My sure-fire way to the upper register is to learn to REALLY play the middle and lower register first. That is where endurance, musicality and accuracy are built. The brain then receives a foundation upon which highnotes make sense. Then they are actually quite easy.
Building a skyscraper before the first couple of stories are solid is a good way to have your house come tumbling down.
There are methods for achieving mechanical security in the upper register. Without the musical basis, those notes just crash. The methods out their train advanced breathing, lots of lip slurs and long tones.
Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
First you need to make sure you are not using arm muscles (pressing the mouthpiece harder against the lips to go higher) to play the notes.
Second, find simple songs you'd find in your first book (ex:Easy Steps to the Band) and work on taking the songs up an octave. You will not sound good when you start but think about it, you didn't sound good when you started playing low notes.
Here's a little something while humorus has some pearls of wisdom. Also you might want to check out Mouthpiece Pressure Assessment:
1. First, you have to not suck. If you suck, go practice until you donít suck anymore. If you still suck after lots of practice, switch to trombone, where you donít HAVE to play well.
2. Nnnno, I think you still suck. Go practice some more.
3. Back already? Look, STOP READING AND GO PRACTICE UNTIL YOU DONíT SUCK!!!
4. Buy a big mouthpiece. If you have a big mouthpiece, then you must be able to play higher. Pick up a baritone, for instance. See how you can absolutely wail over everyone else who plays baritone? Go buy a big mouthpiece. Not a DEEP mouthpiece, thatís just stupid. Ask for something with a huge backbore.
5. Make sure youíre not playing on a crappy horn. The higher you go, the more magnified crap becomes. Thatís why you canít suck. If you suck, then youíll sound REAL CRAPPY if you DO play high, and give the rest of us a bad name.
6. Cheater mouthpieces donít work. Instead of buying a cheater mouthpiece thatís supposed to make you play high, why donít you use that 80 bucks to buy 2 hours of private lessons with someone who can help you play high on your own?
7. NEVER, EVER talk to or hang out with people who think that range doesnít matter.
8. Hang out with cool people who can play higher than you.
9. If someone says that they can play an unrealistic note, ignore them until you hear it.
10. Donít worry if you sound bad when you start playing high. You sounded bad when you started playing low, too, didnít you?
11. If you cram the horn into your face, you will a) Stop all vibrations in your lips and thus be unable to play high. b) Cut off the circulation to your lips and thus kill them forever. c) Bust out all your front teeth. d) Look REALLY stupid. e) SOUND LIKE ASS. If you do this, we will hunt you down.
12. Wearing funny hats will increase your range.
13. Practice with no pressure. If you use no pressure to play all the low and middle notes, as soon as you add a TINY BIT of pressure, youíll skyrocket.
14. Monette horns are for people with too much money and not enough skill to play seriously. They still look cool, however. If anyone has one, jack it and sell it somewhere.
15. Long tones are your friends. Play notes until you have no air left, and then play for 1 beat longer. Do long tones like that for a half hour every day for a week, and youíll see everything about your playing suddenly jump.
16. Lip slurs are your friends. Play every lip slur you can think of until you canít play real notes anymore, and then play pedal tones until your lips tingle.
17. Pedal tones are your friends. If you play REALLY high, you should also play REALLY low to counteract the highnessí effects. And stuff.
18. Note-bending exercises help to cool your chops off. Try bending notes down 1, 2, or even 3 half steps after you play high.
19. REST AS MUCH AS YOU PLAY.
20. You can buy all sorts of modifications to your horn to make it less sucky, but if YOU suck, they wonít help.
21. If you think that itís going to be hard, then it will be. Just relax and play, and itíll come out.
22. Trying to impress members of the opposite sex with range only works if they play your instrument. Any other time, they will look at you weird and run off.
23. If something is hard, then put the horn down for 5 minutes, donít play, and pick it up again. I PROMISE it will be easier.
24. Listen to everything you can get your hands on.
25. Donít try to be Chet Baker. Everyone hates him.
26. Playing trumpet during sex is usually a bad idea.
27. Keep your stomach muscles tense while playing, and compress your abdomen like a huge air tank.
28. There are 3 things needed to play high: Compression, Airspeed, and Endurance. Practice all 3.
29. You can practice airspeed by taking your mouthpiece out and blowing as much air through it as fast as you can. If youíre using the appropriate amount, youíll hear a whistle from the mouthpiece.
30. Playing builds endurance. Play as often as you can.
31. However, donít play so long that youíre injuring yourself. This is bad.
32. If your parents tell you to stop practicing because they want to go to bed, youíre practicing enough.
33. Half-valving up to a note makes it easier to play.
34. If anyone whoís not a trumpet player tells you that you sound bad, tell them to bite you.
35. Whatever note you hit, remember: thereís always a note above it.
36. Use more air than you think you need.
37. If you see a dark tunnel with a light at the end and dead relatives beckoning to you, youíre using too much air, and should back off a tad.
38. You wonít get range immediately. Be content with a half step greater every month.
39. Thereís always a jazz chart that has a final note 1 step above the highest note you can play.
40. The speed of sound is 332 meters per second, which, relatively speaking, is REEEL slow. If you play a high note with a group, and it doesnít come out right away, leave it alone. If you hit it after the fact, everyone will know that you missed it the first time.
41. If you hang out with people that sound a certain way, youíll start to sound like them. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.
42. If you blow a high note during a solo, do a fall off of it and moonwalk. People will think itís intentional and REALLY COOL.
43. If you practice a lot, youíll get better. If you practice a lot and practice INTELLIGENTLY, youíll get WAY better. Practice smart.
44. Donít do anything that will permanently injure, disfigure, or damage your lips.
45. Method books by famous people are stupid. Sure, they didnít get where they are by not knowing ANYTHING, but face it: You know that they ALL played out of SOME other method book while they were growing up. Go find out what THEY used, and then use THAT book.
46. Just to save you some time: Arturo Sandoval used a Stamp method book.
47. Most people donít have any clue how high a trumpet can play. If you play a note that sounds somewhat higher than whatís going on around you, and make it INTENSE, everyone will jump up and down and shout ďOH MY GOD! HEíS PLAYING HIGH!Ē
48. If you practice a lot, and still canít play high, try a) Pushing your tuning slide in all the way. b) Standing on a chair. See??? Itís easier than you thought!
49. Everyone moves their eyebrows when theyíre playing high. Noone knows why.
50. Play music like you mean it.
Youíve spent too much time reading this. You should be practicing!
Your post brightened my morning. Thanks.
#25 is my favorite!
I've thought about handing people my trumpet when they say I suck, see if they can play even half as well as I can....lol
1994 Bach Strad Model 43+Bach Megatone 3C=WILL (aka me!)
Bob Grier, An Old Pro
Web Cam trumpet & jazz improvisation lessons
Patience and time are a major part of the equation, alongside of solid fundamentals and practice. For me, I can't say what happened - I was in 7th grade and my range went from top space E to High C, seemingly overnight, and that's right where it stayed until I was about 27. It's weird but over the last 5 years or so, I've been gaining about a half step of usable range every other year, as well as better endurance, and I'm not sure why because I don't practice nearly as much as I did when I was younger - I just don't have the time.
I mean, I'm no Maynard - my usable range is about an E above high C now, and some days it's an F. Several years back I was hit or miss even on Ds.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity"
"At my signal, unleash hell."
- Maximus Decimus Meridius
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