Throat pinches/tension when i play high notes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by lking28, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. lking28

    lking28 New Friend

    Dec 22, 2009
    I've started back playing the trumpet after a long lay-off. My fingering and tone are back, but when I try to play high notes, my throat seems to constrict my airflow. I'm trying to push from my diaphragm. Any suggestions would help.
  2. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Welcome, Iking28, to Trumpetmaster. You are in a very elite group on this site - the comeback player's club. As the unofficial welcoming committee for that group, I want to let you know that we are all in the same boat - that is, trying to figure out how to recapture that former glory that we all have in our memory banks (even though no one else that we know has any memory of that former glory).

    There are some excellent instructors here that may have some suggestions for you (I am not one of them - I am still climbing the 'comeback hill') but the most common suggestion - and the one you need to consider - is to find a local instructor who can see, touch, and hear as you play to see firsthand what the issue is. All that can come online (from here or anywhere else) is a broad, general idea of what to try. This sounds like something that you need to get a handle on right away and a real human sitting across from you is your best bet. Good luck.
  3. lking28

    lking28 New Friend

    Dec 22, 2009
    Glad to be a member of the CBPC !! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a local instruction in the Durham, NC area. I've been playing with a Big Band, 4th trumpet, which doesn't require many high notes. Most of the trumpet players in that group are good players but aren't the best instructors :(..
  4. rbdeli

    rbdeli Mezzo Piano User

    May 8, 2009
    I've had the exact same problem - a few times over.

    Now, I've learned the trick. The solution is to not rush the upper register. When my throat is pinching and tickling when I try to reach the upper register, it's because I still have not mastered the notes below. My brain is trying to do something my body is not quite ready for. The reason this is happening is because you used to be able to hit those higher notes, right? Your brain knows them, but your body doesn't. You're forcing it.

    Patience is needed. Getting your lower register as open and fluid as possible is the key. Open up the lower register and don't push the higher notes until everything below them is open, relaxed and easy. You just gotta be patient. It's that simple. You'd be surprised at how much easier the higher notes get as you learn not to rush them and work on making a big, open beautiful sound in the lower register.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Do a search on "daily routine" or "Circle of Breath" here and you will find a VERY easy solution.

    Some basic anatomy: the throat is actually pretty stable and can't "pinch off". The diaphragm can't push it can only pull. Pushing is done with the same muscles that we need when we are constipated - very often with the same results. The trick is to approach playing from the very beginning with a "low impact" approach. Especially at the beginning, playing is not much more than exhaling. Patience, low impact, many repetitions is the best advice that you can follow. You don't beat yourself up, your playing is centered, you give yourself ample time to do the job right.
  6. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Another thing to keep in mind is that high notes come with time and are the result of proper air-speed blowing through supple lips which have gotten into shape properly and thus vibrate easily at whatever frequency you're trying to play.

    Be careful not to try to play too high too soon -- be patient as you work your way up gradually, following exercises discussed in the threads Rowuk mentions.
  7. lking28

    lking28 New Friend

    Dec 22, 2009
    Thanks for the input guys! I'll check out the threads mentioned.

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