Fuzzy tone after altissimo practice

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by larryt, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. larryt

    larryt New Friend

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    Dec 4, 2009
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    Hi. My effective range for about 10 years has been pedal E to High F# (above high C). I practice that range routinely and am very consistent. Recently, I have changed my breath control approach and found myself hitting the high G very consistent with what I feel is a good tone (always room for improvement). The problem is now that after practicing, the same way I've been practicing only now up to the G, my overall tone is getting annoyingly fuzzy. I'm being careful about pressure on the embouchure and proper air flow. Is this fuzziness temporary? Does anyone have any suggestions for things I should be looking for?

    Thanks
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    After 10 years of success, you change something, think that you gained a half step in range but lost tone quality. Hmmm, it sounds like whatever you did does not work.

    Messing with habits does change a lot in our lives.

    I think that you didn't change as much as you think, talked yourself into believing it, started playing less in the "musical" octaves, more where many problems originate and simply have beaten your chops up. If that is the case, your fuzzy tone will not go away, it will get worse.

    This would be a great place for a rant about the stupidity of high notes for many players. The sacrifices are great, the benefits few, and around here, there are not even many that feel sorry for those that don't know when enough is enough.

    Larryt, this is your first post. I would suggest that you do a search here on "daily routine". It could be the greatest Christmas present that you have ever received!

    Breath control is simply inhale big and relaxed - then play the same way. Anything else is cosmetic!
     
  3. larryt

    larryt New Friend

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    Dec 4, 2009
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    I realize what you say here to be true. It's just been a personal goal of mine, not a professional goal or necessarily an important goal. In all honesty, my purpose was to work on my breath to make it as relaxed as I know it could be. As a result, the G started to come out. I don't value the note as some sort of bragging rite. Frankly, I see it as applicably useless as a winter coat in Tucson. It's not so much that my tone is becoming bad, just after about 20-30 minutes of range work, it's just a little fuzzier than I can account for. I didn't know if there were any endurance issues that others face in that range.
     
  4. ChaseFan

    ChaseFan Banned

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    I suspect that it is just a small amount of fatigue.
    That extra bit of range requires a little bit more effort from the embouchure,
    so the embouchure is tiring a little bit earlier.

    If that is indeed what is happening,
    and that is a big "if",
    then give your embouchure at least a 1-hour rest just as soon as the fuzziness appears in your tone.
    Then after that lengthy rest see if the fuzziness is gone.
    After a few weeks the embouchure should be stronger and should be able to accommodate the extra range without that fatigue fuzziness appearing.

    Also, if that High G is your highest note, don't try to blast it loudly.
    A person's highest note should be played softly, gently so that the embouchure will adjust to it rather than react to it as physical punishment (the embouchure aperture getting smaller to play the high notes without a huge blast of air trying to blow the aperture farther open).
    And playing the highest note softly will allow the embouchure to play gently even higher than that after you embouchure has strengthened.
    Playing the highest note softly will give a different tone that some people might not care for, but doing so is still important.

    I hope you are using minimum or moderate mouthpiece pressure rather than mashing the mouthpiece against the lips,
    because less mouthpiece pressure allows the embouchure to develop and strengthen much better.
    But using too little mouthpiece pressure can also create a fuzziness in tone.
    Very mild or moderate mouthpiece pressure, not zero pressure and not mashing your lips either, is the key.

    Increasing range does help in one important way.
    Your endurance and tone become better in the range up to High C,
    because the range up to High C starts to feel "low" to you.
    I was amazed at how beautiful and effortless my High C's became after I increased my practice range to Double High C.

    My 2 cents worth from my own experience.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Larry,
    high notes can be hard work, or when all the pieces fit right, not much tougher than the midrange. When the pieces don't fit, we end up beating ourselves up in a relatively short time. If you hold a 5 pound dumbbell near your body, you can hold up it for a long time, put it down and immediately sign your name. Hold that same dumbbell straight out, and after a couple of minutes, you can't sign your name because of the muscle tension. The same thing happens with our face, but much more intensely as playing is pure fine motor activity. When you waste those muscles, a lot goes down the drain.

    As I mentioned, the daily routine is the base for all sensible playing, you always have a point to return to and a reference point for further development. Practice should be a pyramid with the high notes at the top, very small and to the point - and the base being our base - wide and low.

    My experience with players that do it right is that if you have a "proper" high G, you have also a double C (and more). When the chops work correctly, there really is no upper limit, the sound just gets thinner the higher you go. Anything else is a sign of excess pressure and tension.

    Stop beating yourself up and your tone will come back. Build from the bottom up and you won't have to worry.
     
  6. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

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    If your practicing in this range for 20 to 30 minutes and then get a fuzzy tone , try practicing your upper register a little less ,say 10 to 15 minutes with peddle tones and rests in that time period, it seems like your spending too much time in that range. I play lead in a big band that plays arrangements that are written to high Gs , As , Bbs , Bs and occasional double Cs, and I only spend about 15 to 20 minutes on high register practice, and that's with rests and peddle tones , and I've been doing this for 35 years.
     
  7. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

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    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Rowuk speaks words of wisdom -- a daily routine is indeed the base for all sensible playing. And building into that routine an organized system which gradually takes you higher and higher in a slow way, allowing your muscles to learn how best to work together for easy playing in any register is a smart thing to do. Investigate the Stamp Warmups, especially playing along with the CD, which is included with the book, in order to pace yourself properly and have an intonation guide to help you play in tune better. Also look into the Claude Gordon Systematic Approach to Daily Practice, being sure in both cases to read carefully and absorb their explanatory comments. Also read Claude Gordon's terrific book "Brass Playing is No Harder Than Deep Breathing" -- it may well change your whole concept of playing and allow for an easy upper register with good tone.

    You should be able to play low, middle and high all day long with no negative effect on tone, if you're doing things properly. And that includes knowing what your current range limit is and not pushing beyond that in your playing other than when working on those exercises designed to help you expand your range.

    To all that has been said I would also add that patience is a virtue and nowhere moreso than in expanding one's range on the trumpet. If done properly, it will come in time and when it comes it will stay and you'll be able to play for long periods of time in your entire range including the high notes. If you try to force it too soon or to put it into use too soon (it's one thing to hit an F above high C in your range exercise and quite a different thing to try to play it in the middle of an etude) you'll only limit yourself and possibly do irreparable damage.
     
  8. larryt

    larryt New Friend

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    Dec 4, 2009
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    A lot of what all of you have been saying is vindicating what I thought to be the case. I knew that there would be adjustment, I just needed to know that fatigue over a relatively minor (sorry for the pun) change in pitch was to be expected for a while. Thanks for all of your responses.

    Oh, Rowuk, I use the Clarke studies up an octave. Sound good to you, or do you recommend something else?
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I use Clarke up AND down an octave (on my 4 valved flugel). I only use up an octave when I have something coming up that needs more range than I normally have. Range exercizes are NOT part of my daily routine or practice.
     
  10. MTROSTER

    MTROSTER Piano User

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    Ya. I think it's called fatigue.;-)
     

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