Weakness in the mid range transition

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Jackson Arch, May 18, 2010.

  1. Jackson Arch

    Jackson Arch Piano User

    Mar 6, 2010
    Attempting to comeback after 28 years away from the horn. Been at it for 4-5 months now. Low end is fine from bottom up to D in the staff. Having control and fatigue problems from E to G (G on top of the staff). Just fine from A to D above. Good days and bad above that. No real consistent strength (or confidence) in that mid range E to G area. Many times will start out OK there, but by the time I'm fully warmed up and comfortable (15 minutes or so) that area starts to be a problem.

    Still not pleased with endurance overall. A good practice session is 45 minutes at best. Don't feel like I am attempting to shift the embouchure in that range...just lose precision, control and tone there. More beer? :bravo:
  2. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    Apr 7, 2010
    I am a comeback player after nearly 35 years and have been at it now for nearly 9 or 10 months now. I am starting to lose track. At any rate, I can very much relate. All I can tell you what every one is and has been telling me: "patience". It will take a great deal of time to build strength and endurance in the embrouchure muscles. Consistent steady practice, slowly building. It could very well be that you are pushing yourself too hard.

    A pint of beer and a pound of wings is always good for the soul, too.

  3. Jackson Arch

    Jackson Arch Piano User

    Mar 6, 2010
    Excellent advice, Sir! (Particularly that last line)

    Sometimes it takes someone else to point out what should be mighty obvious. I really don't want to admit it or agree with you because I want to work harder and improve more rapidly, but I think you probably nailed part of my problem. Sitting here right now, I know that I overworked it tonight...Thanks.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The problem with being a comeback player is that you have a "concept" about what sounds good. That expectation causes your brain to make adjustments while playing. So far, so good, if your breathing and chops are together. If not, an enormous amount of energy is dumped into getting as close a possible. Your face falls apart after a while.

    The solution is to build the necessary habits to play efficiently: big breath (probably your issue), long tones and slurs will get you there faster than anything else I know of. The Clarke technical studies played pianissimo are also very good.

    Build your practice routine into 3 equal sections:
    1) long tones and slurs
    2) tunes
    3) technical studies

    Practice them in that order. Music should ALWAYS be played when your chops are optimal. Technical studies waste the face regardless of your playing level. They therefore belong at the end!
  5. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Jackson, if you do it all correctly - and Rowuk has that down pat, you will progress slowly but steadily. You will find, as many of us have, that your expectations will outstrip your ability for quite a while. If you "observe" yourself, you will find that you plateau at a level for quite a time, then all of a sudden find that you've ramped up onto a new plane - and there you sit for a while - an so on.

    Can I suggest that at this point you select a tune you like, and one that perhaps has some accents that as yet you don't really understand, and play that as a regular test piece - and as you notice one of the aformentioned ramp-ups, return to your test piece and give it another shot. This gives you a definitive idea of your progress from a known base.

    And one other thing Rowuk left off .... that he usually includes when offering his sage advice .... rest as much as you play. (I like to suggest to the kids that they NEVER practice, but ALWAYS play - it seems to sometimes reduce the perception of our development being seen as a chore). Above all - have fun.
  6. crazyandy88

    crazyandy88 Pianissimo User

    Nov 3, 2007
    Fayetteville, AR
    From E to G is a weird register for me as well. I have trouble centering the pitch in the 5th and 6th partials of the horn...mostly from Eb to G on top of the staff. Long tones and slurs are great for getting comfortable in that register. Another exercise I really love is half-step pitch bends. If you are doing anything wrong you will drop down a harmonic instead of a half-step. I think of trumpet playing as a pet...if it's hungry, feed it. That range is hungry for attention so feed it!
  7. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008

    Good answer!

    No. 1 could very well be a very high quality feedback method.

    No. 2: could beer fumes work as the reqired "food"?
    Last edited: May 19, 2010
  8. crazyandy88

    crazyandy88 Pianissimo User

    Nov 3, 2007
    Fayetteville, AR
    Ha! My horn can't hold her liquor. It seems that when I drink and play she sounds awful!
  9. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    Funny! I have a horn like that too . . .:roll:
  10. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi Jackson,
    I'm guessing that once you get a little above the staff, you start to strain and use a lot of mouthpiece pressure, right?
    Her's what I'd recommend:
    1) spend the dough and get a couple of hours with a college trumpet teacher to get you headed in the right direction.
    2)Do long tones (when you do long tones listen deep into your sound and don't let it quiver, long tones are closer to meditation than music)
    3)Lip slurs, instead of buying a bunch of books, do this:
    start on C below the staff and slur "softly" up to C, G, C (and occasionally up to E and G just to see if its there yet). DO NOT go so high you are straining. Next use the other valve combinations and do the same thing. Those combinations are:
    You could say the trumpet has 7 different bugles in it
    The next three things are a biggy:
    1)When you are playing, imagine your lips like a meat pillow (yes you read it right, meat pillow) The idea is to not crush, smash, or press excessively against the meat pillow.
    2)Listen to a lot of different trumpet players. Get the sound in your head.
    3) No real consistent strength (or confidence)?
    STOP YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS Quit thinking about what you can't do.
    By the way, the lip slurs are gonna kick your butt! They are very hard when you are just starting out. With that said, don't kill yourself with lip slurs. Go through the seven combinations and when you play them make it light and beautiful. Try and sound like Alison Balsom when you do it.
    Last edited: May 19, 2010

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