Squeaking Certain Notes - Able to hit above and below them?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Tyler S, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. Tyler S

    Tyler S New Friend

    Jul 29, 2014
    Hello TM,

    This is my first post here since I've just found the site as of two days ago.

    I'm a returning trumpet player who hasn't played since middle school. You could almost say I'm a new player aside from the fact I played 3 years total and went to all-state back then. I and a bunch of my other friends quit when a new assistant band director joined the program and took over our side of the band. I'm now in my 2nd year of college and returning. Better late than never, right? I've grown a strong love for music and wanted to pick my trumpet up again. Since this May, I've been taking lessons as well as playing each day for an hour or two. I've slowly progressed from not knowing what note is what to being able to hit a steady A over above-the-staff G. I'm hoping to join a huge marching band program at a college I'm transferring to. After that, I eventually hope to possibly work up to jazz play 2 years from now.

    Fast forward to the point: During practice with my instructor Monday and on Tuesday night when I got home from work I squeaked and couldn't land a E/E sharp/F on the top of the staff. The only way I can describe the sound is my trumpet was trying to hit both above and below the note I aimed for, but could never hit that note so it sounded completely awful just erratically blasting the two notes out inconsistently. This was over taking breaks after that for 1-2 hours and trying again, and so on for about 4 sessions total Tuesday. At the same time, I could land everything up to the E and everything F sharp and above, including an A above the staff. Any ideas why? I've been practicing more consistently each day since the marching band auditions are coming up near immediately and I want to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again. Auditions are in two days so I'm hoping to get everything cleaned.

    Does anyone have any ideas why this would happen?

    In addition, if you have any advice on working up speed with playing 8th notes, some slurred, some not, that would be great as well. Think 8th notes in cut-time at moderato-allegro(120bpm) for an idea of what I mean.
  2. Bwanabass

    Bwanabass Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 20, 2013
    Syracuse, NY
    It sounds like you need a rest. When I hit the wall like that, I have found that putting the horn down for a day or so will help me recuperate and get back to productive practice. For developing accuracy and eventually, speed, try the Clarke Technical Studies and Arbans books. That's what's working for me...
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, Tyler S!

    Regarding the F, it may be something like a leaky cork on the water key.

    As far as tonguing, do lots of it, but never faster than you can play.
  4. Tyler S

    Tyler S New Friend

    Jul 29, 2014
    Thanks for posting.

    I did think that was it and I played for 15 minutes yesterday and only went from a pedal C up to A mid-staff, mostly staying G and below to give my lips some rest. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't doing anything wrong embouchre-wise or that I might repeat it right as I needed my lips to be at their best.

    As far as Clarke's and Arban's books go, I will definitely check those out! I've only studied with a warm-up, some college-level music, and Cichowicz studies up to now.

    Vulgano - it may be. I used to play on a student Yamaha but my instructor sold me an old Pan Am 66b he used little and doesn't need anymore. I did try playing on my Yamaha as well though and the notes still squeaked. Perhaps it was rest? I can look at taking care of the corks on the water keys regardless when I get them both chem cleaned. They need it.

    Yeah, the first two eighth notes are slurred then there are two tongued quarter notes followed by two eighths slurred again with 3 more eighth notes connected to those but tongued. It really is just out of my comfort level playing that fast right now. I think I know what it feels like, though. I find I can play a lot faster than I used to and sometimes, on certain note patterns, the fingerings just happen without me thinking about them or trying to make them happen. Same with improving range, I used to try way too hard to hit higher in the register. I'm slowly getting closer to a C without meaning to so I think the key is just a lot of practice and focus to make those practices worthwhile.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    To me it sounds like too much pressure and a too powerful tongue to overcome that.

    I start my students with long tones just exhaled into the horn - no tonguing. The theory is that when we learn to support the tone with just our breathing, the lips can gravitate to their most natural position. This prevents us twisting our embouchures into shape to "hit" higher notes. After the long tones work, we add lipslurs -also with no tonguing at the beginning. This promotes the contracting and expanding of the lips.

    When our embouchure is clamped off by pressure (a fixed setting), we only have the option of "kickstarting" our sound with hammerblow tonguing. Then our range stops at a specifig note and we have control issue.

    My suggestion is not less practice, rather smarter practice. Long tones, lipslurs and a bunch of easy tunes like out of the hymnbook. The first two with no tonguing at all -just exhale the notes! Take a glass of tapwater into your practice sessions and take a sip when you notice tension. Try practicing after a shower. The body is relaxed and that promotes better breathing and a more relaxed exhale.
  6. Tyler S

    Tyler S New Friend

    Jul 29, 2014
    Thanks! I've got a warm up that my instructor has made for all of his students and himself when he doesn't do one of the ones he keeps in his head. The first 3 pages of it are long tones, scales, and then scales in eighth notes. Instead of tonguing those, I will slur them as I start off my practice. A good 10-15 minutes of that should help.

    Since I have rested, the issue has improved and I can hit my notes again but I do notice tension and it sometimes happens as I move into that same range when playing eighth notes at 156bpm 4/4. I think practicing repeatedly(rehearsing) at that tempo and speed is what may've caused the issue in the first place. I'll start working on relaxing more as well; I didn't really think about that. Thanks again.
  7. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    I'd go with the wise words of Rowuk, Id also add to check you are supporting your sound with good deep relaxed breathing, search for circle of breath, and do your self a quick self check using "the basics sheet , both available on here. You probably needed the rest for your chops tp recover having used too much pressure, now you need to "practice smart" so you don't do it again.

    hope that helps

  8. limepickle

    limepickle Piano User

    Aug 30, 2013
    Dallas, TX
    If I'm reading you correctly, it sounds a lot like the type of problem you have
    when your lips are exceedingly chapped or when there is just dead lip tissue that
    hasn't come off. Are you getting a really shrill tone out of the higher notes and some
    fuzz on the lower notes? I've had days when my lips just don't respond because
    they became too dry somehow (wind, salty food, etc.), and on rare occasions,
    it can take 15-20 minutes of warming up before the sounds and notes come back
    to normal. And there's always one note that doesn't respond at all that finally comes
    back to normal. I could be completely misreading your situation, but if not, your resting
    sessions may be ill-advised in this case. Try to keep playing continuously for a while
    until the notes start coming back close to normal.

    The exercises that Rowuk recommended will work well for this even if yours turns out not
    to be a problem of form as he diagnosed. They are standard exercises that will help to alleviate
    conditional problems like lip flexibility from chapped lips (lip slurs especially).

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