Throat Closing Up / Upper Register

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Brent McBugler, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. Brent McBugler

    Brent McBugler New Friend

    Nov 27, 2013
    So I am currently trying to build my upper register, but whenever I got higher, even up to G above the staff (which is the tip of my comfortable range on a good day), I notice my throat closing up, very tensely and I can't seem to relax it. I am trying desperately the taa-eee effect to arch the tongue up when going higher, but my throat still closes up, and then once I release myself from the trumpet, I often let out a large exhale. I understand higher notes equal faster air, but that combined with the pressure on the mpc is just hindering me to end, and frustrating me a ton. I get pissed off when practicing because it seems that no matter how I try to relax my throat muscle, it just tenses up and any note above and including, say fourth space E is a pain to reach. I am trying to build my range up to a high C above the staff, at least for now, then build it further later, but that C is my short-term goal. It seems that a large quantity of air is struggling to get through, even though I am arching the tongue, and trying to consciously use my diaphragm to push the air faster. Perhaps I have developed bad habits over the years which never got fixed? I am only a senior in high school, so I'm no pro, by far, but I feel like my range should be at this level by now. I practice long tones, lips slurs, and selected exercises from Clarke Studies two and three daily as a warm-up. With the long tones I go from middle line G all the way down to the low F#, and recently I tried going from middle line G up to the high C above the staff after the first set of long tones.

    Sometimes I have a great day and can screech out the notes leading up to, and including the high C, but not for long, and often tire myself out quickly during those stretches.

    My whole reason for this thread is, however, to ask how to not clench my throat so much when trying to play higher, because it also feels tense and hurts a bit even after I play, often for quite a while after too.
  2. larry tscharner

    larry tscharner Forte User

    Apr 30, 2010
    dubuque iowa
    Brent, welcome to Trumpet Master. I am by no means an expert so take this advice with a grain of salt. You are doing everything right or at least have some good ideas about the top of the air column, but made no mention about the bottom. Be sure you are sitting or standing straight and your stomach is rock hard. Breath support gets you up there better than lip pressure and toung arch and those muscles are larger and stronger to last longer. Having had some previous success with those notes brings confidence which doesnt hurt either. If you are apprehensive going up the scale and "searching" for the note you are probably going to fail. Henry Ford once said "If you think you can or you think you cant, your right." At your age you have only good things to look foreward to and a bit more maturity and some confidence in your ability will go a long way toward getting you a solid C. Hang in there and remember not to try too hard at it, it will come. Best wishes.
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    First thing I would check would be your mouthpiece. Is it clean inside?
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Relax your whole body to start. Longtones, longtones, longtones. I would visualize blowing through horn past the bell. Could / might be youre too focused on your mpc and speeding up the air. Exhale through your horn. My experience is if you do soft soft soft longtones that will help you fix your airflow problem. Again, I'm not there and can't see you.
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Your throat is tensing up because you are tensing up. Inhale for more air support, that tighten abdominal muscles to put pressure behind the air flow. Let that high pressure air flow do the work for you (and blow out the dirt that Vulgano Brother thinks is in your mouthpiece).
  6. Gxman

    Gxman Piano User

    Jan 21, 2010
    This was useful to me. I get that tight throat (like air wanting to go down the tube) which actually hurts. Feels like air gonna go out my nose etc. Anyways, not sure what i did today, i know i made my stomache/abdominals harder, kind of like when someone goes to punch you in stomache and the top line F came out crystal clear and no weird, tight etc feeling.
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    The magic of basic physiology.
  8. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    Brent welcome to TM ---- I concur with most of the above advice ----- and I used to be in your exact situation ----- BUT NOW I AM A KING on high notes (at least up to an octave above the G on top of the staff) ---- but BRENT it came with a price, of time, and of patience, and correct breathing. ONCE you get on top, ((to those of us who are there)), it seems so very easy to tell you to "RELAX". BUT ultimately, you actually have to LEARN how to relax. long soft tones, good air support ---- for some people (I wager most people) this didn't happen overnight ----- hang in there, be patient, and put in the time, to WORK up to that point!!!
  9. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    ps. -- you also have to have a "focused" aperture ----- small opening, with good (fast) air support!!!! loose lips to vibrate around the aperture, but a solid "facial foundation" of muscles to hold the aperture!!!!
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi Brent,
    You stated,
    " It seems that no matter how I try to relax my throat muscle, it just tenses up and any note above and including, say fourth space E is a pain to reach."
    Three things can be at play:
    1. Your horn (and especially the mouthpiece) needs cleaned. So first things first, clean your horn. Let's hope this fixed the problem.
    2. You do not have a good sense of what the note itself sounds like.
    3. It's a projection thing. Try to yell at someone a block away that a flesh eating dragon is about to swoop upon them and yell with the stiff neck that you described. You can't do it!!
    Now, yell again and do it like you normally would. TaDa! No problems!!
    When you play, you must have a target regardless of how small the room is. A target is something to look and play to.
    Something to try: Get warmed up and play a high C. Chances are it sounded pinched and unattractive.
    Now try this!
    1. Print out a 8 1/2 by 10 picture of your favorite sexiest model.
    2. Tape their picture to the back of the wall.
    3. Focus (I really mean focus!) on sending the sound of the trumpet to that picture like a laser beam. Play like you're yelling to them!!
    4. I'm guessing that this should cause quite an impact in your playing.
    The big thing is:
    The throat is made of material that does not constrict.
    We always need to "focus and target" our sound to something (even if it's a baseball or chair) regardless of the volume.
    Hope this helps

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