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Trouble playing High and wondering if its even possible


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Jerryardo
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:17 pm    Post subject: Trouble playing High and wondering if its even possible Reply with quote

Hey! Im new here and I wanted to see if I could get some help. I have looked at so many videos and listened to so many people on how to play high and different techniques and everything. Im a freshmen in high-school my highest comfortable note i can play is an F on the staff(yea i know). I can play up to a high C but not actually while playing a song. Only when I try tongue arch. The problem with that is that I cant articulate the actual notes when using tongue arch. I have tried tonguing with the middle of my tongue and it works but I cant stop the air once I tongue like you would while playing a staccato note. That makes the articulation sound very sloppy and horrible. This makes me think I am trying the tongue arch wrong. While using it i can feel my lip touch my tongue and im not sure if thats how its supposed to be. I keep my tip of the tongue behind my bottom teeth like people say I should but i dont know if im doing it properly. I have tried so much and Im now thinking that its because I have a cupid bow or tear drop top lip. I also have an overbite. Whats weird is that recently when I gave tongue arch a try it was actually working out for me me. I was able to play up to high Es while articulating and with good volume. I tried the next day and it was gone i was no longer able to. It has been a very frustrating journey and im wondering if I should just not even try. If any of you have any tips or information I would really appreciate it.
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You mentioned getting it to work before so I expect you could get it to work again.

Adding the tongue to a slur (up or down) adds another motion to coordinate and it will take time and patience to train this. From your description I bet you aren't consistently tonguing in the same place. If your tongue meets the back of the front teeth (instead of the hard or soft palate) then the back of the tongue can rise naturally to form the arch. It's probably OK for the tip of your tongue to meet the back of your lower lip but it shouldn't nudge the lip enough to move your embouchure out of position.

Make this training a balanced but regular part of your technical routine. The sloppy sound of the attack suggests a potential embouchure issue so some soft long tones could help focus your embouchure and remind you of how a natural relaxed setting feels. As you train a new technique, your results won't be consistent but your approach and practice routine need to be consistent to learn the skill. If you get frustrated with inconsistency, do finish out the routine as best as you can but accept you may not like the sound yet and don't force notes or allow bad habits to take over to get a certain note.

For technical practice take whatever lip slur routine you do and repeat the drill tongued after slurring the usual way. As you are able to do this consistently try the same thing (slurring then tonguing) with music you can play easily and play it up a step, then up another step, etc., and see how high you can go comfortably.
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS - lip shape and bite may have some influence on what the correct position feels like, or even whether someone is a natural high player, but I think these factors are probably overrated. If you get jaw tension when playing that could be an issue but it should be possible to find a more relaxed setting and a natural horn angle. If you're keeping the corners of your mouth stable and the center of your lips more supple you'll find a natural setup for your shape.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My view about tongue arch is that the actual benefit comes from the way that your lips and jaw are affected by the muscular effort of doing the tongue arch. So keep your embouchure in complete control when you add the effort of tongue arch.

You can also read my brief thoughts about embouchure here -
http://users.hancock.net/jkosta/Embouchure_Basic_Concepts.docx

Playing high notes is a learned skill, not a 'power sport'. Relying on mouthpiece pressure for high notes is bad, and will eventually lead to pain or injury.

Jay
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is the lip state that determines the note played and the tone quality. Please don't believe all the nonsense explanations about how the tongue arch controls the pitch by air compression or air speed etc.

The "explanations" of how and why tongue arch controls pitch are purely metaphorical, not literal. Dont buy it literally.

The tongue naturally moves in tandem with certain embouchure muscular efforts. Tongue movements alone will not give you results. But don't deny movement either.
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etc-etc
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try to produce the sound by action of your embouchure without involving the lungs. You can call this technique is a "tongue clamp" because the back side of the tongue needs to be raised in order to stop the motion of the air between your lungs and the embouchure.

Work out all the notes from the bottom F# up to wherever your range tops out. You will not be able to play any of these notes for a very long time, as air will be very limited. However, for higher notes the air will last longer.

You will find out that your top range will become much more accessible. That will happen as the inside of your oral cavity has the capacity for developing a much higher air pressure compared to your lungs.

Work on making the notes sound as long as possible without losing the quality of tone and keeping the volume steady.

You are now one step away from circular breathing.

Once all the notes start sounding even and consistent, both in volume and tone, start replenishing the air in your oral cavity by the air from the lungs. The oral cavity becomes a buffer periodically refilled from the lungs. Ideally, it should be impossible to tell when you are switching the air supply.

Results:
1) even tone;
2) efficient use of air;
3) right amount of pressure;
4) correct position of embouchure;
5) increased range;
6) increased endurance;
7) improved tone quality;
8) mastery of circular breathing;
9) amazed looks from the audience;
10) higher self-confidence;
11) compliments from the MD;
12) ... fill in everything else.
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Trouble playing High and wondering if its even possible Reply with quote

Jerryardo wrote:
Hey! Im new here and I wanted to see if I could get some help.

As someone who was once President of the "It seems like it's impossible to get a handle on playing higher notes" club two things.

You have to change the mechanics of how you're playing. Trying harder to develop a setup that isn't working well will yield at best only marginal improvement. That could involve a number of things - maybe including your mouthpiece placement, how you're putting the mp on your lips, angle of the horn, opening of the teeth, pressure distribution, how you're using the facial muscles and other elements. However, when you've made the right adjustments your experience of what it feels like to play will be totally different.

Post video of yourself playing with a good view of your embouchure - scales, chromatic scales - something that gives an idea of your basic mechanics and sound and takes you to the problem zone of your range.

Do you have any odd teeth shape/alignment issues? What mouthpiece are you using?
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Jerryardo
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Trouble playing High and wondering if its even possible Reply with quote

Post video of yourself playing with a good view of your embouchure - scales, chromatic scales - something that gives an idea of your basic mechanics and sound and takes you to the problem zone of your range.

Do you have any odd teeth shape/alignment issues? What mouthpiece are you using?[/quote]

My teeth are pretty normal but I do have an overbite. I also have a cupids bow top lip. I am using a bach 5c. And im not sure how I can post a video on here :/ Do you have any tips on how to find the proper setup for my lips?
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Trouble playing High and wondering if its even possible Reply with quote

Jerryardo wrote:
Robert P wrote:
Post video of yourself playing with a good view of your embouchure - scales, chromatic scales - something that gives an idea of your basic mechanics and sound and takes you to the problem zone of your range.

Do you have any odd teeth shape/alignment issues? What mouthpiece are you using?

My teeth are pretty normal but I do have an overbite. I also have a cupids bow top lip. I am using a bach 5c. And im not sure how I can post a video on here :/ Do you have any tips on how to find the proper setup for my lips?

You can set up a free Youtube account and upload it there and post the link here. You can upload video to Google drive but it's going to be harder on people trying to watch it since they have to download the whole raw video - with Youtube it gets reduced in size considerably due to their compression.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:28 am    Post subject: Re: Trouble playing High and wondering if its even possible Reply with quote

Jerryardo wrote:
...
My teeth are pretty normal but I do have an overbite. I also have a cupids bow top lip. I am using a bach 5c. ... Do you have any tips on how to find the proper setup for my lips?

-----------------
An overbite is common and not a problem. The lower jaw can be pressed forward so some mouthpiece pressure is transferred from the upper lip onto the lower lip. Doing that makes the upper lip able to vibrate by not being locked in position by the rim.

Lip setup - the goal is to 'solidify' your lips so they vibrate at the desired pitch. The embouchure muscle effort is a coordinate 'isometric contraction' to produce the needed lip stiffness.
Attempting to produce high lip tension by ONLY stretching your lip tissue is not good.

Jay
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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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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I fought with range problems and endurance problems for decades. Tension in the embouchure kills endurance.

About a year and a half ago I started working with the Balanced Embouchure. I did that while still performing on my old embouchure so I could keep gigging. Over time the Balanced Embouchure concepts crept into my playing. I can now use F#s above high C and can play above that when not fatigued. I can play 90 minute sets without trouble.

Some things work for one person but not another. You have to find what works for you. For me, the K tongue modified setup works. If my tongue is not forward it limits my range. The feel of the K Tongue setup fits right in with tongue arch. I have heard all the arguments about the validity of tongue arch. I don't really care if it only happens because it goes along with other embouchure changes. It works for me as a concept.
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pepperdean
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You mention your lack of a concrete direction after reading and watching so many web entries. This is the problem of the internet. There is so much information without specifics about how it applies to you or how you should use the information. A good teacher is the key to unlock the mystery for you. A teacher will observe and determine your particular challenges: too tense/too loose, poor mouthpiece placement, lack of development, over-blowing, etc. After that observation, a good teacher will then discard inappropriate practice regimes and will tailor a plan specifically for you.

It's been said so may times, though this is my first (I think), 'get a teacher.' You don't need to commit to weekly lessons. A consultation with a good teacher, periodically, will provide substantial help for you.

Best of luck for your development.

Alan
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He watched one of those videos that uses false science to push a narrative regarding the tongue arch.

Specifically, one that says:, the tongue arch is the 2nd stage of "compression", and "compression" determines the pitch

He thought that this was literally correct and that the arch somehow directly controls the pitch. (Yes, players actually believe this.)

The same scenario occurred with me when i was a young player. Of course there was no favorable result so somehow I did it all wrong.
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Jerryardo
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pepperdean wrote:
You mention your lack of a concrete direction after reading and watching so many web entries. This is the problem of the internet. There is so much information without specifics about how it applies to you or how you should use the information. A good teacher is the key to unlock the mystery for you. A teacher will observe and determine your particular challenges: too tense/too loose, poor mouthpiece placement, lack of development, over-blowing, etc. After that observation, a good teacher will then discard inappropriate practice regimes and will tailor a plan specifically for you.

It's been said so may times, though this is my first (I think), 'get a teacher.' You don't need to commit to weekly lessons. A consultation with a good teacher, periodically, will provide substantial help for you.

Best of luck for your development.

Alan


Thank you, Im all for getting a teacher but I cant or dont know how to find any. My band directors are useless they've seen me struggle but dont wanna help.
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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take a Skype lesson or two or weekly, or whatever. I would recommend trying a few with Jeff Smiley. But there are many great teachers who will teach you online.
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Denny Schreffler
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:41 am    Post subject: Tongue Arch Experiment Reply with quote

kalijah wrote:
... Please don't believe all the nonsense explanations about how the tongue arch controls the pitch ...

The "explanations" of how and why tongue arch controls pitch are purely metaphorical, not literal. Dont buy it literally.



He watched one of those videos that uses false science to push a narrative regarding the tongue arch.

Specifically, one that says:, the tongue arch is the 2nd stage of "compression", and "compression" determines the pitch

He thought that this was literally correct and that the arch somehow directly controls the pitch. (Yes, players actually believe this.)

...


Hi, Darryl,


Try this – d’load a strobe app to your phone. Strobily is good and it’s free.

With a totally unformed embouchure – jaws closed, teeth together – with unforced expiration as much as possible – lower the tongue to UHHH in the extreme. Let the lips flap on the steady air. Alternate between the low tongue position and a high tongue position – uuhhh – eeee – uuhhh – eeee a few times to get the feeling. All on an unformed embouchure When I'm doing this, I plant the tip of my tongue at the lower gum line.

Even doing this it’s hard for me to not think that I feel that the lip flap is faster on the Hi tongue , but ...

in a dark room with a mirror, try to find the frequency of your low-tongue, lip flap with the strobe. Mine is down in the 16Hz range. When you get pretty good stabilization from the strobe on the low tongue (like a timing light on a '65 Sunbeam Tiger or using a strobe to adjust an LP turntable) – and without changing anything other than tongue position as much as possible – the pitch changes.

The frequency adjustment of the app is so slow that I don’t try to “find” the upper frequency. Sometime soon, I’ll try to get close to the hi tongue (higher frequency) and then use two phones – one set for the low freq and one set for the higher. If you choose to do that, let me know.

You could say that this is not a playing situation and you'd be right but it is a pretty simple and repeatable experiment which demonstrates that tongue position affects the frequency of the lips.

And, please let me know that you’ve tried the basic, non-metaphysical experiment

-Denny
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even for lips "flapping" as you say. Its the lip tension that determines the frequency.

If the frequency changes its due to a tensioning of the lips.

In practical use it is very difficult to decouple the tongue, lips, and jaw state. Which is exactly why allowing the tongue to rise to ascend in pitch is not to be discouraged.

I tried your experiment. There was no change in flapping frequency with various tonge positions.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kalijah wrote:
...
In practical use it is very difficult to decouple the tongue, lips, and jaw state. Which is exactly why allowing the tongue to rise to ascend in pitch is not to be discouraged. ...

-------------------------------------
Yes, I agree with that.
And when the tongue is consciously (or as a trained habit) moved into position, the 'coupling' also affects the lips and jaw. That is why some people place emphasis on tongue position beyond allowing it to happen - they 'make it happen' because of the effect it has on lips and jaw.

Jay
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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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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What worked for me may not work for you but...

I played for over 2 decades and studied multiple teachers. I still couldn't play above the bar well (a G was a struggle). I tried to focus more and more on belly breathing but I couldn't improve. The more I focused, the more facial muscle power I tended to apply. My breathing was simply awful. I'm surprised nobody ever saw a mouthpiece come out of the back of my head because yes, I applied that much power. I just couldn't relax.

At some point, I just tossed all of it out the window and decided try the Bill Adam method (to be fair, not the full method but rather a few basic pointers I got off the interweb). I focused on my sound, ignoring what my body did. Most importantly however, I stopped working hard. Whenever I played a tone that took effort, I stopped playing. At first, that was anything under the middle G. But in time I managed to go higher and higher, and my chops adjusted to the new 'no effort' playstyle.

So yeah, you can focus and finetune your lip settings, breathing and whatnot. It may help. But too much focus could also be what's holding you back.
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wilder
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pepperdean wrote:
You mention your lack of a concrete direction after reading and watching so many web entries. This is the problem of the internet. There is so much information without specifics about how it applies to you or how you should use the information. A good teacher is the key to unlock the mystery for you. A teacher will observe and determine your particular challenges: too tense/too loose, poor mouthpiece placement, lack of development, over-blowing, etc. After that observation, a good teacher will then discard inappropriate practice regimes and will tailor a plan specifically for you.

It's been said so may times, though this is my first (I think), 'get a teacher.' You don't need to commit to weekly lessons. A consultation with a good teacher, periodically, will provide substantial help for you.

Best of luck for your development.

Alan
YES. GET OFF THE INTERNET AND GET A TEACHER. jw
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