Endurance and High Notes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RichK, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

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    Apr 7, 2010
    Canada
    Rick,

    I have what I believe is great advice in the absence of a teacher. I am a comeback player like yourself and others here. While my last time with a horn was only 30 years ago (God bless you), I have been on the comeback trail for about one full year. Some of what I am going to tell you is advice I have read or been told personally and did not believe but now know is true.

    I suspect at nearly 48 I am younger than you, given that you have been away from the horn my entire life. But the following is still true: do not be hard on yourself and give yourself time. Be patient. I have been feeling (and still do) that my entire trumpet life has passed me by while I worked and raised a family. As a result, I have been way, way too impatient to do it all and get it all in. I did a couple of stupid things I am just now recovering from and have gotten back on track.

    If I was without a teacher, I would go through the Rubank series of books, from beginning to advance. Each lesson is a planned program of study that includes all the basics, i.e., long tones, lip slur, arpeggios, etc. The lessons are in a natural progression. I absolutely love it for that reason. When asked what people should practice, all the basic elements are in the Rubank series, within each lesson. It usually takes me 30 minutes in the beginning then as I consolidate and master the lesson, it then goes down to 20 minutes. Then, you can take a break as you do, or continue with your other etudes. Each lesson can take one to two weeks to master it is up to you.

    I have read through an entire library of recommended trumpet books and if you are going to do it yourself. I recommend Herbert L. Clarke’s “Elementary Studies” and “Technical Studies” as well as Sigmund Herring’s Etudes. The reason is that Clyde Hunt has produced CDs from these books that allow you to listen how something should sound and then you can give it a go. Mr. Hunt has also produced several educational CDs in “call” and “response” fashion so you can teach yourself under his guidance.

    trumpet methods,trumpet music,trumpet pedagogy,trumpet cds

    As for the swollen or tired lips, it is normal. Constant, steady practice will delay the onset time for lip fatigue. But, you must be patient as progress in that area in incremental.

    I hope this helps.

    Best Wishes,

    David
     
  2. Mambo King

    Mambo King Pianissimo User

    86
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    Aug 20, 2009
    London
    Excuse my ignorance here but is this "MOB and Bull" thing for real? Although I'm a strictly amateur trumpet player I'm actually a professional percussionist who has played with many of the BBC orchestras and am currently in a long running West End show (yes, I'm English!) and teaching at a university in the south east of England and in all of my experience, on all the instruments that I've played with or alongside, and with every possible fibre of musical common sense in my body the one commonality is that tension is the enemy and I always chastize myself when i resort to the "no technique, pressure method" (paraphrase). If this is a serious school of thought then the logical extension is that to out-Maynard Maynard Ferguson, all you need to do is to press until the mouthpiece pops out of the back of your head. I apologise unreservedly if I've got this wrong but it just does not make sense, musically or physically.

    Rich, I began years ago on a King 1500 (long since discontinued) but it was a great horn for me and I recently missed out on one on Ebay much to my annoyance. The true value of any instrument is the happiness it brings and you cannot put a price on that !
     
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    2,156
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    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi Richk,
    Try this:
    Take the tuning slide out and with the mouthpiece in the lead pipe with the smallest amount of pressure possible. Use just enough to create a seal.
    Play quietly the single tone the lead pipe generates. Now remember, play softly. As you do this, make sure the sound doesn't quiver or go up and down. Once you get a straight stable sound, add a little pressure. You can hear the sound go up as you press and go back down as you release the pressure.
    The "so what" to this is to show why we use pressure. To play different notes.
    Now, do the same thing with the mouthpiece and lead pipe but witha difference. Use the corners of your mouth instead of pressure to make the sound move.
    The "so what" to this to head you toward the muscles you need to be using.
    If you do this, you'll see what I mean.
    Now that you're armed with knowledge, do lip slurs "using the right muscles"
    Start with open (0) and slur as high and as low as you can go and be very aware not to use the "arm strong method".
    Slur these 7 combinations every day and in a month or two you'll be playing "ALOT" better.
    Here's the 7 combos: A fun way to do this is to make each one sound like bugle calls. Just make sure you slur and use the corners of the mouth to change the pitch instead of pressing the mouthpiece against your lips.
    0
    123
    13
    23
    12
    1
    2
    ----
    Check back in a couple of months and let us know how you're doing. Oh, by the way, these lip slurs are gonna kick your butt big time. Just hang in there. Do the 7 every day.
    Good Luck
     
  4. RichK

    RichK New Friend

    14
    0
    Apr 30, 2010
    Arvada, Colorado
    Mambo King,

    I do believe that the link I posted is from a legit source, whether or not it is good advice I guess is up to the individual.

    Markie,

    Once again, I believe I am the recipient of good advice.

    Funny you should mention bugle calls. For that is something that I have also been doing. I am considering volunteering playing Taps for military funerals at some time in the future when I can do a good reliable job. I can play First Call, Reveille, Mess Call, Assembly, Taps and I am working on To the Colors. I certainly have more respect for military buglers that I had before trying to do the calls.

    To all of you that have chimed in on my problems, I really appreciate it.

    Rich
     
  5. RichK

    RichK New Friend

    14
    0
    Apr 30, 2010
    Arvada, Colorado
    There is one other thing I wanted to mention. I have not learned the fingering for all of the #'s & b's. However, I do know most of the fingering for the natural notes and if I see a # that I don't know, I do know the fingering for the note above it then I substract 1/2 tone to get the fingering for the #. Same goes for the b's. Way back in school I do not remember anyone telling me what the effect was for each of the valves. It is so simple, do they teach that in school now or is it just a memorization task to learn the fingering?

    Rich
     
  6. ltg_trumpet

    ltg_trumpet Mezzo Piano User

    669
    3
    Jan 21, 2009
    some one on here... cant remember who... said... "dont smash the meat cushion"
     
  7. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    187
    3
    Apr 7, 2010
    Canada
    Air support and aperture control is all you really need, and is an on-going skill development on my part. Zero-pressure or no pressure is generally a misnomer. I would rather start a new movement to rename the method to the “sufficient pressure” technique. If your embouchure is strong enough to give you good aperture control and you add to that air support from the belly up (wind power), you only need sufficient pressure to seal the mouth piece to the lips.

    An exercise that taught me this was playing as softly possible (thanks to Keith Fiala for the tip). At present, after a couple of months of practice I can slur from #F to G on the stave very quietly and effortlessly, using just enough pressure to make a seal. Now the amount of pressure by necessity does increase “a bit” as I climb up the scale, but it is in no way comparable to the “strong arm method”. It is translating slowly to my regular playing and keeping the lips fresher, for a longer period of time. Just practice slowly and surely to make steady, incremental gains.

    Also, two weeks ago, I started an exercise similar to what Markie suggested. The suggested slurs are invaluable: they strengthen the embouchure and teach you what you need to do with your embouchure to gain flexibility and increase in range. Again, focus on the corners and getting them to work and use lost of air support from the belly up. I believe this second exercise like the first one in its own way teaches you how to use your embouchure and air together become more efficient.

    Every book I have read thus far and most experts agree that "excessive" pressure is a bad idea for multiple reasons. The pyrotechnics of pros shooting for the stars when they play to entertain is another story.

    David
     
  8. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    2,858
    68
    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Rich,
    I can relate to everything you have posted so here is my take on it.

    First, I am a comeback player (who woulda guessed??) after a 40-year layoff. I first started back in 1955 and at that time the embouchure that was almost universally taught was the "smile" method where the lips are pulled tightly over the teeth and the ends of the lips are pulled as far back as possible - hence the term "smile". This embouchure invites the high-pressure method for reaching high notes and also leads to the sense of numbness in the lips after awhile due to that pressure.

    When I joined here, I read many threads about embouchure and found out that the "smile" method is no longer considered the best and what is recommended now is the "pucker" method. Actually, while it is called "pucker" it is really not as pronounced as it would be if you are kissing a baby. It is more what I call the "pursed" method where the lips are shaped like you would trying to spit out a watermelon seed. With this method, the ends of the lips are pulled in toward the center and the lips are pushed out slightly as if you are blowing on hot soup.

    If you try it, you will find that you can sense that the vibration on the lips occurs at a different spot. In my case - I have very thin lips - when I use the smile method, I can feel the vibration occurs right at the line where the red part of the lips and the outer skin come together. When I use the pucker method, the vibration occurs maybe 1/10" or 2 to 3 mm further back into the red part of the lips. This may not seem like much but it is enough to make it easier for the lips (mine, at least) to vibrate easier and increase my endurance and range, though not dramatically.

    The biggest difference is that I can do it with far less pressure and also because the lips are pushed out a bit rather than pulled across the teeth, there is a natural cushion for the mouthpiece and it does not cause the lips to feel numb after awhile.

    It has taken me a long time (most of a year) to break the old habit of reverting to the smile method when I am not thinking about it and I had to work awhile to have the same tone but now that it is natural for me and I don't think about it when playing, it has helped a lot.

    There are a lot of threads here about embouchure development with many warnings about the dangers of changing embouchure so take this with a grain of salt. It may not be perfect for you. I play with the mouthpiece exactly centered L-R and 50/50 top/bottom so this method may have worked better for me than for someone who has the mouthpiece off center but it may be worth a try.

    I will provide some insights into the fingering issues next.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  9. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    2,858
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    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    The saga continues...

    When I learned to play in the 5th grade, I was taught scales starting at the bottom and playing up and I simply memorized the fingering patterns. It was never explained to me the relationship between the valves and the tones to which they contribute.

    So, when I joined and started reading threads here, I found out how they work. Read the 'sticky' thread about "How does a trumpet work" at the top of the the thread list for this section - especially the videos by NickD starting at post #74 - and it will help a lot. Anyway, the pitch has to do with the overall length of the "pipe" that makes up the trumpet - going from the mouthpiece to the bell.

    With all valves up, the path of the air (actually, the acoustic standing wave) is the shortest it can be. Pressing any valve lengthens the path because the slide for that valve is now in the path. And, the longer the path, the lower the note. So, pressing valves causes the notes to sound lower than with the valves all open (up). By the way, the notes played with all open valves are referred to as "partials" and the lowest note you can play (referred to as "pedal C" - or one octave below the C below the staff) is the "First partial". C below the staff is the "second partial", 2nd line G is the "third partial", 3rd space C is the "fourth partial" and so on.

    Remember that any particular embouchure setting is for a specific partial and pressing the valves will lower the pitch from that partial with no change in embouchure setting.

    Because the 2nd valve slide is the shortest, it drops the pitch one semitone (1/2 step) from the corresponding partial being played. The first valve slide is next and it drops the pitch 1 full step - 2 semitones - from the partial. The third valve slide being the longest drops the pitch 3 semitones - which is the same as the 1st and 2nd together. That is why the 3rd valve is always an alternate fingering for 1+2.

    So, if you want to play a chromatic scale going DOWN (opposite to the way that everyone is taught when starting out), simply set the embouchure for a partial (say 2nd line G) and then press the valves in sequence Open, 2, 1, 1+2 (or 3), 3+2, 3+1, 3+1+2 and you will go down naturally. Note that I have shown the valve combinations in a non-standard form because I want to emphasize the fact that in any combination, adding the 2nd valve to it goes to the next lower semitone pitch.

    Obviously, after you reach the 3+1+2 combination, the next lower note will be the next lower partial and requires you to change embouchure for that partial. That is why teaching scales going up is difficult because if you start on an open note (partial) the very first note above that one, using valves, is based on the NEXT PARTIAL up and requires an immediate change in embouchure - but they never tell you that and you must discover it by trial and error (a lot of error - and being yelled at). It is no wonder that a lot of students become discouraged and quite early.

    When my grandson started band in 6th grade, I taught him the scales going down from G and the valve combinations and in the very first lesson he could play the chromatic scale going downward without ever seeing a fingering chart. He just memorized the sequence of valves to change the pitch one semitone at a time.

    So, that may help but just in case you want a memory jogger, here is a link to a thread which has a fingering chart that may help. It is a bit complicated but since you play the piano, it may not be foreign to you. There are several posts in that thread but if you go to page 3, post #26, you will find the chart there.
    http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f131/natural-pitch-concert-pitch-cornet-52329-3.html#post481154
    I hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
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    Jun 18, 2006
    Germany
    I find all of the advice in principle good, but none of it will probably help here. The chances of someone figuring out how to "structure" their development all by themselves with no formal trumpet training, is plain old pot luck.

    My take on this: accept the fact that the thread owner will actually do what he originally posted.

    My advice, keep working on what you are doing. Slurs are good, as are scales. I would recommend stopping playing BEFORE your face is wasted. That way their is more of a building process and less "tear down". I also recommend getting a fake book, hymnbook or any other collection of tunes. 4 months in to learning the trumpet, they are MUCH more important than exercizes practiced perhaps incorrectly.

    Lastly, find a buddy to play duets with. Even if it is a younger high school student, the advantages of one on one will bring you closer to a lesson type of experience. If there is a local wind band, find out if someone there is available for occasional tips. Lessons in life are not just formal as you at your age are well aware of. You also know deep down that the easiest way to success is the structured one. Without local help, this is difficult to achieve.

    I can appreciate the thought you have already put behind your post and decision. All we can hope for is a proper opportunity for you to get some local guidance as the internet does not have the bandwidth to show us all of the necessary details for lessons.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010

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