Concerning certain exercises, to improve range/tone, how should I practice them?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Vstern, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. Vstern

    Vstern New Friend

    Jul 25, 2010
    I have read many questions on how to improve range. They say to practice more often, but they don't say how to practice. In addition, a lot of suggestions say to play lip slurs, intervals, or hold out a note with good tone for as long as possible, but they don't follow up. Concerning lip slurs or intervals, some suggestions are to play to the highest note you can. I can figure that you should just start over from the bottom when you hit the top, but how many times, and for how long? Furthermore, I've seen two exercises in a book that focused on tone quality and intonation. One was "How long can you play this exercise with one breath?" It was simply five tied G whole notes (in the staff). There was no suggested tempo; you just held it out. The other exercise also asked how long you could play with one breath, but it consisted of the following: G-F-E-F-G; tied whole notes, at the lower half of the staff. The suggested tempo was quarter note equals fifty.

    What I did for the two aforementioned exercises was play each five to ten times with a tuner, attempting to keep the pitch centered. However, concerning lip slurs, I just play at 50-80 bpm and go up chromatically. I usually peak around A above the staff. I'm not tired or fatigued, but the A comes out as a G. Then I just start over.

    Finally, when I try to play notes above the staff, (A<), they just don't come out. Once again, I'm not tired, but I'm just closing off, as my director says. I've focused on improving this but I can't move air fast enough. However, towards the end of a song I play in symphonic band (El Palomino Noble by Joseph Compello), my embouchure is too tired to finish the song. I take the notes down an octave for the last few measures, but my director is irritated because I am capable of playing the entire song, but towards the end, I'm tired and just start closing off.
  2. hichez

    hichez Pianissimo User

    Jul 13, 2009
    If you want range you need to play high. You can learn how to swing a baseball bat playing golf can you? Have you tried breathing excersies? They make you look silly but breathing correcting is very important. If yuu have a Clarke book the first study seemed to help me but it could have been a combination of the other excersies I have done. Just keep playing you will get the range you want.
  3. MVF

    MVF Pianissimo User

    Sep 10, 2010
    I've just started working more on range and I too have trouble with "pinching off" when I get to the high notes. I was really getting frustrated about sometimes being able to easily hit a note (up to a Bb above the staff) and other times pinching and not being able to get to an A. Last week the dime finally dropped for me on something my teacher said about a "big column of air".

    I found if I take a really big breath and just "play right through it" that did the trick. Another "trick" my teacher gave me was to think horizontally on the high notes (think of a row of chimes) instead of thinking "higher".

    The only problem with the big column of air is when the high notes come at the end of a passage! Still working on that!
  4. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005
    YOu're going to get a billion reponses to this, most of them different than the others. Everybody's got an opinion. Here's mine:

    - long tones - the purpose of practicing the long tones is twofold. One is that developing the ability to hold tones for longish amounts of time, in tune, with a stable sound, will cause you to learn to breathe properly and strengthen and stabilize your embochure. I say 'cause you' because you will only be able to do this after a lot of practice in this matter. The reason it's a good exercise for these remedies is because it allows you to concentrate on what's important to reach this stability (the aforementioned strength and breath control) without having to worry about fingerings, other problems, etc. When playing long tones, you should strive to play the tone at a low or medium volume and concentrate on a good clean sound, not doing funky things with your embochure, and learning to breathe properly and use your wind column (diaphragm, throat, tongue, embochure) in a relaxed efficient way. Once you can develop a reasonable sound in the mid range with this exercise, start adding a step or two on the high end slowly, and KEEP MINDING THE BREATHING!

    - lip slurs - start simply and slowly. Some of the basic slurring exercises in Arban are a good place to start. Practice the slur slowly, concentrating on the same things as with the long tones (breath breath breath!). Practice simple exercises through the mid range (start on low f# to c# slur and move chromatically to the f# and octave above). As you learn to play the slurs cleanly (and this will probably take at least weeks, don't rush it) you can then start a) playing the exercises faster, b) start adding more complicated slurs (work up to 4 and 5 note slurring patterns, and c) when ready start adding a step at the top to start actually playing higher. Remember: starting off you just want to practice these slowly. As you get better, always practice the newest permutation slowly, then do the more familiar ones faster as warranted. Don't be too quick to add range at the top, do it gradually a note or two at a time. And remember, you want to develop the ability to do these with good breath control, a good sound, and a strong embochure.

    Hope this helps.

  5. MVF

    MVF Pianissimo User

    Sep 10, 2010
    PS. Everything bigtiny said above is stuff my teacher had me doing before we started on range.
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    First of all, range is not just a brute force kind of thing. That said, as you ascend, do the notes get weaker and weaker or is there a cut-off point? If there is a cut-off point that is a sign that the lips are too far apart. Higher notes require what we can call a smaller vibrating area, or aperture. Sometimes excessive pressure keeps the lips from being able to move together, sometimes combined with either tonguing through the lips or having the lips too far apart when setting up.

    The cure? Spend a week practicing with "pü" attacks instead of "tü" attacks. (The “ü” sound is like the “eau” in “beautiful.”) This will help bring the lips together. You can expect to sound real bad at first but persevere.

    Perhaps the best range exercise is based on volume rather than range itself. Play a long tone, and decrescendo to the point of inaudibility. If it cuts off, that is not the object—the object is to play so softly that the sound is basically trapped in the bell. The cool thing is that the smaller aperture required for high playing is required for soft playing as well.

    Playing Clarke studies pppp and going up chromatically is a great range builder.

    For my take on air support and lip slurs go to post #3:

    and post #7:

    Have fun!
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I think most players never did find a magic bullet for range. The good ones just worked hard and one day woke up much better than the day before.

    I always have to smile when a young player "discovers" that they are missing range and/or endurance - during a band rehearsal. If they were practicing enough, this factoid would have been obvious much earlier - at home.

    As you have not noticed this when practicing, try doubling your practice time for the next 2 weeks. I think that you will make a very important discovery - without changing anything else.

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