I've hit a wall at C above the staff...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by mercedes, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    rowuk, you missed my point. I`ve had students who had been playing a while and didn`t have a clue how to form a proper embouchre, and had trouble with range and endurance. I`ve worked with some very fine jazz players who had only a D or Eb above the staff and I know they practiced the right stuff, I myself had problems until I made a change in my embouchre, not a big change but a minor one and gained more than an octave on my range ,your right there is nothing better than smart practice but sometimes it takes something more.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  2. thebugleboy

    thebugleboy Pianissimo User

    Dec 10, 2008
    Deep South
    Good post. The embouchure, remember, is MUSCLE structure basically. A good example of building muscle tone is my friend who, after an accident, refused to ride in the BACK of the ambulance (if you had seen him you would know why noone argued with Big Jim) but rode up front, refused the wheelchair at the hospital, and walked into the ER to find later he had broken BOTH legs. He had such muscular structure, that, at least for a time, he could function even without adequate skeletal support. This is extreme, but a good example. Build your embouchure so that pressure from the mouthpiece rim and teeth is not necessary for you to function. I have known many great old jazzmen who had NO teeth for the MP to press against. And the jaw was just as open as players with full sets. There was just lip. A little work gets maybe some little results, while a steady, intelligent, dedicated, systematic workout will take you as far as you can go.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I think we are on the same page. I guess I haven't had the same exposure to players needing specific correction of the embouchure. My experience has been that getting a stable daily routine brings the all of necessary changes without having to specifically address them. Mostly after a week of playing softly, the students make major strides in posture, breathing and ability to get the tone to "speak". Range is just a nice "by-product".
  4. oldlips48

    oldlips48 Piano User

    Mar 1, 2007
    I am also on the comeback trail. After a year and a half I've gotten my embochure to a point I can play a high D with confidence in a concert.

    Rowuk referred to it, so please let me emphasize it here, about keeping the throat open. I find when I'm staying relaxed and keeping that "open throat" the higher notes come more easily.

    One of the high note exercises I use says to practice the specific high range exercises every other day, as (lip) muscles can use the off day to recuperate. This seems to hold true for me. And practicing at pp helps to get the note "locked in" (I find as I get higher, the slighest variation can throw me off pitch. Makes sense: higher notes, shorter wavelengths, less margin of error). Different individuals are going to have different abilities and different responses to exercises. I think Rowuk is also right in that if more players were diligent in doing the "tedious" exercises that result in higher ranges, we'd have a lot more screamers around.

    Lastly I do believe there is a mental aspect. If you think there is a "wall" at high C, then there will be one. I'm trying to look at high C and above simply as notes that need to be played in the piece I'm working on. No more difficult than getting the sharps and flats right. It seems to be working so far....

  5. bigdog

    bigdog Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2005
    keep practicing every day
    as long or short as you can, or as time allows
    breathing, pedals, long tones, scales,etc. ,the list goes on and on
    don't rush it tho,more damage then good may come out of it
    trust me the range will come along with everything else
    just have fun doing it, you flub a note, move on, there's always the next day
  6. mercedes

    mercedes New Friend

    Dec 3, 2008
    Thanks for all the great advice!! I'll keep working at it!
  7. KJaeger

    KJaeger Pianissimo User

    Oct 27, 2004
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I can't emphasize enough the post that rowuk made, particularly the part about pressure and playing relaxed. I had the same "wall" until I learned to play with a truly relaxed embouchure.

    Some exercises that can help:
    - Can you play with a true lip vibrato? This is not essential, but in order to play a nice pleasant lip vibrato you must be playing in a relaxed manner without excessive pressure.
    - Can you turn the lip vibrato into a lip trill? This is the next step. Try playing softly starting on the middle C in the staff, and try lip trills up to the next partial (e.g. C to E). Then work your way up chromatically through the fingerings. Each step, start with the vibrato and then expand to a trill. The Colin book is great for this as well.
    - Eventually when you can play the trills consistently to the next higher partial, try trilling to the 2nd partial up (i.e. C to G) and work up by half steps
    - If you can't play relaxed to get the vibrato, maybe try lip bends. Start on middle G, play fingering G-F#-G, then bend (without fingering) G-F#-G. Again, slowly work your way up. Listen and try to keep the tone quality consistent through the bend.
    - Pedals help with this as well, but I find one needs to be careful that one is doing them correctly to get the benefits.

    Take it slow, be patient, and play with a relaxed sound and a reasonable volume. If you can play soft controlled lip trills, arpeggios or scales you will find you will make steadier progress.

    Playing high takes balance between more air and stronger embouchure. If you just blow harder, your embouchure will not be sufficiently developed to handle it. That is when you end up using pressure to compensate, and the death spiral begins.
  8. Tammerman175

    Tammerman175 New Friend

    Oct 19, 2007
    The mental aspect is too true for some of us. Last year, I could hit a d above the staff, but it wavered up and down; it was never a solid d.

    But, after I went to a camp in the summer, I saw several guys who had tamed the notes up to high g. I got to see that, for these people anyways, there weren't any barriers at high C.
    This helped me a lot, and I was able to get up to a high E several times after the camp:D.

    So really, one of the most troublesome barriers us trumpeters have is the mental one, not so much the physical, as I used to think.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    My 10 year old students that have been playing a year or so can squeak out Gs above high C. We don't because range is only an issue when we can offer musical content there. As their bodies and minds develop, the rest will simply be there. They do it my way - brain first!
  10. thebugleboy

    thebugleboy Pianissimo User

    Dec 10, 2008
    Deep South
    It's silly to think that women have less ability than a man on an instrument. True, men do have certain advantages and women other advantages in some endeavors, but musical instruments give both a level playing field. Body mass and muscular density have no advantage here. Three years after I competed for and won my scholarship, this pretty little fair haired, blue eyed young lady waxed all the competition. Lucky for me, I already had my prize, or she would have eaten "The Master's" lunch too and brought me down to earth the hard and fast way. She had the range, the tone, the technique, the endurance, and the projection...I personnally witnessed five coats of paint and wallpaper get blasted off the back wall of the concert hall. She went on to direct a high school band. She had much more in her though. She would have fit easily in a tuba case. And she could have blasted her way out with her horn. She's the only other person I know who could fill up my old Constellation 38B with the extra huge leadpipe they installed for me.

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