Tongue level for high notes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by x9ret, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. x9ret

    x9ret Banned

    May 6, 2014
    Hi everyone. Glad my very harsh ban is over. I don't know what I did to deserve that treatment. But I'm willing to let it go.

    Tongue level for high notes.

    I noticed some days I could get notes above high C comfortably. Other days couldn't get them at all. Yet I was in regular practice. Lately I've narrowed down the possibilities.

    Last night I made an important discovery- tongue level.

    1. I was doing the toh, tah, tee fine. It was just that my tee weren't high enough. When I exercised my tongue without the instrument or mouthpiece, simply singing an 'eeh' as high as I could in falsetto voice, then trying high notes on the trumpet... I noticed an improvement.

    2. Many years ago I had a lesson from a trumpet pro who said he anchored his tongue on his bottom teeth to push his tongue up more at the front to get the high notes.

    My discovery last night is that option 1 is preferred as then the 'eeh' notes can run into F or G above the stave with an 'eeh' and are more controlled notes.
    Option 2 I've found more useful when doing some wild jumps from low to high. But when trying to nail particular notes this option seems risky to me.

    I wonder if you have similar experiences or would like to share your thoughts?

    I'm not sure whether to switch to option 2 when reaching G or A just below the high C. It would feel like cheating!
    bumblebee likes this.
  2. x9ret

    x9ret Banned

    May 6, 2014
    I kinda came across option 2 accidentally lately. I'm used to playing in the classical repetoire but lately playing Jazz. When I tried some glissandos then I was reaching high notes fine. I think because when doing the gliss my tongue was anchored to the low bottom teeth. In my general play I'm not sure my tongue is anchored there but just pulls back as I get high.
  3. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    Perhaps I am (still?) doing it wrong, but if I focus too much on doing "tee" higher above the staff I find I cut my air off. I think I back my tongue off a bit and let the jaw/teeth/lips/breath combination work on the note. Rather like "injecting" a focused stream of air, applying greater pressure, rather than pushing it past an obstruction in my mouth.

  4. x9ret

    x9ret Banned

    May 6, 2014
    My understanding is that it's velocity of air rather than amount of air that makes high notes and you get velocity from reducing gap between tongue and top of your mouth. I don't think changing posture, instrument angle or pushing on is advised at all.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Tongue height is a moving target depending on the tone we are looking for, the loudness that we need to play as well as the articulation required. It is a useful tool for color.

    I do not teach tongue height. Proper use of lip slurs takes care of this without intellectualizing the process. I use the Earl Irons book and can really recommend it. The danger of "setting" the height is screwing up everything else.

    Anchor tonguing is another subject that I have often seen/heard used by lead players. In many cases other "classical" aspects were limited by this type of playing.

    Velocity is limited by the function of the lips (they open and close like a switch when playing) as well as the throat of the mouthpiece. It is a visualization used to try and make "floating the lips on air" more understandable. An actual high pitch in the horn is actually a standing wave "overblown" to higher partials (divisions related to the length of the horn).
  6. x9ret

    x9ret Banned

    May 6, 2014
    OK rowuk you don't teach tongue height. However if you watch singers and how they practice range they sing increasing arpeggios singing "Eeeeh" so I'm arguing the "Eeeeh" of one's tongue doesn't go up far enough often, which limits the pitch.
  7. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    I'm sure he'll explain, but I believe Rowuk is saying that he doesn't teach students to attempt to manipulate the tongue itself as a means of pitch control, but rather through the use os slur studies and Iron's exercises the tongue movement (and pitch change) is accomplished in coordination with other muscles/movement.

    I personally had little success trying to isolate and raise or lower my tongue level for range. I used Colin's flexibility exercises and lots and lots of lip slurs to eventually grow my range.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    X9ret, I'm glad you've discovered tongue arch. The goal is to make it a subconscious part of your playing. Memorize the "feel" at the end of your bell, and remember that any isolated aspect of good trumpet playing is more a symptom than a cause.
  9. cfkid

    cfkid Pianissimo User

    Jul 24, 2013
    Claude Gordon and his students really emphasize that the tongue controls the pitch. That being said, my teacher does not try to get me to "think" about tongue level. We do use k-tongue modified, where the tip of the tongue always stays on the bottom teeth. Claude had a saying, and stamp for each page of study that said 'watch the tongue.' As it is explained to me, that means that you need to be aware that the tongue arches, but not attempt to set it for every note.

    Instead we work on many flexibility studies to get the feel for using the tongue to change the pitch. You may want to read Claude's book 'Brass playing is no harder than deep breathing.' He covers a lot of his thoughts on tongue level there.

    I know Claude's ideas aren't for everyone, but they are working for me.

  10. x9ret

    x9ret Banned

    May 6, 2014
    Well tongue level works for me. In my playing I've rarely needed anything above a high C until now. My tongue has not had years of 'eeh' above high C. I am consciously thinking 'ee' when I go up now and guess what there's nice notes above high C coming out and the push on mouthpiece has simultaneously dropped. This is why I'm saying push comes in when tongue not doing it.

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