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Explaining Upper Register to Students



 
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MattDaigleTrumpet
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Joined: 17 Aug 2020
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:24 pm    Post subject: Explaining Upper Register to Students Reply with quote

Hi all,

I wanted to hear some of your ideas on successful ways of explaining upper register playing to students who may struggle with it or to beginners. Also, what are some exercises you like to use when introducing the upper register to students and for students that struggle with playing up there.

I'm a huge advocate of air flow and air pressure without excessive force or straining. I find using chromatic scale exercises like Clarke 1 and flexibility exercises like Irons or Colins are very effective.

Let's hear your ideas, please!


Last edited by MattDaigleTrumpet on Tue Aug 25, 2020 7:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've attempted to describe and explain some of the 'basics' in this document -
http://users.hancock.net/jkosta/Embouchure_Basic_Concepts.docx
It's a short read, and might help clarify your thoughts about what to explain and what words to use.

A common issue for many players is that they develop the habit of using high mouthpiece pressure to play higher notes. I think this is because of the 'popular images' of some trumpet pros obviously doing it when they are playing EXTREMELY high.

Jay
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before range can be approached successfully, the player must be able to play low to mid range notes with some efficiency of effort.

Most young players use excessive embouchure effort on the low notes due to the high-effort approach they are often taught, along with the instinct to use such excessive effort.

One primary cause is the mouthpiece buzzing or free-buzz that beginners are required to do.

So first of all, stop mp buzzing and free buzzing if you are requiring that.

Second, solidify soft attacks on low notes , not air attacks.

Then do small intervals with valves first. No lip slurs.

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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tell them the notes are higher and they need to practice to get them. And once they do, they need to wait until the grow into the notes, sort of like growing taller.

You can shout and try to force it, but you usually don’t win...
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it's possible to explain it in a meaningful way to a beginner - the experience of playing higher - say high C and higher is completely removed from the experience of a kid who's struggling to hit even a not great third space C.

Even after playing for years I couldn't play a high C that I felt like I really owned. What it feels like to me to play now is completely different than it did at that stage.

You're doing something different every half step higher you go - you get familiarity with the territory as you advance.
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trumpetmike
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never, ever call the notes "high"
Some are higher than others, but when notes ae called "high" it can give students (especially younger ones) a sense of panic.

Build a solid low/middle register and then gradually build up the upper register.

Whatever students/band director/parents think - there is NO rush to play a Dubba C
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Benson
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello All,

I've been teaching beginners now for 18 years. Daryl is 100% correct. I've found mouthpiece buzzing to be more detrimental to their overall development. The natural physics of such a short tube means that they immediately play with too much tension and force. The problem is pervasive from music teacher forums on Facebook and the like. The answer given when anyone asks this question is, "Use more air."

When students can't play above say 3rd space C, dollars to donuts their aperture is way too big. I hammer home with kids to not let their mouth get too big. When students hear "more air" they simply blow their faces wide open. I see it every single day. I was one of those kids 30+ years ago who was told to blow harder and never understood why my range was stunted. Instead, after reminding them to back off, grip onto the mouthpiece (like Claude Gordon writes about), the new notes come out. Don't blow so hard!

In addition, they need to have an efficient sound production. Our Bill Adam friends know the importance of leadpipe playing. I have found this is the most efficient way to teach efficiency to kids. If they can get a great sound on the leadpipe, then they aren't over or under blowing. Their is a secondary benefit of tonguing. The leadpipe allows students and teachers to hear their aren't stopping the air with their tongue.

But I've taken it a bit further. When students get to around middle line Bb, I have them remove their tuning slide and put it back onto the leadpipe, but not connected to the rest of the horn. The tuning slide will be directed towards their face. Play that. It should sound a 3rd line C. This is comfortable, and can be played without blowing like made (try it!). We want the sound without blowing like a crazy person. Kids can feel the air in their faces. Tongue a bunch. It should be easy and free. This exercise over a couple of lessons gets the C up to about E solid.

In a while, if they remove the tuning slide again and play higher, the leadpipe will sound a top space G. Go through the process again. It's a comfortable way to get an efficient sound production on top of the staff. Put the tuning slide half way on again and it will sound a High C. I don't get to that with my beginners, but it works.

Finally, and this is the deficiency of every single beginning band method on the market, students aren't given the opportunity to play simple melodies in their new ranges. New notes are taught piecemeal and in congress with new rhythmic concepts, meter, key, and so on. It's overwhelming to students. Not only do they need to understand these new higher notes that require coordination of air, lip, tongue, and so forth, they have to dance around seeing 3/4, 2/4, Bb, 1st and 2nd endings, or something else - and we wonder why kids get frustrated, use pressure, and sound awful.

Give students the opportunity to learn one thing at a time. To help with this, I have written out simple melodies, Hot Cross Buns, Mary Had A Little Lamb, Jingle Bells, using the new notes. Stuff they know. Make it easy. Allow them the opportunity to focus on sound production in their new register. Bill Knevitt wrote an entire book based off of this concept. I've adapted it for our youngest learners.

Yes, this turned out to be a longer post than intended, but when taking an approach as described, students learn efficiency and ease in their playing when they are young. I'm not making this up, I start students in 4th grade. When students walk out of 5th grade, they are reading up to 4th line D with ease. They are warming up and play up to G, some even further. They have the physical abilities to play high. It makes me smile ear to ear when I have 11 year 60lbs kids articulating top space Gs. These notes aren't high, just require a different feel to get there. I hope this helped.
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Craig Swartz
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tell them nothing at first. Show them.

Make certain you give them recordings of what you think they ought to be able to do, or better yet, demo to them yourself. If they don't hear it and find some sort of motivation to get there themselves, not much you ever tell them will mean a damn thing.

Every time I heard someone playing higher than I was in Jr High or HS, I started trying to go higher and was doing DHC in HS around 1969. I'd originally been led to believe by some moron teacher that "high C" was about it for trumpet. Well, then my older brother started playing some Glenn Miller records and whaddya know? They seemed to get higher. Then I heard someone in the background of my second "idol"- Herb Alpert, going up to a B above that high C in one of his last albums, So guess what I tried to do? And some trumpet player in a group called A.B. Skyy, or something like that who way was up in the stratosphere... What ever happened to high C? I'd left that behind a long time ago...

I also heard some good HS players at my first music camp in 9th grade playing things "up and octave" and it occurred to me, dumb as I was, that this was an excellent way to push the range, so that's what I started doing so long as it didn't get me in trouble with the band teacher...

Now, there'll be aspiring students along the way that are already motivated to perform in the altissimo register who may need some guidance, and that's all well and good, but if the person doesn't have a clue, or the motivation in the first place, you're wasting your time. I've had something like 50 years experience in teaching and playing to reach that conclusion, FWTHIW. Good luck, though.
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BBB1976
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2020 4:07 pm    Post subject: Explaining upper register to students Reply with quote

I think it depends on what the student needs.
Generally, I like to think about faster compression of air.
Alot of it is about the correct feel and self discovering things
through proper practice. As you say Charles Colin is excellent.
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