High Notes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by B15M, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I am convinced that there is a trick to playing high notes.

    I practice every day (Just about) and have a decent range. I can play up to F above high C.

    I watched a video of Adam Rappa popping off high notes with no effort. Now I know what you are going to post. He is a pro that has worked on it for years. True enough, but, he used very little effort and purposely contorted his body to show, I forget what. The point is, no effort, very little air.

    My daughter used to play the trumpet. Every now and then she picks it up again. Yesterday I was practising and she came in the room to talk. She took out her trumpet and played up to F above high C with know problem. How can this be?

    She and I worked on changing my embouchure so I could hit high notes. I could squeak them but it messed up everything else.

    I have a gig tonight and then nothing for a while. I think tomorrow I'm going to mess with it.
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    The formation of some people's mouths are more naturally suited for high note playing. When I was in college my trumpet teacher was also the local high school band director and one of his high school students had an accident with his bicycle where he chipped one of his two front teeth. After that he was able to play really high with good tone and great volume because he was able to direct his air into the gap created by the chipped tooth and it increased the venturi effect to increase the air speed.

    My son tells me one of the current high note specialists used a screwdriver every day for a long period of time to force his front two teeth apart slightly for the same purpose.

    Your daughter's mouth may just be more naturally suited for high notes while you may be like the vast majority of us and have to work long and hard to get a decent upper range.

    Whatever you do, be very careful of several things:
    1) don't force it at all -- keep pushing yourself but when you feel strained or that your lips are tired, stop and either take a long break before continuing to practice or wait until the next day.
    2) work up to the high notes gradually -- they will come but it takes time for most of us. Sometimes it's a very long long time. Patience is very important.
    3) don't screw up your embouchure just to get the high notes -- you should be able to use the same embouchure you use on the lower and middle registers to get the high register -- it's air-speed, not lip contortion that will get the most musical results.
  3. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    That sounds quite scary :shock: to me. I think that it has more to do with NickD's high gear.
  4. Veldkamp

    Veldkamp Piano User

    Mar 29, 2004
    the Netherlands
    I believe the most important factor in playing the trumpet is the mental part. Trumpet players always think to much about things they shouldn't think about. Stuff like "how is my embouchure today", "I have to play a high note at the end of a tutti", etc. etc.

    This all builds up tensions. Tension with breathing, tension in the lips, etc.

    When your daughter pics up the trumpet, she doesn't think about those things, she just wants to have fun and plays whatever she likes...:play:

    When I'm playing the trumpet (and I think it's the same for Adam Rapa), I'm just focusisng on making great music, not bothered with all the stuff what's going on in our mind and body. Focussing on the music is the best thing to get good results. Bill Adam calls it "goal orientation".

    My advise is not to mess with the embouchure, but start working on other stuff. I can recommend reading the book "Lasting Change for Trumpet Players" from Louis Loubriel, or google "Arnold Jacobs" and "Bill Adam" and read stuff about what they where teaching.

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  5. BenH

    BenH Pianissimo User

    Oct 14, 2008
    I don't want to put words into Mr Rapa's mouth, but as you may be able to tell from my signature, he's someone who I try and learn as much about as possible as, to me, he's the complete modern trumpet player.

    From what I can tell, he's all about relaxation - he makes reference to practicing Yoga, and the importance of correct breathing (despite the quote in my signature!). I believe he used to go through all the body contortions, but actively worked on relaxation in order to improve. It's well worth watching every video of his on YouTube that you can find. Also, if you google Adam Rapa iBrass he gives online lessons. You could do a lot worse than take a lesson from him (one day, I will).

    Hope that helps some.
  6. TrentAustin

    TrentAustin Fortissimo User

    Oct 28, 2003
    Boston, MA
    come on up sometime and hang out. I'll get ya playing a quad C in 9 minutes.


    Seriously, you should come up and hang. IMO playing high is all about playing with the right focus. -T
  7. Veldkamp

    Veldkamp Piano User

    Mar 29, 2004
    the Netherlands
    Relaxation or Yoga has the same purpose as I was talking about. Getting rid of the tensions we don't need for trumpet playing.

    Breathing is very important, but more important is constant breathing. There has to be a constant energy pushing out the notes. In this way the lips will vibrate on the most efficient way. So it looks effortless.

    The videos of Jim Manley on YouTube are very interesting to watch.
  8. BenH

    BenH Pianissimo User

    Oct 14, 2008
    +1 for those videos - I found them very helpful.
  9. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.

    It's a long ride but, I'm free this weekend.
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I have mentioned this before. When the high notes are REALLY in your head, then you will be able to play them. As long as they are "high", you have to reach for them.
    The second "trick" is that you can't go for a big symphonic sound if you want to play high notes like Adam or Patrick do. They switch hats and do not play with the same darkness and breadth of sound.

    if you want the high notes, take 4 weeks off from your regular playing schedule and start playing Clarke and your standard lip slurs up an octave very softly. Do not try and maintain the "big sound" upstairs at the beginning. Let it get thinner the higher you go. Once the synergy starts, your sound will change as will the size upstairs.

    There really is no "magic". Great breath support (I listened to your samples on the web - should be NO problem) and little pressure on the upper lip are what give you the freedom to play higher.

    Just like anything else in life, there is a building process without shortcuts. The players with the best high notes have the most focussed sound.

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