. I could barely play it last marching season with my embouchure all the way to the side. And also, does the pencil trick work?
    Thank you in advance!
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, Trumpette2017!

    Try playing your high notes softly when practicing. Soft notes require strong chops to play.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    there are so many lies about range. There is basically only one sustainable method: the integration of mind, body, face ears and chops. Any method favoring only one of the aspects (pencil trick, chop exercizes) will FAIL.

    We can't force the body to go faster than it will, but we can make sure that we don't slow down the process by making bad decisions.

    You mention one hour a day. That is good.
    You mention warm up, technical studies and warm down. I think this needs to be better organized.
    You mention marching band. That is BAD NEWS during a building process - especially after an embouchure change. The problem with it is the physical force applied before sensible habits have been developed.

    Your embouchure was NEVER the reason that you had no endurance or range. The real reason was that your playing was not supported by good playing habits: breathing, body use, listening, chop and articulation activity.

    What I suggest is to take a break for this marching season. Then we set up your daily routine to build positive habits for playing. We monitor the progression and avoid things that will screw your development up. We are creatures of habit. It takes hundreds to thousands of repetitions to commit playing patterns to memory. Until we do, playing is a crap shoot.

    If you are willing to take this drastic step, I am sure that with an hour a day and 2-3 months that you will be well on your way to a much better approach to playing trumpet. If that is not an option, I think crash and burn are the only other results possible. Without the proper habits, you must compensate, if you compensate, you develop new, bad habits that have to be unlearned before they can be replaced. This is part of your problem now!

    Let me know if you are willing. Without 1 on 1 live lessons, it is tough to hear/see everything that needs to be done, but pointing someone in the right direction is pretty "general" if they have patience and drive.
  4. BigSwingFace

    BigSwingFace Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2013
    Frederick, MD
    Oh, it's no trick. I asked a question about the pencil exercise recently and got mixed responses. For me, it has helped tremendously with building my embouchure strength. The stronger your muscles are, the less inclined you are to use too much pressure. It's important to understand the concept of it, though, which is to train your muscles to react inward to increased air pressure to maintain a constant aperture size. When I say inward I mean in towards the pencil, not towards the teeth. Simply mashing your lips together is not what the exercise is about. The exercise, as described by Larry Meregillano, involves placing the pencil (or pen if you don't like the taste of wood) in between your teeth. Then you try to pass air through the lips and feel how they naturally tighten around the pencil to keep an airtight seal. Experiencing and thinking about this natural reaction is one key to unlocking the upper register. I am not a teacher, nor am I a pro, but I think people who advocate simply holding the pencil straight with their lip muscles are missing the point.

    That being said, there's no replacement for playing the horn and there are plenty of muscle-building exercises you can do while playing music. It's also important to be mindful (while not overthinking) of the fact that it's not all about air or all about chops or all about anything. It's about a lot of things working in harmony to produce a note.
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Yep, use less mouthpiece pressure. Your welcome in advance!
  6. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    Rowuk beat me to it.

    Thinking back to my HS and college days, I think this would be very hard for me to do. But taking a break from marching band (or moving to 2nd trumpet for a year) is something to consider.

  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Seriously, you are on the right track. You have a new comfortable embouchure that shows progression, and you are studying from excellent books. But this all takes time, and you need to give time a chance. That is the most important component. OK so what can you do to help technique simmer to give you continued improving results:

    1) Use less mouth pressure
    2) To do so requires more breath support, so work on taking in good full supporting breaths.
    3) Try to use upper facial muscles (not the lateral smile _ but the vertical smile U. These are the muscles attaching under you eye.
    A. When using these muscles (U), you will feel more tension in your upper cheek (rather than your neck and jaw with the _ smile)
    B. The reason to use the upper muscles is that the aperture is opened and more relaxed as the air passes through (in so doing vibrating) the lips
    i.) A more open aperture allows for more air flow, therefor less tension in the lip necessary to provide effective vibrations.
    4) Smart practicing. When you feel yourself fatigue (before, at, or after an hour), stop practicing for the day.
    A. If you don't stop here, muscle development ends, and in fact damage may begin to occur, then your progress falls behind.

    Good luck and I hope this longer explanation provides more "meat" than my initial post.
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I have taken a break from marching band now for 40 years. Has done wonders for my playing!

    Two out of two doctors agree, marching band may be hazardous to your health. Step responsively.
  9. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    So many of my problems in college were from over-playing. One semester, I played in 2 jazz bands, jazz combo, 3 brass ensembles, concert band, a community band, and a Latin band. I'm sure I left 1 or 2 out. And I couldn't figure out why I wasn't making any progress.

  10. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    Poor trumpette2017 -- I empathize with you but it's taken me 5 years to get a nice sounding G --- so you taking a month is quick progress. I made a switch from side to center of lips my senior year ----best decision ever for my embouchure --- but it took a full year to get back where I was. I sat out my senior year of band, it sucked, but here I am 30 years later still playing (except for 1 ten year break in practice sessions)

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