Corners stretching automatically when I play high notes, is this bad?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpeter3197, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Trumpeter3197

    Trumpeter3197 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    First let me give you the background.

    Recently I have become a lead trumpet player for my high school jazz band. My first task, obviously, was to work my range up to par for the charts that I had to play. I did lots of lip slurs, long tones, and practicing the high notes that were in my music. This helped me a lot short term, my range went from a weak high Eb at the beginning of the year to a strong high G/A and occasional double C by the end. Soon after the school year ended, my range and endurance went down a LOT. After talking with my teacher and director, it was agreed that this was due to a problem of mouthpiece pressure overuse, which stemmed from me playing too much high notes without proper technique and straining my embouchure.

    So I spent almost a full month just practicing things like clarke studies and playing slow tunes at a soft volume, striving to improve my tone and make me able to relax. After I got the hang of this, I started doing my lip slurs and high arpeggios (range exercises) again, this time using proper form and not tensing my embouchure. My range has come back fast, within a week of doing these exercises I had gone from barely a high D (yes, I lost that much range) to getting my solid G's back and screaming loud F's. Now I notice that when I play anything high, my corners involuntarily stretch, like a smile. This only happens in the extreme upper register, and when I play a phrase that starts high and then goes lower, my corners go back to normal as I go back down. I've heard this is a bad thing, and although my corners aren't stretching into a full smile, they're noticeably stretched. My pressure problem seems to have gone away, I never experience lip pain, swelling, or poor tone anymore.

    Is this a problem? If so, what does it mean/how can I fix it? (My trumpet teacher is coming back in a week and a half but I wanted some other opinions first).
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2012
  2. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    There are more experienced players and teachers who may trump my comments, but, you know, when I read the thread topic, my knee-jerk reaction was, "you darn right".
    Because that's what I was taught and that's one of the things I did which screwed up my playing for a while. The conventional wisdom when I was getting regular training was that this was a very bad idea. One reason being that it thinned out the sound, the other that it reduced the amount of lip that cushions some metal to bone pressure on the lips from the mouthpiece.

    But as I read your post what stands out to me is that your
    - "pressure problem seems to have gone away", and that you
    - "never experience lip pain, swelling", or
    - "poor tone anymore"

    . . . the exact reasons it has been my "conventional wisdom" as to why not to stretch.

    Maybe your stretching is not pronounced and maybe all it is doing is enhancing your playing. Probably the only way to really know if it's doing harm is over time, once you've been using it a while and in demanding situations.

    These are my thoughts and I guess that I'm not really advocating stretching. I don't want to be responsible for any problems you might have months for now but if, instead of causing problems, it seems to have solved some, I can't see the downside.

    I await more sage wisdom in response. :D
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2012
  3. patkins

    patkins Forte User

    Nov 22, 2010
    Tuscaloosa, AL.
    I am not a sage. I would advise to play in front of your instructor and have a person visualize in person what is happening and then let them critique your technique. So far they haven't steered you wrong; therefore, it sounds like you have your sage there.
    Best Regards
  4. chenzo

    chenzo Piano User

    Jul 18, 2008
    I would just like to use one of my Favorite proverbs here............. Patience is a virtue

    It seems that you are being diligent on what you are doing.............and good on you .
    We sometimes over analyze things..which in turn can lead us in a somewhat downward spiral.
    The mind can and does do strange things to us.

    I would suggest that just go out and enjoy your trumpet playing and don't think about it to much.
    From what I have read about your post its suggests that you aware of what you are trying to achieve.
    Let nature take its coarse.

    Your body will most likely let you know when things are not right ..So be in tune with it.

    Things will come....... don't be to impatient ....
    Remember everyone is different so there for every ones approach to playing the horn is going to be somewhat different.

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