Yet another "range extension" question.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by JPNSR, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. JPNSR

    JPNSR New Friend

    Sep 13, 2014
    Ontario Canada
    Ladies and gentlemen,

    I am a 69 year old amateur and play a Yamaha TR2330 with a Rudy Muck 17C mouthpiece.I have been playing for several years and have recently embarked on an effort to reduce mouthpiece pressure while playing. I ussually have 2 or 3, 30 minute practice sessions daily. My "comfort zone" is from C below the staff (C4) to D5. After about 6 - 10 minutes warming up (by playing major scales starting with C4) I can reach F5 or G5. On most days I can hit A5 and some rare days I can squeek out a momentary B5.

    After being able to hit G5 I consider the warmup over and I then play songs for the rest of the session. When I play songs that call for a lot of notes just above my comfort zone (F5 and G5), I feel a lactic acid burn in my jaw approximately around the rear molars of my upper jaw. I assume this a requisite step in extending my range.

    If I maximise my practice time playing songs that have a lot of notes above my comfort zone, I find fatigue and failure sets in quickly and I require a few minutes to recover. If on the other hand, I play songs that are in my comfort zone, I can play non stop for about 30-40 minutes with no more than about 5-10 seconds between songs (that last between 1 - 3 minutes).

    Would anyone care to comment on how to alter my sessions with the aim of extending my range?

    Thank you.
  2. Ljazztrm

    Ljazztrm Piano User

    Nov 15, 2003
    Queens, NY
    Hey there friend. I would suggest you take the songs you play in your comfort zone, and devote one of your practice sessions to practicing them in the following manner:

    Take a big, comfortable, and relaxed breath as you start the song and, when you feel like you want to breathe, don't breathe but keep going.. Keep playing until you blow all the air out (and visualize you are blowing all the air out and longer). Take a short pause until you feel relaxed and, then, another big comfortable breath and continue where you left off in the same manner. You would want to do these 'long hold' type exercises around 25x or so in your practice session. What this is doing is building up power in your core, 'blowing muscles' and taking strain off your face This is helping your embouchure to become more relaxed and much more efficient. After a couple of weeks you should notice your range starting to naturally increase as you are practicing songs with a higher register. You can build a tremendous amount of range and endurance in this way, assuming you have no unusual embouchure troubles or are fighting your equipment. The Muck 17C is a pretty efficient piece - much more so than most Bachs and will help you maintain efficiency. Sometimes, with deeper mouthpieces and sharper bites, you can get away with playing more inefficiently and that can hamper your progress and lead to embouchure problems. The Yamaha 2330 is a decent student horn that shouldn't hold you back at all.

    I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing the book 'Setting Up Drills' by Herbert Clarke and work on mastering the exercises in there which are a short compilation of chromatic, scalar, and tonguing exercises. To my knowledge, Clarke is the first one to come up with the idea of a 'long hold' to build power in the blowing muscles.
    Setting Up Drills by Clarke, Herbert L. | qPress

    Best of luck! :-) Lex
    J. Jericho likes this.
  3. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    I think what you are experiencing is pretty common. When you practice at the top of your range, at least for me, fatigue sets in much more quickly. Others will likely provide good advice on the type of exercises to practice. I would suggest attempting to break your practice into 2 or 3 sessions a day, instead of one long session.
  4. Franklin D

    Franklin D Forte User

    May 23, 2009
    The Netherlands
    he does
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Since your jaw muscles are fatiguing, I conclude you are using the "traditional" lateral "smile" technique to tighten your embouchure. I used this for many years until the playing demand I started taking on was straining my jaw (and lips) in the way you describe. I experimented with the use of other facial muscles to lighten the load on my jaw, and discovered what I call the "Phowwwww" technique. I now use this exclusively for my embouchure and can last for hours on very demanding pieces requiring not only excessive range but also fatiguing runs to endure.

    The phowwwww embouchure utilizes the muscles that scaffold onto the zygomatic arch. This is the bony point around the lower orbit of the eyes. This creates a vertical smile (a more happpy face smile). Using these muscles accomplishes two tasks: It recruits more muscle mass over the traditional lateral smile; 2) It utilizes a larger area of muscle insertion points. Outcome: more strength, less fatigue.

    I call it the phowwww technique as that is the vibratory response coming from the lips using these muscles.. The buzz is gone. Buzzing - Inefficiency. Phowwwwing - Efficiency.

    To those that say phowwwwie to my logic, well, you are almost there. Try it again without the ie, and you can compete with me for endurance on ANY gig.
  6. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    I don't know about that Gmonady guy --- cause I've seen him live in concert a few years back --- and that old fart can really play ---- I estimate his age at nearly 63 --------------NOW me, I'm only 51 (soon) -- and I can play the A (the 2nd one above the staff) as my maximum decent sound ------ I don't do the smile thing, and haven't for quite some time --- but DUDE, I get fatigued if I try to play more than 15 or 20 minutes at the top ------ my comfort range to the D,E above the staff, I can go much longer --------------------------------PROLONGED practices, OR practicing at the upper range during the course of a week --- ALWAYS results in jaw pain for me ---------- just play in your range, be happy, and only try to expand it once a week ---- with long tones -----------------but that is just me
  7. gbshelbymi

    gbshelbymi Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 3, 2013
    Travelers Rest, SC
    HIGHLY recommend this method: Power Legit Trumpet Studies

    Gordon was my primary teacher in college. These studies helped my range, endurance and sound immensely.
  8. Furcifer

    Furcifer Pianissimo User

    Jul 26, 2010
    After over 30 years of trying various methods, it seems clear to me that the cats who can really rip upstairs have what I call a "gifted buzz". It doesn't really make sense to think of range alone as a product of strength. The simple act of buzzing a higher pitch shouldn't require a great deal of strength. This might just be a "squeak", but if it's on pitch and you can HEAR it (developing our ability to HEAR in the high range, in ADVANCE of the note we want to play, is SO important!), then the 'epiphany' we're looking for has occurred! That's "Step 1", and just doing that is all about finding the correct muscles in the face, LIP POSITION and LOCATION OF THE BUZZ to make those notes happen.

    For years, I was doing it by flattening and hardening the lips, reducing the amount of flesh that can vibrate to accommodate more air and a higher frequency of vibration (higher pitch). This only got me so far, and there are plenty who think G above High C is plenty. Well, it served me well for a long time, but it's not good enough for me if it becomes a "boundary" that represents the limit of my potential. We can't accept limits to improvement.

    So, I listened to players who have great natural facility on the horn who can get up to Double C without any more effort than it takes to just play loud on any other note from an octave below that. What are they doing that I'm not? And no, it's not practice (not when they can do it after 5 years of playing and I still can't do it after 30), and no, it's not air ("You've got plenty of air..." - Wayne Bergeron), and no, it's not magic!

    But it is luck. YES, it is indeed LUCK that some people have the natural physiology that allows them to put a trumpet on their face, and these wonderful notes come out relatively easily, without a lot more or different practice than the rest of us (and no, it's not super-human strength, either). OK, but CAN other people DUPLICATE that, EVENTUALLY, if they can just find for themselves what they need to do different with their muscles so that the buzz WORKS the SAME WAY as the lucky ones, by the time it gets to the aperture of their lips? (What happens eventually has to happen INSIDE the mouthpiece. - Wayne Bergeron) Well, I have to believe YES!

    I think the real secret is where the buzz is happening on the lips. Is it further forward, out to the edge of the pink as we go up? That's what I was doing before, and I basically ran out of lip. OK, so what about further back? What if I move the buzz back by actually pursing the lips more, getting more "meat" into the mouthpiece, more pink showing outside the rim - which, incidentally, is exactly what I'm seeing from a lot of these cats I'm talking about? Hmmm, so maybe I should talk to an expert on that?

    Enter Lynn Nicholson. I'm not going to repeat his teaching here, but I do think his use of the visualizer and what he's doing with his lips, where the buzz is located for him and how it eventually USES the AIR to get that buzz happening all the way across the inside of the mouthpiece for max volume has been a real breakthrough for me. It's a total change from what I've been doing for 30 years, so, no, it doesn't happen overnight, but I've squeaked out a couple of Double C's, and I'm not even in HALF the shape I was back when I was playing lead in two jazz bands and marching band in college, and doing this stuff for 6 hours a day. And that's the real deal, right? There is POTENTIAL there now, where before, there was a "limit". Now I can say things to myself like, "just imagine if I WAS playing 6 hrs of lead every day now..." Hmmm... Now that's the essence of what I call "motivation"!
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    ....and while you're thinking about all the really great advice above, you might like to think about working on your range below C4. It's a lot less fatiguing, and by the time you can control a quiet, in tune, low F# with full resonance, you might find a few notes up the top end are feeling a little less like hard work.
  10. Franklin D

    Franklin D Forte User

    May 23, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Sound is much more important than range

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