Range exercises for beginning students?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by The Weez, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. The Weez

    The Weez Piano User

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    Dec 23, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    Some of the kids at the junior high school I help out at have asked how to improve their range. They are currently playing a piece that has them play a top-of-the-staff F and they all struggle with it, and half of them can't hit it at all.

    The main thing I've told them is to practice often. I know many of them only play during band (which is about 20min of actual playing time) and don't take their horns home at all.

    As far as actual exercises, I'm not sure what to get them started on. I showed them some simple long tone exersices, and talked to them about the importance of proper embouchure, breath support, and the dangers of using too much mouthpiece pressure. I also talked to them about lip slurs, but I'm not sure what to actually have them play since the stuff that I do myself starts above most of their max ranges.

    Any advice on this is appreciated. :)

    Tim
     
  2. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi weez,
    Building the range can be approached different ways. Since you're dealing with kids, it needs to be fun. Find simple fun songs that can be taken up an octave. Now remember, it needs to be hard but attainable for Jr. High. Make sure they aren't using a bucket full of mouthpiece pressure to increase their range. Hope this helps
     
  3. Jimi Michiel

    Jimi Michiel Forte User

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    Hi Tim,

    I teach about 15-20 beginners each year and by far the best exercise I have found to improve range is the chromatic scale. Many students are frustrated by lip slurs because it's a binary "I can or I can't" result. The idea with chromatic scales is that you can improve by tiny increments each day (or week). Of course, you can also work long tones into that as well.

    As for the other problem... if the kids don't take their horns home and practice, nothing you tell them is going to help them with your range. It's like me asking you why I can't go out and pay cash for a BMW 7 series... I'm lucky that at the schools I teach at, they have locker checks and grades are lowered if your horn is still in your locker after 4PM.

    -Jimi
     
  4. bigdanv

    bigdanv Pianissimo User

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    Jan 13, 2009
    Connecticut
    Chromatic scales are great for range, but it sounds like you're telling them all the right things. If they don't want to practice, there's only so much you can do for them.
     
  5. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    One of the biggest things a teacher can help young students learn to do is keep their aperture still. Most players tend to close the aperture as they ascend and open it back up (or let it relax) as they descend. This causes pinching, fatigue, tuning problems, tone quality issues, and accuracy problems.

    As a player learns to hold their aperture in a small setting (playing softly helps this tremendously) and use the abs to push air speed, their range will grow with little effort or years of struggling.

    Keith Fiala
     
  6. Bach219

    Bach219 Mezzo Piano User

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    Keith, today I was trying to do scales at ppp to increase my range. Well I figured out that I close my lips tighter and tighter as I ascend, it gets pinched and thin and often times it's as if I hit a wall. Using more pressure seems to help sometimes, but then other times it seems that if I use LESS pressure the note will come out too.

    So do you recommend that I do not close the aperture as I ascend and keep it at a, we'll third space C?
     
  7. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Hi Bach,

    Yes, I recommend trying to maintain a "set point" aperture as you ascend. Closing the aperture and / or tensing the lips causes undo strain and pinched sound... that leads to cutting off the sound and can lead to passing out.

    My best advice is to go slow, and vary between ascending scales, slurred octave leaps, and etudes that demand ascending lines and intervals. In time, you'll start to use the air properly.

    Keith
     
  8. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Oops, forgot to add that it's important to just "hold" the aperture in place as you start to push the air faster. Maintaining a small aperture is key to raising the air speed.

    Sorry - I was being called for dinner, and hunger was taking over!

    Keith
     
  9. Bach219

    Bach219 Mezzo Piano User

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    As always, thank you very much Keith!:-)
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Tell the kids that 20 minutes does not allow for building range. Tell them they need at least 30 minutes :evil:

    Plain and simple: 20 minutes does not give you the time to build range, technique and musical skills.

    Yes, lipslurs and longtones help but in small doses cannot build the patterns required for increasing range.

    Aperature discussion are something that I NEVER get into with "younger" players. They have no mechanism to control the weak chops. If they are practicing enough of the "right" things in a monitored "right" way, the embouchure develops correctly and naturally.

    There is no free lunch with the trumpet!
     

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