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newbie high notes

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Regular Member

Joined: 20 Mar 2020
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:02 am    Post subject: newbie high notes Reply with quote

Hi! Im a trumpet newbie, I play for about 4 months, I dont have a teacher, I ve learned mostly from youtube videos.

The question is this, when you re playing higher notes -for example middle C- you do this by:

a)bring your lips closer to the teeth making a trumpet face and the more exagerated trumpet face the higher the note?

b)close the aperture between the lips by closing the lips?

Which of the two is the correct way?

Also, the highest note I can play is middle C, and the problem is I strain and tighten my throat and all facial muscles. Is this wrong?
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Heavyweight Member

Joined: 24 Dec 2008
Posts: 2165

PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Embouchure requirements vary from player to player so we can't really give you anything more than general information. You need to be working with someone who can actually observe what you're doing and give you guidance.

I can tell you only about my personal approach. If you were to watch me ascend the scale you wouldn't notice me making any adjustments at all. That's because everything is happening inside the mouthpiece. I'm definitely not making a "trumpet face" or grimacing or appearing to strain.

What I'm doing primarily is adjusting the relative lip to lip compression and position and keeping the air flowing. The adjustments are extremely slight.

If you're straining you're not doing it correctly. Range is almost entirely a technique thing, not a strength thing. Admittedly, it is a very difficult thing to teach and to master. That much is obvious because so many players have so much difficulty with range.

Typically the problem is that they're trying to do too much, they have an incorrect conception of what is involved, they're looking for instant results and abandon anything that doesn't give instant results (even things that will give results with more practice).

For most players it takes a long time to develop range. If you can understand the principles involved and are diligent in employing them you will be way ahead of the curve. Pops McLaughlin has some publications which can help explain things. One of them is called "How the Chops Work." I don't know if he still offers that exact publication but I'm confident he has something he can send you that will give you accurate information and a good place to start.

His website is www.bbtrumpet.com
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Heavyweight Member

Joined: 24 Dec 2018
Posts: 980
Location: Endwell NY USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My guess is that it's likely you've started doing some bad muscle use and lip positioning. It's critical to understand that for playing up to about G above the staff, it is a matter of learning the SKILL, and not so much muscle use or mouthpiece pressure.
Trumpet playing is a learned skill, not a matter of strength. Trying to use strength to remedy a lack of skill will lead to injury, and a reduction in playing ability.

It is bad to STRETCH your lips tight and thin like rubber bands.
Its is bad to SMASH your lips flat and tight with high mouthpiece pressure.
Learn to tighten your lips (embouchure) to provide a durable strong cushion for the mouthpiece.

Use pressure from your lower jaw and teeth to press your lower lip forward against the mouthpiece rim - NOT pulling the mouthpiece inward onto your lip. The amount of mouthpiece pressure against your lips varies by pitch and must be controlled.
Usually -
lower notes - primarily upper lip light pressure
middle notes - balanced upper and lower pressure
upper notes - increased lower lip pressure to ALLOW the upper lip to vibrate.

I've recently been looking at Jonathan Ruff's website and youtube, I think his approach is good -
but don't worry about or attempt very high pitched squeals ...

King Super 20 (S2 1048, HN White)
Bach 7
The 'next note' is the most important one.
Don't take a '20 minute mouthpiece' to a 1 hour session.
Looking out my backdoor
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Regular Member

Joined: 07 May 2019
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:43 am    Post subject: Re: newbie high notes Reply with quote

trumpetgreece wrote:
Hi! Im a trumpet newbie, I play for about 4 months,

About the only answer I can give is "keep practicing."

When I first picked up my trumpet and started playing, I had to strain and push to reach D within-the-staff. And I couldn't always count on grabbing it when I reached.

But as time passed, I found that upper E-flat and E were no longer impossible goals, and I could play them without any unusual effort. Then came top-of-staff G, and so on.

Today, I can reliably reach the Holy Grail high-C, and on a good day, I can even manage a respectable DHC.

Point is, I never put any special effort into raising my top range. I just concentrated (still do) on getting a good sound out of my horn. That, plus practicing every day. When I did these things, the high range improvements came naturally.

My only recommendation would be practice regularly, and strive for the best sound you can get. That and Patience was what did the trick for me.
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