Range Problems

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    I've tried looking acrossed the internet for other issues like mine but it came up with too much stuff so I had to find a forum to post on.

    The problem I am currently having is that my range will not increase at all. I've been playing the b flat trumpet in school since 6th grade and will be in 10th grade this next year. Currently the highest I can reach is the "A" above the staff or sometimes "B" right when I start playing. I'm also fine with low notes and the notes I can reach comfortably with tone quality and support. Recently I have been practicing anywhere from 20minutes - 1h 15minutes a day. (occasionally I wont play for a day though). I have a "floating jaw" and when I play, I play slightly to the left of the center of my mouth. My teeth are perfectly straight from braces, (all done with those), and when i play my lips seems to be at a diagonal down to the right. It seems like it is because my lips are folding over eachother when I play when one goes left and the other right.

    Now I know I don't have a pressure problem at all from pushing the trumpet to my face, but my range seems to be lost in 5-10 minutes of playing to where anything above the top space "E" is hard or impossible unless I stop and relax my lips some. (goes back to being hard after about a minute of doing that)... It seems like I may have a problem though with my lips pushing too hard on the trumpet ( not the other way around but is that possible?). After those first 5-10 minutes my lips are already decently swoolen to where you can easily see the ring and they are pushed out slightly. Now its nothing terribly bad looking like I'm damaging them but I think it is why the range is lost.

    Another thing that is bothering me is that I have been doing lots of lips slurs various ways and trying to work the muscles in my lips alot while I am practicing. I still do other stuff but the lip slurs + specific range work is normally about 1/2 my practice. Even after this my range does not seem to go up at all.

    About 5 months ago these types of things were working and my range was higher then it was now but about 3-4 months ago I quit using the trumpet and was playing an E flat Alto Horn for All Star Brass Band for all my practice which has a definitely bigger mouthpiece. After this I quit that instrument and it was hard to get back on the trumpet but after I did I slowly got my range back to where it is now but it seems to be capped out. Before that I got it to where it was slightly uncomfortable and not perfect but I could play an "A" above the staff even after playing for a bit.

    I know if I don't put this someone is going to say AIR IS THE KEY for range, and for my playing the higher notes do seems to be a little less supported by air, however if I try to put anymore air into it, it will make my notes go down. (From separating my lips from all the air?)

    Hopefully this is enough information for anyone out there that wants to read all this and give any help. Any help is appriciated and if you have anymore questions about my playing please ask if it will help you help me.

    (I was in Jazz band 9th grade and this year I'm going to do Jazz Band and Marching Band)
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2009
  2. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    It's virtually impossible to diagnose over the internet ,what you are trying to explain with out seeing you in person, the best advice I or any one else could give you is to get a private teacher before things get any worse, even if you take only a few lessons to set you on the right path it's worth it.
  3. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    I was afraid you would say that...Thanks though. I'll look into lessons.

    Still open to any other ideas if anyone has them :/
  4. Phil Kersh

    Phil Kersh Pianissimo User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Provo, Utah
    First off, welcome to TM, John. Where to start...I would suggest a couple of things. I know you're going to get some great advice from everyone else, so whatever you do, pay attention to the posts and you should be in good shape. One of the most important aspects of playing is warm-ups and warm-downs. This allows your lip muscles a chance to get stretched out and ready for more rigorous playing. Whenever I see a young musician who is complaining of swollen lips, it's mostly because they are pushing themselves too hard, too fast. As I was taught long ago, your muscles need plenty of blood to stay fresh and strong. When you try to play too hard, you typically use too much pressure. That pressure cuts off the bloodflow and without that you loose the oxygen your lips need for endurance. Just think of how hard an athlete has to work on conditioning before the coach lets him actually work on fundamentals and then the actual game. Then, when you're all done working out (playing as a musician) it's always appropriate to warm-down the muscles so they can regain their strength and be ready for another workout the next day or so. I hope this makes some sense. If you approach playing like you would a workout, what you do before and after is as important as the actual playing.
  5. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    I agree, private lessons are the way to go. If you want to improve go to someone who has been there, done that.
  6. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Thanks to both of you. I could be alot better about warm-ups/warm downs...I never even considered a warm down before.
  7. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    More air is not always the secret to playing high. Controlling the air is much more important. Once you learn to control and direct the air you will find that playing high will come easier. I also have to second the motion to get a good competant teacher.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Pssst! Practice really quiet for a week, then try the high notes.
  9. Pseudonym

    Pseudonym Pianissimo User

    May 23, 2009
    Your lips swell up and react after only a few minutes of playing above the staff? Well first of all, it's most likely not your setup however it is good to know how you're playing, haha.

    To achieve my high range, and I can play High G all the way to Double G (I'm aiming for a Trip C by the end of '10!), I've only really used one method. This year I had to take over Lead in my school's jazz band because the lead player got her tonsils taken out and could only play lower notes. Also, she didn't like playing Lead and handed it off to me whenever we got new charts anyway. At this point of the year, I could only hit High C on good days, and with quite a bit of effort. The main point of my exercises for range are this:

    You'll be playing these super high notes (High G+) for probably less than five minutes during an entire piece, so why not play easy notes for half an hour straight? Concert F for a lengthy period of time. Take a break. Concert Bb for a lengthy period of time. Take a break. Concert F (sitting on the staff) for a lengthy period of time. Take a break. Start with five minutes every day on these three notes. Each day, add a minute. When you get to being able to play for 20 minutes on each note, taking ten minute breaks (an hour and a half total), you should be able to hit higher notes with relative ease. Your lips won't have gotten tired as easy, since they're used to playing notes similar for longer periods of time, etcetc.

    You should always remember to do this as soft as you possibly can. Do it while the TV is on, make sure you can still hear the TV while playing very softly. Do these every day and you should have no problem at all hitting that High C! :)

    Anyway, these days I'm doing this exercise about an octave higher than what I just described but I wouldn't condone this by any stretch. If you don't do it correctly, and actually listen to how you're playing, you can easily destroy all your work. I will actually sit there and listen, feel, and memorize notes based on playing them for twenty minutes+ straight. It takes dedication, but I plan on hitting that Triple C - and being able to do it over and over in a gig. (;
  10. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Thanks. I'm going to have to try playing quieter. 1 person pm-ed me and had that as a range building technique too. It's kind of odd though because when I think of getting a higher range I think of having better lip muscles and playing quieter doesn't seem like it would focus on that as much as air control and other aspects. Well, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about but thank you guys. I'll try it. :-)

Share This Page