How should I approach warming up in the upper register

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by coolerdave, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    So about 20-30 minutes into my warmups ... basically half note argeggios , I move from playing in the middle of the staff down to lower register to arpeggios that move up in half steps. I am trying to play at pianissimo.
    When I get to the A above the staff the pitch is flat, no surprise there, and pretty much any note higher than that. So I have the option of giving it a little more air to bring the pitch up or sort of pinching it to bend it up so I can keep the volume down.
    Also, the resonance is pretty much locked in on the lower pitches and relatively effortless ... but when I start getting up there I think I get a little active in the process. The increase air does bring out the resonance as well.
    I know I have to play the notes...well to be able to play the notes... sort of getting reacquainted with the upper register and it is a warmup, I don't feel tight or strained afterwards.
    How do you or how would you have your students approach something like this?
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  2. BustedChops

    BustedChops Mezzo Forte User

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    Take my advice with a grain of salt...as I start playing trumpet playing again after a long time I notice the great saying "use your air" It seems to me that upper register one should not pinch the lips to push out notes but...keep the lips firmer in order to allow a greater compression of air.

    Think of the lips buzzing as pistons of a motor...your firing order should be steady and if all cylinders are not firing properly your efficiency is going to run like garbage. Think of high notes as a diesel engine...the compression of air needs to be greater. Compression of air requires a greater output of air but all cylinders should be firing with equal compression.

    The upper and lower lips are your pistons...They have to fire with a smooth operation. Firming the chops allows the pistons to rev higher when more air is applied. The hard part is keeping the air smoothly running. Nick Drozdoff has a video talking about high gear low gear...it might help.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is to think of the lips as the pistons and the air/lungs as the engine block. It's going to take a lot of fine tuning but once you get your firing order (air velocity) running better the efficiency and work will be less second guessing.

    The trumpet is a miserable and difficult instrument to play. Best of luck. I'm finding myself in your same boat...
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Harry James had a big glass of Beafeaters Gin and a couple of scales.................

    With all of the recent posts on upper octave stuff, I dug out some teaching notes from the past 35 years.

    1) for less experienced players, a warm up provides the short term memory with a sense of pitch - allowing us to "hear" the note before playing. With increased experience we succeed in achieving medium term memory of pitch and the need to "warm up" that part goes down.
    2) for less experienced players, a warm up provides the short term memory with a sense of feeling in the lips - allowing us to "feel" the note before playing. With increased experience we succeed in achieving medium term feeling and the need to "warm up" that part goes down.
    3) for less experienced players, a warm up provides the short term memory with a sense of inflating the lungs - allowing us to "feel" the power before playing. With increased experience we succeed in achieving medium term power and the need to "warm up" that part goes down.
    4) for less experienced players, a warm up provides the short term memory with a sense of timing - allowing us to "anticipate" the entry. With increased experience we succeed in achieving medium term timing and the need to "warm up" that part goes down.
    5) for less experienced players, a warm up provides the short term memory with an opportunity to concentrate. With increased experience we succeed in achieving automatic concentration and the need to "warm up" that part goes down.
    6) for less experienced players, a warm up provides an opportunity to reinforce our insecurity. With increased experience we succeed in achieving medium term confidence and the need to "warm up" that part goes down.

    CD,
    I separate things like daily routine and warmups from the part of playing designed to build new skills. The daily routine is my opportunity to keep standard playing stuff stable. I NEVER EVER stick extreme anything in there anymore. The real issue is the quantity of repetitions that create the indelible images in our brain (see above). Alone those repetitions move skills from the short term memory to medium or long term units that we can recall on demand. These days, my upper register practice is scales and arpeggios, but most of my playing in the upper register is with repertory.

    Maybe a word about what happens when we start doing things right: When we start working on range, pressure between the lips and mouthpiece is normally our friend. We get some extra notes and life is better. If we progress logically, we gradually replace pressure with better breathing, body use and attitude (thanks Local357).

    The pressure method has one very repeatable trait: our range hits a brick wall at a specific note, first a G on top of the staff, then high C or D, then a high F or G. I think it is pretty much impossible to "force" anything above that. When the pressure (especially on the upper lip) goes down, the brick wall goes away. As we play higher, the notes just get thinner. That in turn can be compensated by better breathing. Yes, this means that almost unlimited range is possible for everyone IF we get our body, brain and attitude together and practice enough. Unfortunately, we are not born equal and most do NOT get their body and brain together in spite of whatever attitude happens along. Too many think that getting the body together is enough - the silver bullet of only the right method. Those players are essentially hopelessly lost. It is the INTEGRATION of body, mind and soul though intelligent practice and playing that moves us forward. There is no substitute.

    Amen
     
  4. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    okay ... I probably am blurring the line between warmups and daily routine here. My guess is one set in the major arpeggios actually gets things moving. perhaps not my fingers .. but my chops are good to go.
    The range part .. I get the confidence as success is achieved from proper repetition. This is more about how does it feel when you are playing at pianissimo in the upper register. By pinching I don't mean jamming the mouthpiece in I am refering to trying to play, let's say something between an A and C without pressure. My guess is to do it with breath support ( which right now means louder probably mf) until my embrouchure is strong enough to set on the note. I am not trying to eek out tea kettle notes just up to a C at pp for these exercises.
    Thinking this over ... could a high C be considered extreme at pianissimo?
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
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  5. JNINWI

    JNINWI Piano User

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    Rowuk.....Amen....
     
  6. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    All very true but to answer your question. Range building is a natural process of playing A LOT in the middle and lower registers. For the less experienced player the Arban's book is great for building range through playing exercises that you don't know are building range. At least this is the way I use it with my students. You do have to know how to use it. I also have several exercises that I've written out that help the student approach the upper register by what I call "walking" up to the upper notes. There's a lot more to it that this but that's it in a nutshell
     
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  7. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    just for clarification .. Vizzutti Book 1 .. Long Tone ex 5-8
     
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    I like the Heimat tone concept of Gerald Webster.

    Gerald Webster discovered that when we play a medium high, medium low, medium loud tone on our mouthpiece first thing in the day, the same pitch will come out, our personal "home" tone, or Heimat tone (he discovered this while touring with Edward Tarr in Germany, thus the name). "Personal" means just that, each person has his/her own Heimat tone -- there is no "good," "bad" or "ideal."

    Some players start their warm-ups on c below the staff, then work their way upwards, but that makes any thing above c below the staff a more or less a high note. Rather than starting in the lower register, consider starting at your personal Heimat tone and expanding from there. That gives us the feeling of having more low tones to play, and fewer high ones to struggle for.

    Hard to diagnose things over the internet, so the best we can do is make suggestions for you to experiment with.

    Have fun!
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Coolerdave,

    I would use slurred scales and lipslurs. Let the high notes get thinner (softer)as you go up. DO NOT INCREASE PRESSURE ON THE UPPER LIP.

    The first step is to realize that you already can reach notes above what you think is possible. Once the brain is not in the way (with the expectations of a big sound) and you have reduced the brawn, the notes will come. They then need more breath support as the comfort zone increases.

    No method book can give you high range. There is no specific exercize or etude to "align" the body use, brain, ears, tongue, attitude and embouchure. My journey into the upper register started with oboe concertos. They don't go into the stratosphere, rather require a lightness of touch that replaced testosterone. Playing that range and style opened up my playing above the staff.
     
  10. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    I have bunch to digest here ... thanks for the detailed explainations.
     

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