Can anyone play high?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

    Aug 9, 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    I play with a guy who studied with an officially certified Gordon teacher for at least five years. Not a lazy guy -- stuck with the program, practiced more than I ever did, blamed himself for every failure and just worked harder...

    He has had, a few times in the past, a practice room F or G, and I've heard him blast out painfully uncontrolled E's while warming up, but he's never had a gig-ready E or even Eb.

    I suppose it's possible that every player could develop the ability to play "high," if they tried a methodology well-suited to them, and/or studied with a teacher well-suited to them, and/or happened to play equipment particularly well-suited to them. But many players will probably not luck into the right combination of factors at random.

    I will say this: To every one of you who has responded by claiming that every player would be able to play "high" if they did what you do -- you're wrong. Every methodology/technique/pedagogy/school-of-thought/philosophy (of playing the trumpet) has its failures. Every one. If you can't accept this, you're blinding yourself to reality.

    The amazing potential of the Internet is demonstrated in the fact that we now, as trumpet players, can be exposed to so many different methodologies, whereas in the past what we were exposed to was a function of geography. When I was a young brass-player in Colorado and New Mexico, I'd never heard of Reinhardt or Caruso, Claude Gordon had edited my copy of Arban's, and Jerome Callet made outrageous claims about his instruments in the back of ITG journals and DownBeat magazine (and apparently published method books on the side). I never heard of Maggio until I read "Learn to play the Maggio way!" at the bottom of an old big-band chart in Walla Walla, WA, and I had no clue what that might mean until... the Internet.

    The challenge now is to try to filter the dreck out and evaluate what actually might have promise. And the odds for a trumpet player struggling with playing "high" now may be no better than they ever were, because now the problem is too much conflicting information, as opposed to only one regional school of thought.

    In closing, all you lucky players who are developing awesome upper registers, from G above high C up to double C, must not live near me. And I don't doubt you -- I'm just thankful that you're apparently not in my zip code. I'm well aware of my place in the trumpet food-chain, and it isn't at the apex. But I'm doing okay with a solid, end-of-the-second-set F above high C. But I sure wish I could stumble upon that Magic Method.
    JLSmith526 likes this.
  2. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    One thing that can help is to focus on the muscles around the mouth. There's a few exercises just for this (no trumpet necessary) that I learned in Mexico last year from a jazz musician I met. He gave me my first lesson. That was actually the first thing he told me ..... you have to train the muscles of the face like an athlete.

    The first one is like a mouth "crunch". You just tighten up all the muscles around the mouth (upper lip to chin) and then relax them, over and over for 30 seconds or a minute. Try to do this for a full minute to see where these muscles are at. I do at least a few minutes of this a day.

    The second one is a tongue circling motion. With your mouth closed, run your tongue across the front of your top teeth and then finish the circle in front of your bottom teeth. Do this circle for a minute and see what that feels like.

    The 3rd one is hard to describe ...... It's like a fish closing its mouth, fast. Open wide, then close quickly bringing lips together. Should be an audible "pop" to show you still have some compression in your body. (just kidding)

    The last one involves an empty beer can and a shoestring, but I think it can be hard on your teeth, so I don't do this one. Also, it looks ridiculous.

    Work out your face this way and you'll develop those tiny muscles. Playing develops these muscles, but these exercises are like being in the gym. Hope these help.

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011
  3. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    So you two above believe that you're helping someone who already claims to do the pencil excercise/P.E.T.E. to build his corners and who admits to trying every method he's seen under the sun on the Internet by recommending he do exactly what he's been doing? He's already been exposed to dozens of methodologies and has been "filtering" for years. There's no regional bent to his problem. One guy who studied the method and got a lousy E. Dude, this guy doesn't have a Ab below that! And to the other poster, I'm not a Gordon devotee, my brother was, and he got his high register going well before I did while I squirreled around below high F and no endurance until I came back to the trpt years later and went with an Adam routine and some lessons.

    Of course every method has it's shortcomings, and the Gordon one is famous for not emphasizing musical expression, but a certain Cuban monster got around that by making Clarke #1 an exercise in expression.

    And to the poster, if the Gordon way is not for you, contact Pops McLaughlin in Texas. He's helped a lot of folks I know with only his ideas, and you may know many as well, Anne King, Rex Merriweather, and no less than Herb Alpert. It will be worth the research into a land of trpt without tension or limits.

  4. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010

    He's been doing the Mexican crunches??? The tongue circling fish pops? Dang, I must have missed that.:lol:

  5. craigph

    craigph Piano User

    Mar 12, 2010

    I'm calling BS on this one. After 10 months you can hit the C that is 5 leger lines and a space over the staff? I suspect you mistakenly think that high C (ie two leger lines over the staff) is DHC. Same thing with Kingtumpet's "high E over DHC" story. Read Rowuk's sticky about DHC.
  6. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    john sez:
    I physically can't play parts of music that is handed to me to play because it goes too high for me or is there too long or too loud or for whatever reason.
    What do you mean "you can't physically handle the parts?"
    You might want to check out John Thomas' Secrets of Trumpet Playing Revieled.
    He discusses among other things, how to play in the upper register.
  7. vern

    vern Piano User

    Mar 4, 2008
    Tough question-it's like asking "Can anyone play the trumpet?" I would guess that, if motivated, some can and (in my experience) some can't even with motivation.
  8. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Do I believe anyone can learn to play high? Yes I do. Do I think you have to study a certain method ,with a specific routine of scales,arpeggios,etc. in a special order? No I don't. Learning to play high is a technique.
    You have to learn how to use your lips,jaw,tongue,breathing,and the right mind set. I've seen young kids in middle school with high G's, even one with double C's. Now these kids didn't practice anything special to develop this range,they were lucky that they set up everything correctly.
    Unfortunately I wasn't one of these lucky few. I practiced everything I was supposed to do, to develop a high range. I was 25 yrs. old had been playing since 7th grade,had spent 3 yrs. as a military musician and still could not play consistently above a high Eb. I was lucky and discovered what I had to change in my set up, on my own. Now once you learn what to do ,practicing the right things does help develop more range and endurance,but unless you're doing the physical set up right ,you will never really be able to play double C's and higher.
    In my years of playing (I'm 60 yrs. old) I've noticed there are basically 3 different types of players.
    1. The natural player.
    2. The player who can adapt to change and learn a different technique.
    3. The player whose bad habits are so deeply ingrained that they can't adapt and
    unconsciously keep slipping back to their old ways.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011
  9. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    I'd be happy to demonstrate if it means that much to you. When will you be in Oregon next?


    btw, I know where double C is, I have a piano. I didn't say it was in a musical context.
  10. Conntribution

    Conntribution Fortissimo User

    Dec 25, 2010
    Lloyd Harbor NY.
    My pedals used to make tones before the bike shop overhauled it.

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