High notes really are a trick.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Local 357, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    It was a post I read yesterday advising someone who wanted more high register to "just practice more" and that's when this idea dawned on me.

    "High notes really are a learned skill. A trick"

    Much like riding a bicycle, you really don't lose them. Nor need to ride the bike much in order to not fall down. If you were a competitive cyclist sure you'd want to exercise and train every day. or almost every day. So I'm not sure that the advice to "just practice more" is all that relevant to learn high notes. Hey I'm just sayin...

    It's been so long since I learned my first High F's and G's (41 years) that I think people like myself and my other peers forget that most of us screwed around with chop settings and stuff first. Then within a matter of weeks we kinda learned the "trick". That was my experience in the game.

    One day I envied that fellow high school kid who could play a solid High D* like he meant it. The next week I was pounding the F and G above his D.

    So I'm not sure that the advice to "just practice more" is all that advisable. Especially if the youngster is prone to over training. And if he does over train? He'll be far worse off for the wear. "Work smart not hard" very applicable to this one.

    Its a trick. Or it often could be so make no mistake about it. Perhaps this is the dirty little secret of the game. That said there are ways of facilitating a way to learn the trick which works for you.

    Not surprisingly whenever I discover what i think is a good idea about anything I'm more likely to promote the concept. Probably to the exclusion of other ideas people (besides myself) came up with. So of course I suggest those struggling with register do a T/M search on my "ZEV" and "T/STF" concepts. Neither is a trick per se but does allow at least the ability to play notes in excess of High C.

    The trumpet player wishing to play high notes who adapts ZEV and T/STF is like the kid putting on hockey skates: Just because you wear a pair of them won't automatically turn you into Bobby Orr. But at least with them on you will be able to skate on ice.

    Another story/brag share I like to tell concerning how high note production is a "learned skill" and not so much a condition that requires tons of practice is from the mid 1980's:

    I'd put the horn down for some six months for whatever reason I can't remember now exactly. Had no intention of quitting but perhaps the new business I was starting pulled me away from the horn for this length of time. then one day an old college trumpet playing buddy of mine from marching bland came by to talk old times. I told him I hadn't blown a note since last September.

    "Betcha lost yer chops" he says.

    "I don't think so" I replied.

    There then followed a bet over five bucks that I could pull the horn cold out of the case and nail some high note accurately without any warm up. Just getting the lips wet and blowing the note. He suggested a High C. I told him that note was too easy and that I had a better than 50/50 chance of nailing the F above C dead on. He scoffed that it was impossible after a five month lay off. We then went on to describe what was meant by "dead on" accurate. That it meant nailing the note without hitting even the slightest note above or below.

    With that I wet my lips on cold chops and cold horn and popped out the High F perfectly. At good volume too.

    Being a nice guy I forgave his debt of the five bucks.

    So if it is a "learned skill"? Probably best that the younger kids not push themselves too much. The reason i like to suggest those slightly shallower user friendly mouthpieces. He who practices high notes the most without over training or undue arm pressure is the character who learns the quickest.

    But it is a trick. So my experience says. The reason that to this day i like to experiment with alternative embouchure settings. helps put me back in the mind of that same 15 year old kid who learned to play high notes so long ago.

    *This peer in school was using a real scream piece too i might add the Al Cass 3x4 I own of these today and it isn't my shallowest piece either.
  2. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    This week my playing changed from "acceptable high f on a good day" to "screaming high g"..it really does seem like once you get everything coordinated, and are careful about your playing habits, it just clicks o.o (on my 13a4a)
  3. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    I think it varies from player to player / embouchure to embouchure. For me, once I went through an embouchure change it was a steady progression all the way up. I never really gave too much thought to high notes - they just came on their own.

    On the other hand I know people who can blast high C/D's all day long but can't play an E with fresh chops to save their life.... I really don't understand this, but I'm sure they probably just haven't managed to figure out the "trick" yet as it relates to their specific way of playing.

    I've never heard of ZEV or T/STF but I will definitely take a look!
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  4. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Its like i said: Everyone likes to promote the discoveries that came up with and ZEV & T/STF are mine. However if anyone can play a solid High C/D but not much of anything above?

    Those two abbreviated concepts will cure their lack of high register problem. Especially the ZEV. Sometimes within minutes. At least to ACCESS those notes in practice. Using them on the band stand is another matter. Takes time and experience.
  5. amzi

    amzi Forte User

    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    I would love to disagree with you, but my experience only reinforces your observations. "F" and "G" aren't a problem, but getting above there has become one--I've "forgotten" the trick I used to use, to be fair it's been a couple of decades since I needed one so I just quit playing up there. Once in a while I forget what I'm doing during practice or a gig and just soar up to that clean/ crisp DHC, and once there I can hit it over and over again. I try to remember the embouchure set, even how I'm standing or sitting and how I'm holding the horn, but the next day when I try to find the note again I almost invariably discover that I've lost it. Not that I really need it any more for the style of music I play I rarely play higher than a high "C", but I long for what I used to do. Plus it's an ego thing, as every trumpet player knows.
    Also, like you my range really isn't shot after I've had a lay off--my endurance may suffer, but my range (up to that "G") I tend to maintain.
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    They are. Abracadabra!
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    "Today's squeak is tomorrow's high note"
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2012
  8. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    That is so true and, IT ONLY COMES THROUGH PRACTICE! C'mon guys, there' no trick to high notes except learning that little almost imperceptible movement that gives you that sound you're/we're looking for and that only happens when you are practicing. Endurance in the upper register only comes through practice. Learned skill? ABSOLUTELY! But you can only learn it when you're practicing! ;-)
  9. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    It can't be found by seeking, but only seekers will find it.
  10. watchguy44

    watchguy44 Pianissimo User

    Jul 10, 2010
    Practice , Practice, Practice. Gettiing the lips used to vibrating and pushing air at different velocities .....and lip flexibility. Mouthpieces make a difference too.:grouphug:

Share This Page