Upgrading Range

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trmpt_plyr, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. trmpt_plyr

    trmpt_plyr Pianissimo User

    Jun 12, 2009
    After getting an embouchure change, my range completely disappeared. At first, I could only play up to an A. After some time of buzzing and various excersices, I can now play up to middle C without much of a problem. However, it is not enough for what my band instructor wants. What types of excercises out there can help your range improve faster? Does anyone have any other advice on improving range?
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    There is no shortcuts. Practice softly long tones and arpeggios. Get your Arban and Clarke - it has it all. Be patient. Inhaling the notes may help too, as Rowuk has pointed out on many occasions.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    You know, this embouchure change stuff is the most annoying subject for me here at TM. I don't know where you guys/gals get the info that it makes any sense at all. I can't imagine that players with reasonable reading and comprehension skills do not get the message that embouchure changes are a last resort.

    Let me make this very simple: EMBOUCHURE CHANGES ARE PLAIN STUPID UNLESS YOU HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL POSSIBILITIES WITH YOUR PRESENT SITUATION. That means you have taken all the measures to straighten out your body use, breath support and have a decent program designed to build the right habits.

    If you made the decision to change your chops, we have no idea what was wrong in the first place, why a change was considered and why another geometry is supposed to make things get better. If you don't know why, I guess you messed up big time.

    If you made the decision on your own, you messed up not having a plan. If a qualified teacher did this to you, who are we to question someone that "knows" your face.

    There is only one way to get better: stop messing around with things that you know nothing about and spend that time on doing a better job of building good habits. There are no shortcuts, but tons of stupid things that only set players back.

    I have been teaching for more than 30 years and only have had 3 students in that whole time that benefitted from an embouchure change. The change took more than 6 months in each case, one well over a year. Every other student got decent sound and range the old fashioned way: simple practice of the stuff that is good for you.

    An embouchure change that doesn't even have a 3rd space C from the first day is a sign of something terribly wrong. But then again, that is to be expected when there is no real plan.

    My suggestion is to get a personal coach and do what they say. Your present approach can only get worse.
  4. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    You don't say if you have a private teacher. Therefore, who decided you needed to change? If it way you then you need a good solid teacher to help you with your embouchure etc.
  5. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Like Rowuk, I'm quite amazed about all the embouchure change postings on this forum. It really shouldn't be all that common for anybody who has played more than a few months to need to change their embouchure. Change mouthpiece to better fit the embouchure you've got, sure. Change instrument to better help you fulfill your concept of tone, sure. But only change your embouchure if you have tried everything else imaginable, which includes finding a teacher if you don't have one, and finding a different teacher if you currently have one and he/she isn't able to help you beyond a certain point.
    Sometimes we need to change teachers not because our current one isn't good, but simply because familiarity allows us to tune out certain things which get mentioned (often for the umpteenth time) and we no longer benefit from that teacher. A new teacher may say exactly the same things as the old teacher but they seem brand new and they help us over the hump of whatever problem we're currently facing.

    But once we start playing the trumpet for a couple of months our embouchure is essentially formed and we should never need to change it unless our beginning teacher is a total moron.

    For every "bad" embouchure position we may read/hear about and possibly notice in ourself and worry about we can find man professionals playing much better than many of us will ever play who have that same "bad" embouchure.

    I think that all this embouchure change comes about because of too much information available in situations where people don't have teachers to work with.

    Having once made an embouchure change, however, one has to see it through. When such a thing occurs, we have to remember how long it took us from when we played our first notes to when we got to those high notes we wish we could hit after our embouchure change.

    There's no easy shortcut for things which require time to develop. You've totally altered what your body has spent the past few years (ever since you started playing the trumpet) and you need to give your body time to refigure what to do.

    Long tones, low tones, slow playing and doing it faithfully everyday is the only way to allow your body to get things back in balance.
  6. progmac

    progmac Pianissimo User

    Jan 9, 2009
    FWIW, I did a similar massive embouchure change. Couldn't play a third space C after the change. It's been about 14 months since then and of course the situation is much better. My range still isn't where it was before the change, but my control and endurance is better beyond compare. My ability to center notes has improved and in general it is far easier to blend with the cornet section. This was a change from 2/3 or more of the piece on my bottom lip to 2/3 or more on the top lip.

    I'm a student of the CG method and 1/2 or more of the mpiece on the top lip is pretty much the one dogmatic things with the method. In his books, CG said he had changed many many embouchure over the years and each was a success.

    You asked about exercises. I spent most of my time working on long tone type exercises and also scale from arban, c. page 70 iirc. I took lots of breaks (like even more than 'rest as much as you play') and gradually things improved. I also play consistently, methodically, and almost never miss a day of my routine. Without this hard work, I would think the change might be a fool's errand.

    Frankly, you aren't going to be able to play anything but third parts for a couple of months. If that is a problem, you could attempt to develop the new embouchure while still playing on the old. Not sure what folks here might have to say about that.

    So that has been my experience. Maybe some would say changing was wrong or stupid or unnecessary, but it helped me.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009
  7. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I would bet you dollars to donuts that if you had simply changed the materials you were working on and changed your practice routine to what you describe you've done since your embouchure change, you would have gotten the same results you're showing now only without the loss of range. You didn't need an embouchure change, you needed a practice-routine change which your embouchure change forced on you and you're getting huge dividends.

    I, too, after playing for 46 years underwent a huge practice routine change following the ITG convention and combined with a hearty desire to keep up with my college-student-trumpet-major son. But I didn't change my embouchure, and I, too, (like you) have vastly improved control, endurance, and am able to center the pitch better and my range is far better than ever. It's what has surrounded your embouchure change which has helped you far more than the embouchure change.

    People put too much thought into what others say about the mouthpiece position, in my opinion. I've read some writings where a trumpet player will say what he thinks the ideal embouchure placement is, only to see pictures of him playing and notice that his own embouchure isn't what he is telling everybody else to be doing.

    Shut your eyes, get into a relaxed breathing routine, form your lips as if you were about to say "hmmm" and then blow with a plosive "p" sound. do this a few times and then place your mouthpiece where the "p" gets formed. Then do the same thing only blow a bit harder to get the lips to buzz. That's your natural embouchure point and where you should be playing, with the mouthpiece placed where it fits naturally against your lips and allows them to buzz. Which is where most people put it when they start as young players. Pay no attention to those who say "1/3 top, 2/3 bottom" or "2/3 top, 1/3 bottom" or "half-top, half-bottom." Everybody's mouth is unique and no two mouthpiece placementss will be exactly the same.

    For most people, a change in practice routine will accomplish far more than an embouchure change will accomplish. And with far less pain, suffering and loss of playing ability.
  8. progmac

    progmac Pianissimo User

    Jan 9, 2009
    Well, I was on a strict routine before the embouchure change, daily practice for several hours of quality material -- all that jazz.

    But I know what you mean -- there is no way for me to KNOW that the change was ultimately helpful. If string theory is true, a version of myself that did not make the change exists in another dimension... For the materr, a version of myself that studies the harpsichord exists in another dimension.

    Since I can't compare notes with the version of myself from the other dimension, all I can do is keep moving forward and trust the method of study that I use. I chose to take the blue pill, and I'll keep taking the blue pill. Maybe the red pill would have worked, but I didn't choose that and I'm not going to mix pills. I'm sticking with my prescription.

    I hope I have provided an adequate supply of metaphors. And I do like donuts.
  9. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I agree that there's no way to know -- but your message which I quoted seemed to imply that your practice routine had changed. I guess I misinterpreted.

    I do understand your metaphor, and I'm happy that you've made the progress you've made, no matter what the cause.
  10. progmac

    progmac Pianissimo User

    Jan 9, 2009
    :) Well, the routine did change substantially -- simply because I couldn't play my old routine anymore what with losing all my endurance and range. But I did have a routine before, I didn't make that clear though, you're right.

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