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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Can't Play High Notes in the General forums; People playing instruments adapt and play wonderfully. We live in an imperfect world and I suspect many have imperfect embrochures, ...
  1. #31
    lmf is offline
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    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    People playing instruments adapt and play wonderfully. We live in an imperfect world and I suspect many have imperfect embrochures, yet play in the high register and are successful. Rowuk speaks of techniques that will help those seeking to play better, including the higher register.

    Best wishes,


  2. #32
    Forte User Bear's Avatar
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    Apr 2004

    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    Quote Originally Posted by dfusselman View Post
    To Bear, I can't say either way about your claim that there is more strength on the side of your mouth, but I don't think you're right. If you take a pencil or similar object and try to hold it up with your lips, I am imagine that most people will have the more strength dead in the middle of their mouth.
    I see your point... Wish I had a camera. Couple of my section boys got together and played with the pencil. Guess we are just different here then cause the pencil is more solid holding on the sides. Steel trap baby! HAHA. I still beg you to think about it though: If you hold the pencil using the "regular" front embouchure for say 5 or 10 minutes, which muscles start to burn first? For all my cats and myself it was the corners, hence me saying that the corners are indeed much stronger than the front of the embouchure. Thoughts?
    Last edited by Bear; 12-05-2008 at 02:36 PM.
    The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.
    -C. S. Lewis

    Life is about learning; when you stop learning, you die. -Tom Clancy

    And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
    -Revelation 8:6

  3. #33
    Pianissimo User trumpetlore's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Rochester, NY

    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    Quote Originally Posted by dfusselman View Post
    Here's a better pic of Thomas Stevens. It shows that the LOWER part of his upper lip is pretty flat. I am NOT concerned with the part that meets the regular facial skin. He obviously has a monstrous "cupid's bow", but the only part I am concerned about is where vibration occurs.

    If that didn't work, here's the link:

    Thanks! Keep those efforts coming!

    sorry df, but I can't agree. This is clearly not a relaxed embouchure. I'd be when you smile, yours looks much flatter as well.

  4. #34
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    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    What about overbites? I've been playing for about a year and 2 months, and I can hit a semi-consistent high C. Should I be far above this?

    I don't know if I have this "widow's peak" you speak of or not.

  5. #35
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    Quote Originally Posted by dfusselman View Post
    Hey rowuk,
    Thanks for the reply. There are obviously many players with different lip structures, and Herbert L. Clarke ripped a lot of skin off his upper lip when his mouthpiece froze to his chops. But until I see a picture that proves I am wrong, I won't be totally convinced. There might be other factors involved, but for me, playing way off to the side gives me an extra octave+. I don't think there's any explanation other than it's flat there, and I have yet to see a photo of a good player with anything other than flat or fairly flat upper lip in the middle 3/4 inches of the lip. Show me a picture of someone that has a lot of extra skin there and I'll send you $5.

    there is nothing to prove. Even if you find a picture, so what? The extra octave off to the side is possible because the tissue weighs less - less mass will vibrate more easily, the problem is that generally endurance goes down dramatically the further off center that you are. Even so here there are exceptions.
    Flat would be insignificant as when we blow towards our lips, the tissue is pushed forwards into the mouthpiece.

    Whether you want to believe anything, is up to you. The information is offered as is, from me after 30+ years of playing and teaching, for whatever that is worth.

    Good luck with your research.
    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

  6. #36
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    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    Interesting subject and, in my opinion, one that deserves some serious research. Afterall, who wouldn't benefit from a greater knowledge (scientific) of emboucher mechanics as it were? I know, I know, its only part of the equation.

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Dr. Z. Since you admit to having a "widow's peak" AND having range problems--at least in the past--you fit right into my theory. Would you be willing to send a pic your chops to me? [email protected]

    Or just post them on this thread.

    Thanks for the attitude of being open to the truth--wherever it lands.


  7. #37
    Pianissimo User Mason's Avatar
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    Oct 2008

    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    poor trumpet i could hear it cry lol.
    "Ultra-Pure Rocks!" - Chris Botti

    This is a temporary quote untill i find a good one.

  8. #38
    New Friend mellowmood_in_ventura's Avatar
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    Dec 2008

    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    ahhh, the vexing question of "how the heck can I sceam like Cat Anderson"? is raised time and again, and I too, have this off-and-on problem. I can really wail like a banshee one day, and then wonder if it was a dream the other!
    I'll mention that earlier on, I never really played out of 'trumpet'(Bb) books, but rather I simply bought those songbooks that could be played on just about anything, and because I do play some guitar and piano, general songbooks were ideal for me. Such songbooks very seldom EVER go about G3, and so I simply played in a lower register. And when I got back on trumpet, and (finally) started to try playing beyond my usual range from an Arban, a funny thing happened: frequently when I'd play A3, it'd come out as G3. Well, I learned that the valve combo for both A3 and G3 can be the same: 1&2. And you can also play E2 with 1&2, and D2 as 1&3.
    *** now I've this dilemma ***
    Because I was always 'A3-shy', and getting G3 instead, I self-diagnosed myself with "A-Slip Syndrome", or A.S.S.(which is how I feel when it happens)...and what the heck can I do about it
    Well, a friend of mine in a Yahoo! group gave me the very same advise that my original trumpet teacher also gave me, and that's to lighten-up on the teacher suggested suspending my trumpet from a boom, and just allowing it to rest...Don(my friend) suggesting imagining kissing a gross old aunt(with a moustache)....well I'll also mention that I have an overbite, and I guess that got the notion that things would be aligned with lotsa pressure, but back when, I didn't know that I had an overbite. Heck, I didn't even know what an overbite was. I just seemed to feel that with enough pressure, I'd be able to play better. Nope, it don't do that way, because it stifles the buzz. And in the upper register, it's enough work to just get that buzz; to exert much pressure can nullify it. I don't know if my rambling with help anyone, but as Don has advised me, to practice with just a mousepieth, so that we don't broadcast our failings.
    Then, when we get a good buzzing in the upper register going, to attach it to the horn and set off the neighborhood dogs.

  9. #39
    New Friend JPTRPT's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Play High Notes


    Interesting thread!

    I think I may be able to offer some insight. Let's leave lip structure at the door for a moment.

    I noticed in both instances, the arpeggiated sequence you played had slides up to the subsequent slots (notes). This can result in an over tightening as you ascend into the upper register, ultimately cutting off the vibration of the lips. It also changes and limits the color spectrum. In this case, I believe playing off center allows for more "give". Fundamentally though, staying on the bottom side of the pitch, and keeping your embrochure constant will manifest more stability. Use air to manipulate the tones while maintaining the same embrochure for high G, C etc. as you would for G in the staff.

    It's can be a difficult adjustment at first, but I believe it will help you reach your goals; maximize your efficiency and minimize effort. Less is more.

    Just my $.02

    Stay at it!

    Joey Pero

  10. #40
    Pianissimo User thebugleboy's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Play High Notes

    Has anyone mentioned Satchmo's lip structure and scarring? It didn't seem to bother him. I remember watching him slide all over the place and up into the clouds. You may notice that many power and high note men develop the "lip tip" over time, and the performance just seems to improve with it. I don't mean anything mean by this, but some have that special talent to build what they want from (seemingly) nothing, such as a one armed baseball player. They don't look for reasons why they are not successful, but keep reaching for the treasure they seek. There are many obstacles I have overcome in my quests, and there are some things that I have not been able to accomplish (probably because I didn't put out that Herculean effort or maybe because I just didn't have that in my talent repertoire). But I truly believe a man will do what he seriously makes up his mind to do. I played a tour with a horrifying gash on the inside of my upper lip (I won't volunteer the specifics). My teeth virtually cut through. But I found a way. It wasn't my best performances, but I was performing. My lip is nice and flat, and I had to work double hard to get my power and sky high notes.

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