It was a post I read yesterday advising someone who wanted more high register to "just practice more" and that's when this idea dawned on me.
"High notes really are a learned skill. A trick"
Much like riding a bicycle, you really don't lose them. Nor need to ride the bike much in order to not fall down. If you were a competitive cyclist sure you'd want to exercise and train every day. or almost every day. So I'm not sure that the advice to "just practice more" is all that relevant to learn high notes. Hey I'm just sayin...
It's been so long since I learned my first High F's and G's (41 years) that I think people like myself and my other peers forget that most of us screwed around with chop settings and stuff first. Then within a matter of weeks we kinda learned the "trick". That was my experience in the game.
One day I envied that fellow high school kid who could play a solid High D* like he meant it. The next week I was pounding the F and G above his D.
So I'm not sure that the advice to "just practice more" is all that advisable. Especially if the youngster is prone to over training. And if he does over train? He'll be far worse off for the wear. "Work smart not hard" very applicable to this one.
Its a trick. Or it often could be so make no mistake about it. Perhaps this is the dirty little secret of the game. That said there are ways of facilitating a way to learn the trick which works for you.
Not surprisingly whenever I discover what i think is a good idea about anything I'm more likely to promote the concept. Probably to the exclusion of other ideas people (besides myself) came up with. So of course I suggest those struggling with register do a T/M search on my "ZEV" and "T/STF" concepts. Neither is a trick per se but does allow at least the ability to play notes in excess of High C.
The trumpet player wishing to play high notes who adapts ZEV and T/STF is like the kid putting on hockey skates: Just because you wear a pair of them won't automatically turn you into Bobby Orr. But at least with them on you will be able to skate on ice.
Another story/brag share I like to tell concerning how high note production is a "learned skill" and not so much a condition that requires tons of practice is from the mid 1980's:
I'd put the horn down for some six months for whatever reason I can't remember now exactly. Had no intention of quitting but perhaps the new business I was starting pulled me away from the horn for this length of time. then one day an old college trumpet playing buddy of mine from marching bland came by to talk old times. I told him I hadn't blown a note since last September.
"Betcha lost yer chops" he says.
"I don't think so" I replied.
There then followed a bet over five bucks that I could pull the horn cold out of the case and nail some high note accurately without any warm up. Just getting the lips wet and blowing the note. He suggested a High C. I told him that note was too easy and that I had a better than 50/50 chance of nailing the F above C dead on. He scoffed that it was impossible after a five month lay off. We then went on to describe what was meant by "dead on" accurate. That it meant nailing the note without hitting even the slightest note above or below.
With that I wet my lips on cold chops and cold horn and popped out the High F perfectly. At good volume too.
Being a nice guy I forgave his debt of the five bucks.
So if it is a "learned skill"? Probably best that the younger kids not push themselves too much. The reason i like to suggest those slightly shallower user friendly mouthpieces. He who practices high notes the most without over training or undue arm pressure is the character who learns the quickest.
But it is a trick. So my experience says. The reason that to this day i like to experiment with alternative embouchure settings. helps put me back in the mind of that same 15 year old kid who learned to play high notes so long ago.
*This peer in school was using a real scream piece too i might add the Al Cass 3x4 I own of these today and it isn't my shallowest piece either.