Need Help with Range for Pep Band

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Edvard22, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. Edvard22

    Edvard22 New Friend

    Jun 28, 2010
    Hi all,

    This year I'm an engineering freshman at Boston University and to take up my spare time and continue in music I decided to join the campus pep band and play at the hockey and basketball games on campus. So far it has been the most rewarding experience I've had at school, the highlight of which was playing at a sold out Madison Square Garden last weekend (BU may have destroyed Cornell at hockey, but everyone was there to hear the band right?). Anywho, transitioning from playing quiet and technical classical tunes to blasting out Shipping Up to Boston as loud as possible has been a little more difficult than I expected.

    Bottom line? I'm comfortable up to a B above the staff, and I need to be comfortable up to an E above the staff. (please don't crucify me for using the wrong terminology here). If I try for anything above the B any one of three things will happen: 1. the trumpet says no and the note just doesn't happen, 2. I can hit the note for a second but it immediately goes flat and peters out, or 3. The note just cracks and instantly disappears.

    If somehow it helps in diagnosing my problem, I noticed that oddly enough I seem to have better luck with my deeper mouthpiece (equivalent to about a 3B) than with the shallow mouthpiece I picked up to experiment with a while back (equivalent to about a 3D or 3E)

    I know the unanimous answer here will be more air but I'm sure as most of you know that is easier said than done. No matter how hard I try and blow or no matter how tight I make my core to get the air moving faster the notes still come out thin or not at all. Unfortunately I do not have access to private lessons while I'm at school so I am appealing to the experts here for some sort of practice routine to build up my higher register because nothing I do seems to work. I understand the general concepts at work here, but I need some sort of routine to set myself to so I can start seeing some sort of noticeable improvement. I just need better practice methods than trying for high notes until the muscles quit and then playing lower notes until they quit even more. My eventual goal is to be able to rip the high note in "Take on Me" without sweating, but right now Ill settle for a confident C above the staff at the end of "Shipping up to Boston". I want to be able to scream with the other lead players instead of just supporting them. (For god's sake our best screamer smokes like a chimney and somehow still manages to rip up to a F or even a G..)

    Thanks for your time! Unless you went to BC. ;-)
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Ed, I'm not sure how to tell you this, but the bottom line comes down to a few things:

    1.) This isn't going to be an easy fix - you'll need an instructor an/or chop doc to diagnose and prescribe things to get you to that level
    2.) It's most likely not going to happen quickly
    3.) It may not happen at all

    I've played and gigged trumpet for a long time, (32 years playing, 25+ years gigging) and in all that time, true altissimo playing has eluded me. I can jam Cs, Ds and even the occasional Eb all night, but as soon as you get to E, you are stepping up to another partial, and that little half step is the dickens to overcome.

    I had some success playing like that when I was in the Latin band - I routinely played things up to G and an occasional G# on one tune we did, but it was experimental using an anchor-toungue setup and it wasn't exactly reliable - I'd miss about 35% of the time. For those who think that's a horrible percentage, yeah, it probably was but in the context of that situation, I was using that particular Latin band as a test tube for chops development and experimentation, and for that gig, accuracy was nice, but it wasn't paramount, and also keep in mind, that 35% miss percentage wasn't for the whole gig - it was just on those occasions when I was going for something not necessarily written - my hit/miss percentage was much much higher over the course of the whole gig.

    In any case, in my current gig where that hit/miss percentage is a bigger factor, I've got a few written Es and Fs in the book and while I "can" hit them, I'm not exactly what I'd categorize as a true lead player.

    My advice to you, if you really want to step your chops up to that next level, is to find a teacher and prepare to put in some serious practice toward an embouchure change, and expect that it just may get worse before it gets better.
  3. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    Use the search function, the advice is always the same in these situations.
    1. Consistent daily practice to build a solid foundation of strength and endurance. Clarke, Arban, Schlossberg, etc...
    2. Very soft long tones (some guys like the "pencil trick" to build corner strength)
    3. Flexibilities. Even and steady is more desirable than fast and sloppy. Irons and Colin

    All that is just general fitness for me, and range specifically I like to do a few exercise
    1. Chromatic scales. Soft. Up and down. I start on middle C to High C and go up by half steps. You can start lower (Maybe G) and build up. I do them trying to make the top tones not any more forcefull than the bottom. I want a clean and even sound up and down. Down is important. I do them slow.
    2. Upper register flexibilities... some I made up, some from the back of the Colin book. the descending part is important.
    3. I do an 8VA Vincent Chicowicz exercise (High C-down to G-up to E down to High C up to G down to E up to DHC... then descending to low C in the same manner. I do this starting on A (1-2 valves) then Bb (1st Valve), B, then DHC. I hold the top tone. Controlled descending the hardest part for me. I over relax and flub it.
    4. Arpeggios through valve combinations. (ex.. Start on top line F, then ascending Bb, D, F, High Bb... and if I feel frisky the DHD. Hold it, then descend the same way. Accuracy in chaning the tones and making to top tones FAT is my goal... stop where you need to, but the goal is to stretch your legs and build new strength. So, maybe it's low F-Bb-D-F-Bb(below high C)-then stretch for the D and back down. The key is that it is all one phrase. One embochure set, One Airstream. DO it through the valve combinations. (1-2-3, 1-3, 2-3) etc... Lower ones are good for building up.
    5. Fourths and Fifths interval "punches". My neighbors hate this one! I do a long loud note on beats 1-2-3 off on 4 then a killer punch on the and of 4.
    Ex... High C then F! C# then F#! D then G!! On up as your strength will let you. Same thing with 5ths. I am working on power and accuracy of the interval. No flub. But.. no grease or kiss off (those hide problems). Just pure power...

    Other guys like to do octave glissandos for range work... but I don't do them.

    You will have to have some sense and learn what you can and can't do. The worst thing you can do it try too much. I don't do range work every day. I spread out my sessions all day long. I get plenty of rest. I am never in "the red zone". When I start to feel a little cooked I just put the horn down and come back in an hour. You have to build up strength over time. If I was your teacher I'd say that there is nothing you can do that will help you this season... but when you come back next fall the other guys are going to say "Holy Crap!"

    The strength you have today was built over the last 12-24 months. The same is true for a year from now.
  4. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Spend some time in front of a mirror and watch your chops as you get ready to play. I'm betting you have your lips apart before you apply mouthpiece pressure, and that is deadly for high chops. To bring the chops together, purse your lips together as in just before making a "p" sound, then add the mouthpiece. Don't move around inside the mouthpiece, just play, and probably the results will suck at first. Play long tones with diminuendo to nothing. If you can do that well, try starting notes with a breath attack at the same whisper level. This is hard work, and will take time.

    For a cheapo "good enough for pep band" solution, don't tongue the first note of licks, just use an air attack, and later, in case you want to be good, start them with a "pooh" attack before later adding the "Tü."
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Yep - they pretty much said this:

    There's no quick fix for chops range and endurance issues.
  6. Clarkvinmazz

    Clarkvinmazz Forte User

    May 11, 2013
    Oberlin, Ohio
    Well I'm sure this is mostly obvious, but make sure y aren't putting too much pressure on your lips with the mouthpiece. In the heat of the moment (and I know we all have done this at some point) you might well be using pressure alone to try to push out those notes, and that does more harm then good. Make sure your tongue is becoming more arched in your mouth, and what I do for range building is clarke studies up an octave, as high as I can. Not for too long, maybe at the most ten minutes, otherwise you'll just blow out your chops for the rest of the day. Good luck, and I hope you succeed.
  7. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Stop doing this.

  8. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Your lips may be swelling a bit and that's why the really shallow mouthpiece doesn't work for you. Sometimes, going a little more narrow on the cup will help, but I'd recommend buying the green Schlossberg book and working it, paying strict attention to the dynamic markings. Not a quick fix, but you may see results faster than you expect.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  9. Clarkvinmazz

    Clarkvinmazz Forte User

    May 11, 2013
    Oberlin, Ohio
    Not to be annoying but in case you want to buy the book, it's schlossberg. (No offense to you dale)
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    First of all, trumpets don't say no... and if by chance you ARE actually hearing your trumpet say no, come see me... I believe I have medication for you.

    It may be more a no no mouthpiece not letting you get air flow into the horn as you reset you embouchure to play higher notes.

    This is because your embouchure has yet to develop to let it happen. As most people here have said, this takes time. This takes practice. Take 15-20 minutes initially out of a practice session to do range building exercises. I recommend Cat Anderson's original method book.

    Ditto as just stated above.

    Welcome to our club of trumpet playing mortals. [exception being Kingtrumpet, he is impmortal]

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