Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high notes?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Local 357, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    As you may have guessed by now some trumpet players have a very easy time playing in the extreme upper register. Never really encountering those obstacles that haunt and stymie the progress the majority of us find. Most trumpet players do not have an extreme upper register. Many very good ones don't even have an upper register at all. Some may doubt this concept. Thinking that all is required is hard work, patience and perseverance to be able to scream Double C's. And no doubt every trumpet player could benefit from those three attributes.

    That said let their be no doubt that cats like Mark Zauss, and Lyn Nicholson are naturally blessed with certain physical properties that do not exist within the mouths of the great majority of us. The average trumpet player is probably not going to find the ability to smear a musical sounding High C to an E above DHC (Double High C) at a volume that would clear the house of all company. But Zauss and Nicholson can do this. At least the average cat will not get these results from within the confines of his most comfortable embouchure setting. A harsh reality but believe me it's true.

    The goal for the rest of us probably is to develop what we have, play musically and try to at least be able to play a solid musical High F as needed for several Stan Kenton type big band charts. An ability that is not so common actually. However these kind of chops probably are within the reality of those of us less fortunate. And when you think of it we can take more pride than the gifted players. Unlike the gifted we REALLY worked for it.

    Doubt me? Here's the proof. This is not a recommended embouchure change. Not unless you can swiftly put the system together*. If so? Then sure. Run with it. This is however just an experiment. For you to prove to yourself that by putting your chops in a specific position fairly easy high notes will emanate. You probably will never be able to use this trick successfully. Just an experiment to prove a point to yourself.

    Put together these items:

    1. Small mirror to fit on music stand.

    2. A medium size to small mouthpiece. For extra credit get something weird like the Lynch Assymetric piece. The Lynch piece will help partially incapacitate the lower lip. Allowing it to merely guide the dominant upper lip in the freak chop setting described below. Freeing the upper lip to allow unlimited range.

    Or maybe even get one of Trumpetmaster's brilliant Dr. Dave's pieces. I can't quite explain why Dave's pieces can work so well in the upper register. At least not within a short forum post anyway. But they often do allow a favorable embouchure contact position for high notes.

    While looking in mirror throw your jaw out until the lower teeth extend past your uppers. Leave a gap between the lower and uppers of something near a quarter of an inch.

    Next pull down and completely roll your lower lip with your index finger while holding steady the forward jaw setting. Expose the inner gum of your lower lip.

    Place mouthpiece connected to trumpet on your chops while maintaining the forward jaw and pooched out lower lip. Put the mouthpiece right on the inner gum of your lower lip. This will feel silly but do it anyway. Point the horn our slightly up or above a perpendicular to your face. Your forward jaw will require this anyway. Experiment with other horn angles too just for kicks. Whatever works...

    Keep the flesh on the mouthpiece soft and supple but firm up your corners.

    Take a medium deep breath and blow lightly upwards into the mouthpiece. Again, keep the mouth corners firm and with mouthpiece set on the inner gum of your lower lip. Strive for something at or around a High C. Then with firm mouth corners push more air pressure into the horn until notes in excess of High G squeak out. Keep your jaw/teeth position at least a little open. You may at first get only fart sounds or hissing static. However when it starts to sound like a tree branch breaking? Or the static from a short wave radio? You're getting close. Some have compared the precursor tones to sounding like the old test pattern of a non cable TV set...

    With practice you can very easily blow Triple C's this way. With even more practice you may open up the register above High G so loudly that everyone will need to leave the house in order to avoid ear drum damage. Playing in this "wigged" out setting I can sometimes blow a G above DHC so loudly that it hurts my own ears. With hardly more effort than if I were to play a High C on my regular chops.

    However i kind of doubt that you'll be able to connect this trick down into the lower register and make some kind of professional and durable chop technique out of it. Some cats will but unless you're willing to put five to ten years into it? Probably not going to work. Maybe not even then. Yet it might work though. The concern is that by fooling around with this idea you may be chasing rainbows. Allowing your regular chops to waste away while fiddling with some speculative investment in questionable/valuable practice time.

    I point out this idea merely to help you gain an understanding that certain gifted trumpet players have the parameters in their chops similar to what you just now temporarily rigged your own chops for. But with a difference: These lucky cats find this or another favorable upper register condition within their lips, jaw and mouth in their natural position. They do not need to trick or wig their chops out for extreme high notes because the physical properties necessary to blow easy high notes exist within their mouth, lips and dental condition since their birth.

    With all these coordinates naturally in place these fortunate few just blow and everything works fairly easily. Sure they need time to develop but practicing and performing for them is fun and easy. No carved up lips, fewer cracked notes and far less stress. Of course if they really put their system to the test, like playing the lead book for Maynard's old band they might well be advised to use specialty equipment like shallow scream pieces. However they will never encounter the rough road most of us travel. And despite the inspiration of their amazing abilities they tend to make the worst teachers. With a few notable exceptions. Maynard having been one of these unique sorts.

    For the rest of us? Well lucky for us a solid High G is well within our eventual capability. Although we may need to use some specialty equipment. A good understanding of the physical properties (so rarely discussed) of the blow and embouchure also necessary. But we can do it. Also most of us over train our chops. Or we cut off the air. So a crash course in breathing, air support and avoidance of over training is a true "must".

    You can fix at least half of all brass players by getting them to breath and blow effectively and aggressively. Using their whole body to feed air support. Maynard knew this. Certainly he was gifted but by virtue of his decades of contact with struggling brass players both from his own band and students he knew how to get the kids to blow.

    See about 2:10 here: Maynard Ferguson 1977 clinic - YouTube

    Air isn't the only answer but it's a necessity. And one only seldom talked about.


    * No matter how many times I write this disclaimer:

    "This is not a recommended embouchure change. Not unless you can swiftly put the system together".

    No doubt some idiot will still accuse me of promoting embouchure changes. Watch for it! Right here and in spite of my words otherwise. They always do this... The main reason I post anonymously these days. The fools will always prejudge and say stupid things. I refuse to debate mental midgets.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  2. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    Yeah, Mark Zauss has some good stuff on youtube -- I had to take "somewhere over the rainbow" so the high A was the high note ---at least last year!!! -- Hey I only know that the Asymmetric (3C+544) --uh the deep cupped one--- works for me. Maybe it does help isolate my bottom lip, and maybe for years my bottom lip was "just in the way" --- I don't know. I do know that 2,000+ hours on the thing produced a decent High A, and playable Melody line anyhow of "Rainbow" --- but I agree that it is a fleeting thing, or at least something that I can't play (High range above the high G) within a song, or a whole song. So maybe people should all realize what their limit of good quality sound is. Occasionally I can tap into one of those Double High C's, that are very sweet. But it is the rarity, more than always reproducible.
    So --- what can we say???? perhaps Zauss, Nicholson, Maynard had some inherit Physical attributes in their muscles that allowed a more "athletic type", or more "endurance" type embouchure.
    What we do know is ----- Practice can help everyone achieve -----well, they can achieve (maybe NOT Maynard like status) -- but they can achieve more than they thought they could --- IN MY OPINION that is!!!!!!!!!
  3. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    An interesting post to be sure. I would agree that all have a much larger potential range than they believe, that can be unleashed with proper technique and breathing. Yet of course the high range will be easier for some than for others. I wonder if these "high note" players ever struggled with other aspects of their playing in the same way that some struggle with range..
  4. duanemassey

    duanemassey Piano User

    Jul 14, 2009
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    We are not all constructed the same way. Hard work and practice can certainly make a major difference, but the lucky few who are gifted with both the perfect natural embouchure AND the self discipline to practice will achieve something the rest of us can't quite get to, just as someone who is born with a "perfect" vocal set-up will find much more success than someone with little physical skills, no matter how much practice is involved.
    I have know players who worked very hard to develop a minimal amount of talent, and have made a decent career for themselves, so it is certainly possible, but the elite players in all genres have a little "something" that we mortals just don't have.
  5. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    It really makes you respect the work some people put in. Not that I don't respect those with talent! Hard work is required to succeed as a musician whether or not you have talent. I think that's part of what I find is very attractive about being a musician --- the will to succeed, desire to improve, and the connection with one's deeper self.
  6. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    Practice is the only way to get high notes. Like with everything else, some things come quicker to some people.
    Rolling your jaw and having some ridiculous high note setup is only setting you up for sounding horrible in every other register and not being able to play the full range of the horn without re-setting up.
  7. Paul Du Bourg

    Paul Du Bourg Pianissimo User

    Oct 27, 2006
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    Hey Chaps,

    Last night, big decision on which horn to play.
    End result, 7C mouthpiece + horn = nice sound.
    Slurring up to High C,D,E,F,G..= practice.ie. no mysteries here.
    The more I try the more I realize that patience is an unqualified virtue that needs to proceed everything that follows
    ..................as long as the effort is put in you will reap your reward.

    Time to go and practice what I preach.

    Spend too much time on TM.


  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    Nope, I never asked that question! I was taught that there will always be better and worse than me and to look in the mirror before asking a question.

    My teacher had me on a steady diet of MUSIC and I never had to worry about range. I think that there is an obsession with range that goes FAR beyond any possible usefullness.

    I have always wondered why some trumpet players made so many obnoxious noises up high but then died when it came to playing the chart. Watching crash and burn was MUCH more fun than messing around with things I wasn't ready for.

    This reminds me of an anecdote that an Apple saleman told me:

    Ask a Mac user about their computer and they show you what they have finished. Ask a PC user and you get GHz, memory and HD size and HOW they are trying to get something accomplished.
  9. bagmangood

    bagmangood Forte User

    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    This reminds me of something else - right tool for the right job.
    This includes approach. Some people need to think in order to accomplish anything in a field. Some can't think about anything. Both approaches work, depending on the person.
    In music I can't think about anything and get results, I have to just play. In fencing, I have to think about the mechanics of everything in order to do anything.

    Physiology is very strange. And when it is compounded by psychology...
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Re: Ever asked yourself what it is that makes some trumpet players gifted w/ high not

    Good point!

Share This Page