Getting Started

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Doctor Wes, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. Doctor Wes

    Doctor Wes New Friend

    Aug 16, 2009
    I'm a wannabe comeback player, returning at 65 after having left the trumpet early in high school. I expect to be flamed, since my question focuses on range, hints at impatience and exposes that I don't have a teacher.

    The usual practice materials (e.g., Arban, Clarke CS) assume a range to A or higher. I can hit these notes unreliably, with lip stress and rapid fatigue. Therefore, it seems to me that I should focus on lip strength in the range of G - C above the staff, so as to be able to work the standard exercises.

    My question is how to do this. Should I concentrate on pushing high notes as hard as I can? My lip is quickly exhausted and good for nothing else. I would appreciate suggestions.

  2. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    I think being honest eliminates a lot of the flames. You'll still get a lot of heat, but at least you're being up-front!!

    In my opinion you haven't earned the range yet, so trying to focus on that right now is off the mark. You're trying to do work on the roof before you even laid the foundation! There are plenty of songs and exercised that can (and should) be played within the staff. Build the foundation first.

    My suggestion is to do anything BUT that. If you're back on the horn for the long haul you need to practice smart. You're not 18 anymore so working on your high register for a few minutes and blowing your lip won't allow your chops to recover/build.

    Take just 1 or 2 lessons with a teacher to get on the right track with a sensible, regular routine and practice LOTS. The range you're talking about isn't really "high', so with a little patience and diligence you should easily be playing there within a few months.

    Best of luck...
  3. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    As a 68 year old who had been away from the horns for over 45 years, just five years ago, I can DEFINATELY relate to your problem. Put your Arbans,Clark, Schlossberg, et al books way for awhile.Start each practice session with very low,[below the staff },extemely soft tones, held as long as is possible, while maintaining TOTAL control of the volume and intonation. This will build lip muscle. I know, it will be boring, but, do it anyway. After this warm up of about 5 FULL MINUTES, which you will increase as your lip builds to about 15 minutes each day. Now it is time to play from a hymnal, only those hymns that are familiar. Later, you will be well served to make the concious effort to sight read the unfamiliar ones. Next is to transpose into concert pitch, those same hymns. When all of this is done to the point that it is all comfortable, your foundation has been built. Get your advanced manuals back out and start building the superstructure. The roof will come later, but, you have to earn the right to climb that ladder.

  4. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Wes - Welcome to TM! We have a great group of returning players here. You should feel right at home. There are a lot of existing threads that will be of help to you.

    As a Comeback player (age 65, 30 years off), I agree with the others. In particular take what OldLou suggests (loooooong, sloooooow. soooooft) and add a couple of things to your daily regimen: (1) After warmup as above, then vary the dynamics of each note (soft to med loud, back to soft making sure that you keep the tone intact all the way; (2) Lip slurs with each valve combination (G up to middle C back down to G down to low C for the open valves, etc, then 2nd valve, 1st valve, 1+2, etc). After a few weeks when you can do this without falling out of any of the notes, then add the next higher harmonic to each series - G - C - E - C - G - C, etc). As you become more solid on the series with the added higher note, then you can add the next one - until you reach the High C capability. It will take some time and effort but it is a way to build your chops and also provides a sense of progress without that artificial goal of being able to force the high notes. And - do all of this with minimal pressure of the mouthpiece on the lips. Between practice sessions, you can read through the many threads here that address such issues as mouthpiece selection, lip placement, oral cavities, tongue placement, and many other factors that will make your head swim.

    P.S. - Why not go to the Introductions and Greetings section and post a bit of background about yourself - and your horn (we all like to oooh and aaah like a proud grandparent looking at a new baby). You will receive a lot of encouraging feedback there.

    Good luck.
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, Doctor Wes!

    Since you now have time to kill, please remember that a half-step increase in range per month equals an octave per year. In a couple years or so you could put us all to shame! Please have fun in the meantime!
  6. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Investigate the James Stamp warmups or the Thompson Buzzing Book or the Reinhardt Routines. They all emphasize that you should only work on the range which is comfortable for you, and they concentrate on the basics, most important of which is air-flow.

    The Stamp and the Thompson books both come with CDs for you to play along with, and I suggest that you do that in order to work on intonation and also to force you to play the exercises at a tempo which will help you. I was aware of those books for years but ignored them because I knew I could already play the majority of what was in them. In thinking that I was totally wrong-headed and stupid (I'll call myself stupid but I won't call other people stupid). While at the ITG convention this past May, I discovered how stupid I had been, and ever since I have been working out of all three, mainly focusing on the Stamp book until recently when I've switched over to the Reinhardt Routines.

    By taking the time (I'm spending about an hour each day only on this material, essentially doing a 1-hour warmup) every day and making sure to work on it every day, even when on vacation (I used a TrumCor lyric stealth practice mute in the hotel and got no complaints), I am playing stronger, with better tone and much larger range, all much easier, than ever before in my life.

    One other very important thought that I learned while working on all this great material -- rest often and some say rest as much as you play.

    So my daily routine is as follows:
    1) Warmup with Stamp book, Thompson book, Reinhardt Routines book (or combination of them);
    2) follow that with one or two lyrical etudes from Concone Complete Solfeggi and/or Bel Canto Book (both edited by John Korak) or Low Etudes by Phil Snedecor;
    3) go do other stuff (my normal work repairing instruments and teaching lessons);
    4) whenever time will allow working on technical etudes and solo literature;
    5) repeat #4 as often as I can during my day, when breaks in my teaching schedule allow.

    I've been following this routine every day since late May and I have whipped my trumpet playing into great shape.

    One more suggestion -- buy lots and lots of music, both solos and etude books. Boredom I have found to be the number one killer of comeback attempts. By books of songs you've always loved as well as solos you may have wanted to play. Get yourself, if at all possible, to a big music store and see what's out there these days. There's an incredible array -- find music which will be easy for you to play now, find music that you know will be possible with a little work, and find music which you know will take a lot of effort to get close to sounding good on.

    And work on some of each kind every day.

    In closing I'll second Vulgano Brother's closing remark -- Have fun!
  7. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Don't worry about your range, just practice as much as you can without pushing lips to the state of exhaustion, rest often , rule of thumb rest as long as you play,say about 5 min.s on, then 5 min.s off, you can play out of Arban's or anything else you want ,just play the notes you can ,and skip the notes that are too high for now, you can always drop those notes or passages down an octave.Warm up with long tones, lip slurs, arpeggios, and scales, all played very softly.
  8. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    I would recommend a Teacher if you really want to improve. Someone who will start you out right. In reallity you are beginning again. So you should approach it like a beginner. Something like a beginning method like Standard of Excellence for trumpet. You came get them with a demo CD.
  9. johnande

    johnande Pianissimo User

    Jun 3, 2009
    western Wyoming
    Welcome to TM, Doc Wes... As another comeback player (51 year layoff; age 73+, 6 months into comeback) I feel that I must put in my two cents worth... Initially I would agree with the comments of the youngsters above, particularly Old Lou, the Comeback Kid and Al Innella. I would also emphasize the comments of DHBailey and Vulgano Brothers -- have fun!!! Most of us retired comback players don't expect to ever perform on stage again -- we play for our own enjoyment, but at the same time we would like to reach whatever performance levels we are capable of at our respective ages. We must recognize and accept the limitations imposed on us by age, lifestyles, medical conditions, etc and realize that these things sometimes delay our progress and limit our ultimate playing ability. The bottom line is that our expectations must be realistic before we can really enjoy our comeback years. That said, I would suggest that you play what you enjoy playing while trying to achieve good breath control and good tone -- range, dexterity, embouchure strength, improvisational ability will come. A youngster like you should have 10-15 good years ahead to improve, then you can coast for a few years... JA
  10. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.

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