Range in Relation to Endurance

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tristanhurd, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. tristanhurd

    tristanhurd New Friend

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    Hey, I'm a college trumpet player and was wondering if anyone can help me with a strange range phenomenon.

    I have had range up to an E for about 6 years now. However there is a barrier that I cannot seem to cross at F. I gain more and more consistency and endurance up high every year but gain zero range. I play in a R&B/Blues band and am to the point that I have cutting Es with a good full tone at the end of an hour long set without struggling or forcing. However, Fs are still virtually non-existant.

    Can anyone explain why the very peak of my range is now usable, but my range hasn't increased for years? I've had people tell me it might be my horn, but I doubt that's the problem. Other players have no trouble with Fs and above on my setup.

    Thanks for any feedback!
     
  2. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

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    The short answer is that your upper lip can not vibrate at or above a High F. And it's always the upper lip that is guilty of this. Typically well intentioned teachers have advocated using more upper lip in the mouthpiece but this (while possibly helpful) isn't the proper cure.

    In fact the cure is probably related to the amount of upper lip hanging below the UPPER TEETH. I'd bet money on this actually.

    Usually we see players who lack enough upper lip below the upper teeth cut out around the High D, second ledger line treble clef but it can happen elsewhere too.


    Solution:

    1. Walk over to the mirror and observe where your upper lip hangs relative to your upper teeth while saying the word "Oooh". Most of us have an upper lip which hangs even with or slightly above the upper teeth. This position will give most trumpet players command of all notes up to the High C or so but little to nothing above. The reason you see so many trumpet players with fine tone and technique yet can not play a High F to save their lives.

    2. While looking in the mirror use your index fingers to push your upper lip very slightly lower towards the floor. Just enough to hang an eighth of an inch or so below the upper teeth.

    3. Without using your fingers find the facial muscles responsible for lowering your upper lip as described in "2" above.

    4. Practice dropping your upper lip down while setting your embouchure. Do not change the amount of lip you put in the mouthpiece. Just think about how much hangs BELOW the upper teeth. Practice this way for a few days.

    Voila! Breaks your cut off point in nearly 100% of all cases. The only times I've seen this fail to produce a solid usable High G was when people didn't incorporate the adjustment in their playing. Which means that they didn't try it to begin with.

    In all other cases I've seen 100% success with eliminating cut off points between High C and High G.

    Above the High G?

    That's another matter. But at least with the steps listed above you will get there. Cats who sincerely try this always succeed. They don't often give me credit for it but this does not change the fact that it works.
     
  3. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

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    It sounds like my situation. For like 5 years I could never play higher than an E-flat, but my endurance kept improving. Except that I actually regressed when I played too much at one point and hurt my chops, so now I can only reliably play a high C, but I'm slowly getting better again.

    I have no good advice to give... but I imagine others will say you are not breathing and using your body optimally. Of course, people have limits, too. A solid high E is good. How high can you "squeak" notes?
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Whenever your sound stops at a particular note, mechanical problems are the cause. I have run into too much pressure on the upper lip more than anything else. Many use pressure because it works. It is cheap compensation for a mediocre functioning embouchure/breathing process.

    The pressure could very well be compensation for what Local 357 posted. I have never addressed moving the mouthpiece directly. I generally perscribe a routine that lets the embouchure gravitate to a more efficient state. I need to take another look at this.
     
  5. tristanhurd

    tristanhurd New Friend

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    I cannot "squeak" notes above E. That's why I feel I have an unusual case. Like I said in the original post I have truly solid Es but a definitive range ceiling at F. I cannot squeak an F, but I have a full and usable E.
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    It is not unusual. It is standard procedure. Too much pressure just chokes everything off at a particular note. Works every time. The solution is revolution or evolution. I advocate evolution through babysitting by a very qualified teacher and plenty of (not loud) lipslurs as well as body use training. A big dose of breath support usually doesn't hurt.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  7. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

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    Clearly you're doing something, or perhaps not doing something, but Maggio always prescribed a routine of playing that included starting each breath with mpc up near your nose and moving it down to position, thus bringing the top lip into an eagle's beak to some degree. The key is not using pressure to get there, just move it down gently. The upper lip does have to find a way to vibrate freely and unencumbered, no question. His routine is also geared to optimize the vibrating surface. After I cameback a few years ago, my usable ceiling was around an Eb, and after using this and Stamp exercises, and reducing tension as much as possible, I'm cruising around G and higher. Sure, when tired, things stop working because tension is replacing what was relaxed and easy. You might want to look into it. Roger Ingram's book, Clinical Notes on Trumpet Playing may enlighten you, as well. It's a great read and dispels some rumors about teeth and horns.

    ed
     
  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.

    A second item to consider is that sometimes, when notes just "cut out" at a certain point (not getting wimpier, but simply producing no sound) it can result from a player forming the embouchure after the mouthpiece is placed on the lips. The lips then get "trapped" by the mouthpiece and the aperture is unable to get small enough. Try forming your embouchure first, then add the mouthpiece.

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

    Have fun!
     
  9. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

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    The first thing to look for when diagnosing a high range cut off point is a pinned upper lip. It is always the upper lip and it is always too far above the upper teeth.

    The key to this is the absolute cut out of sound at the High F. This is the major clue.

    Had he been able to squeak a few notes north of this note? Then I'd say perhaps it was a conditioning or other physical issue but not now.

    Just re-read my earlier post to the T and apply the adjustment. Within a few days the F, G and above will squeak. I guarantee it. Water seeks it's own level if allowed to flow.
     
  10. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

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    I am always skeptical about players that have "a strong 'X' all the time... but not even a half step more"

    It sounds like you are acheiving your "strong note" with pressure, and then overblowing to compensate for the increased pressure. This works great... up to a point. Then it quits. There just becomes a point where more overblowing cannot overcome the pressure killing the buzz. Guys like this have a LOUD top note, and that convinces them that they have range. Ask them to play it half as loud and see what they have. Usually nada. They have to overblow or the pressure kills the buzz. that added air makes volume. Good for the ego, bad for the lip (and the ears of your customers).

    Teachers for 100+ years have advocated soft, low volume exercises and flexibility studies to increase range and endurance.

    How far can you get into Clarke #9 on a 3C mpc at mp-mf volume.... with control and musicality, rather than thin tinny straining as range increases??

    Listen to Malcom McNab play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto to hear a guy with COMPLETE control over the whole range.
    Malcolm McNab Tribute Page - The Usual Suspects

    This is NOT what you want to see on your stand at your next recording gig....
    Note the newspaper behind the music... in case he gets bored he'll have something to read. WOW!
    http://www.lastudiomusicians.org/Tchaikovsky-track1.mp3
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011

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