i am new to posting on trumpetmaster, but i have been a reader for a long time. what impresses me most about it, and about trumpet players in general, is their spirit of generosity when it comes to sharing information and encouragement with others. i have learned a great deal here, and wish to thank everyone.
about 6 weeks ago, i moved my embouchure after playing for 27 years. i learned the trumpet as an adult for a hobby, starting in my early 30's. for all of that time, i have had the same problem: no high notes. i don't mean lead trumpet high notes, i mean enough range to play the arban book sucessfully. the notes above the staff were always a strain, when they were there at all, and i frequently hurt myself trying to develop them, despite a willingness to start over and proceed systematically as many times as it took. without going into all of it, let's just say i tried a lot of stuff. a lot of methods, a lot of mouthpieces, a lot of horns. some things worked for a little while, but the day always came when my range actually started to diminish again. if i had been a kid in band, they would have put me on baritone. i thought maybe i was just too old to ever learn how to play those notes, so i bought a 4 valve flugel.
there were two main reasons i never tried very hard or very long to change my embouchure, which was 2/3's on the upper lip. first, i always heard and read that it was something to avoid. 2nd was that i had a good sound on the trumpet almost immediately. the consensus of all the advice seemed to be that if i had a good sound, the range would come if i practiced regularly and was patient. i was patient, but it never came. perhaps if i had a didactic teacher who made all of his students play 50/50, i would have avoided this. but as an adult, i probably would not have lasted very long with the didatic band director.
so finally i decided with very little to lose, i would try 50/50 in the middle of my mouth. this was not comfortable for me. i have crooked lower teeth, and several near the middle protrude. i also have an overbite. it felt like i was trying to play on my chin.
i had tried this before, and the usual thing happened. 2nd line G: nothing but air. but: i had read in several places about setting up for top of the staff G and working down. normally that G would not be anywhere in my first 20 minutes of practice. but i tried again and one squeaked out. and it sounded like hell. by the end of the day, i had worked down to the 2nd line G. small sound. not much control. after about 3 days, i had a high C down to a middle C (ledger line). sound still small. but for the first time, i had all those notes in the first 10 minutes. no low notes below the staff, but it didn't actually hurt and my teeth were not cutting the inside of my lip, so i continued. it still didn't feel comfortable, but i was so happy to have those notes, i went to the first page of the arban book and resolved to play everything in it one thing at a time. that could take awhile, and that's ok.
fast forward 6 weeks. everything has improved. range, endurance, and articulation being first among them. i miss more and have to practice slowly. the sound is getting better, and the low notes are coming in, altho they're still weak. the strongest, clearest notes are from 3rd space C to high C. those notes no longer take an unreasonable amount of effort, which tears down more than it builds up. but the important thing is that i now feel that i have a platform from which to improve, that encompasses the full standard range of the instrument. the irony here is that i had to, and will have to, be willing to sound bad to eventually sound good. another funny thing, the consensus of advice has changed. now its to have the sound i want in my head, and if i practice regularly and have patience, .......
my purpose in telling this tale is not to take issue with all the folks who say not to change your embouchure, or the teachers who let their students find where the mouthpiece feels most natural, those who advocate going for a good sound before range, or those who quote the many examples of fine, and even great, players who play from all different places on their face, or believe that since we are all unique individuals, any embouchure that works is fine. i suppose if it works, it is fine. but topping out on the staff is not necessarily a good definition of "working". i am not a trumpet expert by any means, and there is plenty of evidence to support all of those statements. the only reason i'm posting this is that there don't seem to be a lot of stories like this one on the forum. i have come to believe, at least from my experience, that to play the full range of the trumpet, the soprano range of the instrument has to be addressed as a high priority, and the other very important parts of being a total musician have to develop from that, unless you're going to specialize in the bottom octave and a half of the instrument. without disputing any of the knowledgeable advice i have read here, i am merely saying that if you've been playing the trumpet for quite a while now and have a good sound, and you are comfortable with your embouchure, but still have to work so hard to play in the upper register that you hurt yourself more often than not, perhaps you may want to endure some discomfort to try something new, like putting the horn in the middle of your mouth like somebody probably told you in your first lesson. might work. anyhow, good luck and all best to everyone.