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The Fallacy of Extreme Range Criticism


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INTJ
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:52 pm    Post subject: The Fallacy of Extreme Range Criticism Reply with quote

I frequently hear some say that being able to play to DHC and above is of little value unless you have power and facility for all the notes on the way. Accusations are thrown about that those of us who can are bragging about squeaks, and then when videos of full volume notes are posted the criticism moves to how even the full volume notes are useless unless you can play bebop solos up there.

I personally am very transparent as I describe my amateur level of playing and range, and I typically see that transparency here from most. I can play to DHD every day in practice and my gigable range is G/A above High C for the limit of my endurance. When playing lead on Basie stuff my useable range can fall to Eb/F. (That is an issue of me playing with too much tension as a result of thinking about sound and musical lines incorrectly and is a work in progress for me.)

The way range seems to develop is we learn how to play the high notes and then develop endurance and facility to those notes. It has often been said that one’s reliable range is a third to a fourth less than their extreme range. So I would fully expect a player with a solid G above High C to be able to play at least to DHC. Maybe it’s not a powerful DHC but it’s probably pretty consistent.

When we are approaching the upper range correctly we don’t usually just shut off at the top of our playable range. We normally can play a third to fourth above it with decreasing volume until we fade away.

The value in playing those notes in our extreme upper range—correctly, with the right amount of air support and without straining—is that as we develop those notes the notes underneath become more secure and our endurance improves.

I find that it takes a LOT of practice to develop and gain full command of those notes above G/A above High C. I am not willing to take the time to develop that range to a playable level when I have so much other stuff to work on, and having facility to G above High C with an occasional higher note is enough to play lead on the vast majority of charts.

However, I do take the time to touch those notes everyday. At present I spend 10-20 minutes of a 2 hr practice session focused on high range. The rest of the time is spent on lead style and harmonic development (Improv).
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JVL
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hello,

my jazz teacher in conservatory, was a tremendous swinging powerful lead trumpet player. He toped to High G (sometimes could play a A), but owned completely this High G, through all the gig.

so, there's no necessarily a difference between your practice top note and your gig top note.

best
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INTJ
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JVL wrote:
hello,

so, there's no necessarily a difference between your practice top note and your gig top note.

best


I have come across many more players whose extreme range is a third or fourth over their gigable range. Most players I come across whose gigable range is the same their extreme range don’t have much range above High C. Yes, there are always some exceptions to any general concept.

When my range suddenly cuts off, it usually means I am using too much tension and/or are too open. To fix that I back off, set properly, and release those extreme high notes. And it turns out when I play my gigable range with the reduced tension required to get my extreme range, my gigable range becomes very easy.
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jkarnes0661
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

INTJ, +1 to everything you said, especially your comment about range suddenly cutting off. Happened to me this afternoon playing a big band gig. All of a sudden I couldn't get an E to come out on a chart we hadn't played in a while. Took a moment to think and realized that I was tensing up, pressing too hard, and blowing too hard. Undoubtedly due to the fact that I hadn't looked at the chart in a while. Shook it off, relaxed, backed off, and on the next chart, which had some F's and G's, the notes were right back where they usually are in the practice room.

The longer I play, the more I find it's my mental practice is the most important aspect I need to address. The physical aspects have to be there but I will end up working twice as hard as I need to if I'm not mentally there. For some gigs that's fine but if the gig pushes the limits of my range and/or endurance, my mind better be in the game or it's all over.

To your original point, if I know I have a solid note "X", then the mental challenge to playing notes lower than that is reduced. For me, this means I have enough mental capacity left over keep my bad habits at bay (pressing, overblowing, etc). To this end, I'm continuing to work to expand my range and ease of playing in the upper register despite the fact that I hardly ever see anything higher than a G or A in the music I'm asked to play.
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cgaiii
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this thread. I find it interesting and informative. Sometimes I feel I work in a vacuum on range, but my thoughts about it closely parallel the OP. It was nice to see at least one person thinking the same way.
I played for many years not caring about range because I could play all the notes I needed, but recently with more time to practice, I have been working on it little by little, with pretty good results. I find my performance range is definitely a few steps below my reaching range, but the extra range gives confidence.
I have also experienced the cut-off phenomenon in practice. Suddenly I cannot do anything up high after just hitting the notes. That reset mentality is really necessary to get it back.
I look forward to other posts discussing this subject.
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INTJ
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also often here that some players only have “practice room range.” To me that just means they are doing things differently in rehearsal or at a gig, and I’ll bet in most cases it is a mental thing. I think that once we reach a certain level of air/chop development—which happens quicker that we think—our biggest issue is thinking about playing the wrong way and creating a bunch of excess tension.
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Rod Haney
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as squeaks I can squeak a triple c at times, but the range I know I have everyday until the last note of the gig in the fourth hour is an f. I won’t play anything above a g in performance because I’m not satisfied with the sound there yet. Squeaks do have value in making the entire range stronger and extending your range. I do about 20 minutes on high range above my comfort level and have seen some upward creap toward the all the time hi g. And as someone mentioned b4 I have more important things to master. But I have found that working on range at low volume and low tension above the diaphragm help me coordinate the process. I’d love to have a dbl c I could count on with a good sound, but unless you naturally fall into techniques it takes awhile to raise a full step with a good sound. I would be more than satisfied if I could produce hi g/a with the sound I have at lower notes, but 20 minute a day is all I’ll invest on notes wove f/g that I never (very seldom) see on a gig. Alltho many post much higher range, I still think very few actually “have” those notes truly, which to me means full , in tune, and at volume. One trip to ITG or any other big show will demonstrate this. Going to these shows always makes me feel better about my play (or at least feel better about my judgement). Many feel touching a weak out of tune note as “having” the note, to me to “have” a note includes good pitch, volume, and tone at the end of a show, not just hitting a note. But you have to squeak before you’ll ever own.
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bike&ed
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For better or worse, I have met uncountable numbers of players who either focused on the high range until it damaged them physically (myself included), and/or they can play some serious high notes quite well, but have poor fundamental musical skills. It seems to be a supremely common trumpet phenomenon.
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gabriel127
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your giggable range is your range. If you can't play it on a gig when called upon to do so, then you can't claim it.
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INTJ
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

INTJ wrote:
I also often here that some players only have “practice room range.” To me that just means they are doing things differently in rehearsal or at a gig, and I’ll bet in most cases it is a mental thing. I think that once we reach a certain level of air/chop development—which happens quicker that we think—our biggest issue is thinking about playing the wrong way and creating a bunch of excess tension.


That illustrates the incorrect way many of us used to, or perhaps still do, approach high range practice. We need to play high a lot, but it must NEVER strain. When we want to extend our range we have to be very careful of overdoing it. However, if we don’t dedicate some time to extending/maintaining our range we won’t ever improve.

Some general principles:

1. Use correct breath support. Keep tension out of your chest and neck. The Wedge Breath works great for this

2. Play softly

3. Rest a lot, 2-3 times as much as you play when developing range. You also don’t have to have a heavy range day everyday. Listen to your chops.....

4. If you fail after three attempts to get a certain note, stop and rest. Maybe end your range work, or maybe try the next higher note since range does not often come sequentially. However, NEVER force anything. We need to think of the upper range as just more notes to play and not think of them as high notes

5. Practice your range early in your practice session and build in plenty of rest immediately after

6. Visualizing a high tongue arch helps many

7. Anchor tonguing or modified K tonguing seem to be commonly used by those with a well developed upper range

8. If your competent trumpet teacher, one who themselves have a decent upper range, tells you anything different that what is in my list, DO WHAT THEY SAY. Sometimes, the guidance that works well for one level of player is not correct for a different level of player.
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INTJ
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gabriel127 wrote:
Your giggable range is your range. If you can't play it on a gig when called upon to do so, then you can't claim it.


I wasn’t intending this thread to be about bragging rights and how to apply them. It’s to point out that many many of us can consistently play notes a third to fourth above our reliable gig range, and there is value in working on that range.

Also, the way a line is written in and of itself can determine how high you can play. Shiny Stockings doesn’t go above a D, yet it’s written loud and has a lot of shakes, and of course it repeats. The Ds in Shiny Stockings are harder than the High Gs in Count Bubba. Count Bubba allows the lead player to rest and the come in at the end and there is no repeat.
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trumpetmandan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I have my head in the sand, but would anyone really contest the idea that a moderate amount of smart high range practice is worthwhile? I've never come across anyone in real life who would dispute that idea. I think that perhaps the "double C is useless" crowd is a vocal minority, found primarily on the internet.

The point that I hear argued all the time, which I think is valid, is that there is little point in an obsessive focus on the high register at the expense of your other fundamentals (similar to what bike&ed expressed).

I bet we can all agree that a player with a double C who sounds bad and a player who can't play the range required for his/her gig are both going to fall short in most situations.
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INTJ
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason for this thread is because of very recent criticism of the idea of playing in the extreme range.

Probably the absolute worst trumpet advice/instruction I ever received was to focus on tone and not worry about range because only a special few could have a strong upper range on trumpet. All I could ever be was a “tone player.” That turned out to be the best life advice for me because I quit trumpet, then quit music all together and became a USAF pilot for 24 years. Regardless, it was very bad trumpet advice.

So what I have seen is excessive focus on AVOIDING the upper range. That is one way to keep young players from hurting themselves, whenever a teacher doesn’t want/know how to teach the upper range correctly or the player lacks the disciple to practice the correct way.

I find it interesting that this kind of criticism is never leveled at a player who spends all their time learning how to improvise when they barely have a High C or D. I never see anyone tell them to focus less on esoteric bebop licks and spend a little more time developing their upper register.

Anyone should be able to develop a strong G above High C with a little effort and deliberate practice on range. When you add that range to a solid skill set of style, soloing, reading, and playing in tune; well, that’s what pro players are made of........
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Rod Haney
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

INTJ wrote:
The reason for this thread is because of very recent criticism of the idea of playing in the extreme range.

Probably the absolute worst trumpet advice/instruction I ever received was to focus on tone and not worry about range because only a special few could have a strong upper range on trumpet. All I could ever be was a “tone player.” That turned out to be the best life advice for me because I quit trumpet, then quit music all together and became a USAF pilot for 24 years. Regardless, it was very bad trumpet advice.

So what I have seen is excessive focus on AVOIDING the upper range. That is one way to keep young players from hurting themselves, whenever a teacher doesn’t want/know how to teach the upper range correctly or the player lacks the

I find it interesting that this kind of criticism is never leveled at a player who spends all their time learning how to improvise when they barely have a High C or D. I never see anyone tell them to focus less on esoteric bebop licks and spend a little more time developing their upper register.

Anyone should be able to develop a strong G above High C with a little effort and deliberate practice on range. When you add that range to a solid skill set of style, soloing, reading, and playing in tune; well, that’s what pro players are made of........


Don’t know about you but I would rather hear a strong hi g to a weak dbl. g.
And would go so far as to say I would rather hear someone play a passage down an octave musically than squeak weak notes. All notes gained start weak and can get stronger with practice, but unless you have musicality it’s a wasted effort imo. Our hi school jazz/stage band recorded 3 lps. We had a baritone player who could screech up to triples and it was generally a strong note. At most he played 1-2 notes at the end for screech effect. If there was demand for one note hero’s he would have been one of the best. He only played with us to get that screech on appropriate charts
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chet
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delano
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry but this thread is upside down. The criticism mentioned here found its cause in the way a few posters here considered people without the strong drive towards the (importance) of the DHC and beyond, as losers, poor suckers, liars, incompetent players, maybe even as some form of patients. This is not exaggerated, it's the only possible conclusion after reading their posts.
And the general advice of a very good pro I know (playing in the Ten of the best) is that instead of seeking different methods it's better to practice on the most beautiful tone possible.
Maybe you have a burning ambition to be a lead trumpet player, soit, but every solo ambition will start with the right tone.
I have witnessed several auditions for orchestral positions on trumpet, trombone and french horn and always the guy (or doll) with the best sound won, NEVER the one with the highest note, nor with the best papers or the most expensive horn, (sound I would define here roughly as something like tone + articulation + musicality, being tone the most important ingredient of it).
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INTJ
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rod Haney wrote:
Don’t know about you but I would rather hear a strong hi g to a weak dbl. g.
And would go so far as to say I would rather hear someone play a passage down an octave musically than squeak weak notes. All notes gained start weak and can get stronger with practice, but unless you have musicality it’s a wasted effort imo. Our hi school jazz/stage band recorded 3 lps. We had a baritone player who could screech up to triples and it was generally a strong note. At most he played 1-2 notes at the end for screech effect. If there was demand for one note hero’s he would have been one of the best. He only played with us to get that screech on appropriate charts
Rod


If by High G you correctly mean the one above High C, by double G you correctly mean the one above DHC; then I agree. However, you are applying those terms to notes an octave below, then my answer is I have no interest in hearing someone who hasn’t bothered to develop their range above the staff.

But again, all this misses the point. I have been exceeding clear that I am talking about playing one’s extreme range, consistently and correctly, during practice and how that is a very real benefit to one’s playing overall.
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Rod Haney
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always heard the hi g was the one above hi c and the double was an octave above that. I could play staff g after the first month I started in band at age 11. When I played inhi school I had a hi f (ahc) unless I was reading and then it dropped to e ahc. My problems start at hi g# I just can’t combine volume and pitch above hi g?🤯 I spending 20 minutes a day trying to improve range but there are other issues such as articulation and reading skill I’ll need more than range above hi e anywhere I’ll ever play at 67 years. So I’m just trying to say you and I seem to be agreement. I’ve never been critical of practicing range? I just got bigger issues than my range. I’d just rather hear a strong tone than a weak squeak🤮
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INTJ
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then you and I are in agreement. While I find practicing the extreme upper range useful, I have to fix so many other things that preclude me developing gigable range above A above High C.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gabriel127 wrote:
Your giggable range is your range. If you can't play it on a gig when called upon to do so, then you can't claim it.


OK let's hear your pianissimo high C after 25 minutes rest in a cold church. Can't nail it, can't claim it right?
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