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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Flat Below The Staff in the General forums; What causes notes to be flat below the staff? I tend to be flat on notes below B natural below ...
  1. #1
    Piano User xjb0906's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Charlotte NC

    Flat Below The Staff

    What causes notes to be flat below the staff? I tend to be flat on notes below B natural below the staff. This includes F# that should require me to kick out me third valve slide. Even on F# I am either right on pitch or slightly flat even with the slide pulled all of the way in. Notes in and above the staff are in tune. I used to have a problem with being sharp above the staff but am having far less trouble as I learn to relax more. One thing I have noticed that helps with getting the notes in tune below the staff is to play the same note 1 or 2 octaves higher, then play the note below the staff while trying to hear it in the higher octave. It will usually play in tune at that point. My question is what are mechanics behind playing flat below the staff. Is there a better way to improve this than what I am doing with trying to hear it up an octave?
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  2. #2
    Piano User
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    Jan 2009
    Spring City, PA, USA

    Re: Flat Below The Staff

    Unfortunately, I don't remember the page, but you should get an Arban's method and work on the interval studies. I base this on the fact that when you play down from the octave, it helps. That points to you having difficulty hearing the pitch. If playing the interval studies doesn't improve your sense of relative pitch, at least it will help you build "muscle memory" so that you will instinctively know how to position your lips and blow in order to produce the right pitch.
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  3. #3
    Forte User nieuwguyski's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA

    Re: Flat Below The Staff

    "Think low when you play high, and high when you play low."

    It sounds like you're already down the path of thinking low when you play high. Now you need the apply the other half of the saying.
    J. Notso Nieuwguyski

  4. #4
    Forte User jiarby's Avatar
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    May 2011

    Re: Flat Below The Staff

    It has to do with the wavelength of the pitch in relation to the harmonic partial. The trumpet is a compromise in general. Some notes are sharp or flat in a partial at the expense of others being in tune.

    That's why moving slides were invented, to bring the naturally sharp notes back down. If you make the 3rd slide long enough for D's & C#'s to be in tune then you are screwed on Eb's and Ab's. the only solution is to make the tubes shorter so the flattest pitch is in tune and then use the slide.

    For a low F# you will just need to lip the pitch where it needs to be. Your embochure support may be too loose in the low register. Many guys just "throw out the anchor" and drop the jaw for low notes rather than still using a focused apeture and controlled embochure. I don't know if that is what you are doing or not, but I have seen lots of guys that are pretty loose on low notes... and therefore not in control of the pitch. the 1-2-3 Low F# is not as whacky as C#.

    Keep the focus in your embochure so that your low A's-G's-F# resonate as well as C-E-F does.

  5. #5
    Pianissimo User
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    Jan 2011
    On my way to Bearberry Ab

    Re: Flat Below The Staff

    My problems with notes below the staff were solved by following a trumpet teachers method of setting the embucher(sp) for the C and the working chromaticly downward without changing the embucher but mainaining and developing breath support from the diaphragm.

    C B C, C A# C, C A C, C G# C, C G C, C F#.

    Then also practice the chromatic scale with one embucher set as well. It takes a while to develope the muscle memory for air support.....

    With the air support for the bottom chromatic notes you should not have to change your lip set and the intonation of the 'C' should be the same each time you play it.

    This lets the natural intonation of the horn set wether or not the note is in tune and then you can compensate with the slide position.

    After the first intervals were easier, I started beginning the intervals on the D and then the E instead of the C and following the chromatic sequence for the bottom note of the interval.

    That worked for me.

    ps.... all that said doesn't mean that I no longer have problems with notes below the staff........... the problems just became easier to hide......
    Last edited by Conn-solation; 12-28-2011 at 04:15 PM. Reason: add disclaimer....

  6. #6
    New Friend AaronPlaysTrumpet's Avatar
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    Jul 2011

    Re: Flat Below The Staff

    it's always difficult to determine the problem without seeing and hearing you play, HOWEVER, my guess would be that it might be an issue of muscle control. try Stamp exercises (or other pedal tone exercises where you slur down to the pedal note) and remember to play loud in the pedal range. you can also try Thompson's buzzing book - the first four exercises are great for learning to control that range of the horn. another idea is to play Clarke studies 1 and 2 very softly slurred and tongued in one breath (the focus here is maintaining a relaxed embouchure and a focused aperture with steady airflow). supplement it all with long tones, lip slurs, and octave studies to promote even abilities in all registers.
    Once a Sinfonian, Always a Sinfonian...

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