Trouble with high notes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by daniel117, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. daniel117

    daniel117 Pianissimo User

    Jun 28, 2012
    I've always had the most troubles with high notes among my fellow senior trumpet players they can all play up to a high c any
    day and higher, but as for me my normal top is a Bb and I've always felt bad when i have to play high because the longer i play
    high notes the crappier they start sounding. So far the only reason I'm 1st trumpet is because my sound is very nice I wanted
    to know if there is a way to develop higher range without having to play at my higher range the whole time.

    I do have an "amazing" low register according to my instructor because I'm able to play down to a pedal c without changing my embouchure
    and i do practice every day with my low and high register. It just seems like i hit a roadblock at the high Bb :-(
  2. D.C. Al fine

    D.C. Al fine Banned

    May 8, 2012
    Hey, I may be able to go past high C, but I wish I could go to pedal C easily.

    Best thing you can do is long tones, start on the G that sits on top of the staff and use your whole breath and play these dynamics: P < FF > P but stretch it way out for at least a minute. Then go to the A, then on until your notes sound bad. Then do it again next week.
    Good Luck
  3. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    Practice, practice, practice. You're a high school kid, so you should be spending at least 2 - 3 hours a day practicing.

    Long tones are great, but they can only be part of your routine.

    Here's something from Wynton Marsalis that I frequently re-post:
    Wynton Marsalis: The Marsalis Recommended Recipe for Daily Practice

    The Marsalis Recommended Recipe for Daily Practice

    by Wynton Marsalis
    BDG Magazine (?)
    May, 1987

    Three hours will allow you to cover all aspects of playing, but 45-60 minutes is enough for one sitting. The quality of the practice is more important than the length of time it takes.

    Practice has several basic objectives: sound, slurring, tonguing (single, double, triple), phrasing. The Arban book [Arban's Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet (Cornet), published by Carl Fischer, 192.] is set up that way.

    Try to get as rich and pure a sound as you can -- an "unbrassy" sound, the kind with no metal in it. Louis Armstrong is a good example. His sound is really bright, but not brassy. It has a core that is warm.

    Durin the first 15-20 minutes play long tones, soft, from second line G down to low G. For the next 30-45 minutes work with pages 5 and 6 in the Max Schlossberg book [M. Baron, publisher], varying the dynamics and the tempos. Try to play through every slur, getting an even, round sound on every note, and getting over the breaks in the instrument. Also, exercises 59 and 60 in the Schlossberg book are good to strengthen your lips.

    Take a break.

    Use the Second Study (page 8) in the Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies [Carl Fischer]. Work on velocity, with a metronome, in major and minor keys. Slur some, tongue some, and double tongue some. Also work on the "kah" syllable. Go straight up the scale, starting with the middle C (exercise 32).

    In the Arban book there is a series of exercises to work on your single tongue attack. Number 19 on 28 is especially good. Try to get a nice round attack with some "pop" in it.

    Then you can open an etude book. Theo Charlier: Etudes Transcendantes [Leduc] is good for advanced players, or the Arban book for others. Do some double/triple tonguing exercises. That's another hour on tonguing.

    Take a break.

    Now deal a little more with slurring, but not too much; you don't want to kill yourself. Work out of a book like Advanced Lip Flexibilities [Charles Colin, author and publisher]. Then do some phrasing exercises out of the Arban book.

    Finally, play some characteristic studies from Arban, or etudes from Charlier or Schlossberg. When you play these etudes, or any exercise, always go straight trhrough without a stop the first time. Then go back and practice the places you had difficulty. Play everything -- no matter how trivial or trite it might be -- with dynamics and sound and musical expression.

    If you practice like that EVERY DAY for 2 - 3 hours you'll be amazed at what happens to your range, tone, and technique.

    I think you'll benefit more from a routine like the above than any "high note" exercises that you'll read about here.
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    It could be just a mental thing. I had a hard time getting there too. Chromatic scales have helped me as well as long tone and lip slurs. Playing in the higher range is what will get you to play in the higher range. I know that's a profound statement, but it's true. I'm also proficient at pedals down to "great C/C1". I now own up to high F and am working on F#. Just be patient and take it one half tone at a time.
  5. cantplaytrumpet

    cantplaytrumpet Pianissimo User

    Apr 2, 2012
    Patience is a virtue. :-)
  6. mctrumpet98

    mctrumpet98 Pianissimo User

    Sep 29, 2011
    Down Under
    As a fellow high schooler, I understand what it's like. I also understand that for us, it is often not possible to fit in three or four hours of practice a day without neglecting our studies and social life. And let's face it, if we spend all of our high school lives doing music practice and then it fails us later on (which frequently happens), we'll have to start again.

    So how long are we supposed to practice? Well, in all honesty, I probably practice for approximately one hour and a half to two hours a day on weekdays, and about 2-3 on weekends. That's plenty for my level.

    Have a good start-of-practice routine that works on your technical capability. Long tones, lip slurs and trills, slurred arpeggios, mixed intervals, single, 'k', double and triple tonguing, and the major, minor (harmonic and melodic), whole tone and chromatic scales. Basically, the Range of Complete Control (google it) daily exercises with some more scales.

    Some people swear by spending hours on this kind of thing. I don't. I probably spend around 30-45 minutes doing this, and then I run through one (or more) of Arban's characteristic studies and/or one (or more) of his Fantasies and Air Varies, and then usually a concerto and maybe some other etudes. Then I take a nice break long break. On weekdays, this is usually the end of my practice session. Then, if I go for part two a few hours later, I do a quick warmup, run through a characteristic study and continue playing for my enjoyment.

    So how do you increase your practice time? The first thing I would suggest is try and join more bands. Get as much experience as possible in all different settings. Symphony orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, brass bands, Jazz bands, funk bands, wind bands, quintets, quartets or anything at all that will give your more time with your instrument and with other people.

    As a final note, don't get so caught up in trying to play high that you ruin your chops and wreck yourself. And as James Morrison taught me, when you finish practice, you should feel one of two things: sore lips or tired lips. Sore lips means that you've basically punched yourself in the face with a piece of metal and your lips will recover in a few days time. Tired lips means that you've been working out the muscles in and around your lip, and they will recover and strengthen for the next day.

    Best of luck :)
  7. ultratrumpet

    ultratrumpet Piano User

    Jul 10, 2009
    Old Lyme, Connecticut
    Get the following: at

    ----mp3 download - The Secret Of Becoming A Great Trumpet Player
    ----mp3 download - Screech With The Best Of Them
    ----mp3 download - (to accompany the book of the same name)

    Authored by Bill Knevitt - One of Claude Gordon's Star Students:
    " In all my years of teaching, I have never had a student who understands how to teach trumpet as does Bill Knevitt." Claude Gordon
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  8. daniel117

    daniel117 Pianissimo User

    Jun 28, 2012
    Oh God

    It's marching band season again and for me this means playing music where every note i have is above the staff. :(

    im being forced to almost literally kill my lips every day and i cant seem to find any time to practice
  9. mctrumpet98

    mctrumpet98 Pianissimo User

    Sep 29, 2011
    Down Under
    Don't kill yourself! You want to work up to that higher register and part of the way to building the chops for it is simply playing up there at a regular basis. That is, every practice session or as frequently as possible.

    Forcing yourself into this kind of thing frequently is a sure-fire way of setting in bad habits, such as using loads of pressure. Sure, push yourself out of your comfort zone and push yourself to work hard, but don't go too far. Keep in mine what I said earlier about the difference between sore and tired lips.

    If you only rehearse for marching band weekly, I think it's actually one of the best ways to build your high register. Especially on the first parts.

    If you're lacking confidence, just remember to support your sound, use plenty of air, and hear what the note is going to sound like when you play it at that very time and place in your head before you play it. If there's more than one guy on first (usually there's about two or three), you can share the load with them and drop down an octave or mime it when you need to.

    Go hard, but don't burn out. That's the key concept here.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Don't fight the monster!


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