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Could anatomy prevent high range development?


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Mgsmith88
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:32 pm    Post subject: Could anatomy prevent high range development? Reply with quote

Well here’s my first post, although I’ve used the forums for research for a decade at least. I’m curious if anyone knows if it’s possible for personal anatomy to prevent high range development. Here’s why I ask...

I admit, in my high school days and first year of undergrad, I didn’t practice nearly enough. One of the great regrets of my life. I got on track after my first year in undergrad, and after graduating (music ed) I played in one of the USMC field bands for 3 1/2 years (first ~6 months were boot camp, recruiting leave, and combat training). My technique, air support, and tone all got pretty fantastic with all of that playing and practicing. Somehow, even though I really did learn how to use air support and make a pretty darn good sound, my range never went up. Horn to face at least 4 hours a day for years. I’d think with improved air and tone, range should at least improve a bit. Practicing all of the books and techniques you could suggest. I’m talking straight up bad high range, like ugly Bb-C and not a chance of anything past that. If anything I lost a half-step or two after fixing my embouchure and not using force to squeak out high notes. Not that equipment matters, but I was on a Lawler C7, Xeno Chicago, and now back to a late 70’s strad, using a GR 65 M-B piece.

Could it be that my anatomy could have an effect here? One of my lateral incisors is quite pushed back, and has given me plenty of trouble, to the point of looking into removing it and getting an implant. This is also why anything larger than about a 5 rim has just been fruitless for me even after months of attempting to adjust. I also was required to practice an unhealthy amount at the Navy School of Music after a failed test, and ended up with a permanent scar on my lip after 4 weeks of 8 hour practice days and always wondered if I did permanent damage. Am I just being a whiny b**** and need to spend some serious time developing high range, or is there any chance it could be out of my control, or at least an extra hard battle?

Go ahead... have at it trumpetherald hive mind
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you describe what is the limiting factors for your high range?

For example, things such as -
1) Air leakage prevents air flowing thru the lips into the mouthpiece.
2) Unable to produce enough internal air pressure to result in air flow thru the lips.
3) Have air flow into the mouthpiece, but unable to have lips vibrate at high pitch.
4) others ...

At its most basic actions the lip (usually upper) has to be ABLE to vibrate (not locked immobile), and there has to be adequate internal air pressure to cause air flow through the lips and MAKE vibrations.

Jay
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Mgsmith88
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

#3. Air is flowing through lips and mouthpiece, no vibration
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mgsmith88 wrote:
#3. Air is flowing through lips and mouthpiece, no vibration


Clearly, your lips are capable of vibrating and there's no logical reason why that capability would be cut off when you get to Bb or C. So, no, I don't think it's an anatomy thing.

I think the explanation is really quite simple: Your lips simply aren't in the correct position to produce the notes you want to produce. Range is almost entirely a technique thing. So, the place to start is to learn and employ the technique consistent with producing high range and then adapt that technique to your individual physiology. The shortest path to this is to have a teacher who can explain it and show you and who can monitor your progress. However, that's easier said than done. It's difficult to find a teacher who can analyze and guide you with precision. I always recommend Clint "Pops" McLaughlin. He has a proven track record and you can work with him on Skype.
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JVL
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hello
i agree with Hermokiwi, it must be a placement issue.
Soft playing, aperture control, working on resonance, pitch centering etc will help, but you must be sure you're doing the exercises correctly. You must find your vibration point, focus, center, clean it, and work on coordination and strength around it.
Teachers like Pops, Bobby Shew will help you, better if face to face.
best
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JVL
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

maybe your mpc's ID and/or rim contour is problematic according to your teeth...
did you try a slightly smaller ID?
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Mgsmith88
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mouthpiece placement makes sense. It's a little to the right, again because of my teeth that's where I can get it to sit and still have support (not that I'm pushing hard against my teeth). I've been hesitant to go smaller mouthpiece only because of how many people tell me playing a bigger one is better for sound, but perhaps I should try smaller! Now where to start...
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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might want to consider giving Balanced Embouchure a try. I was in a similar position. I had a solid C and a sometimes Eb. It has been this way since the 1970s. I've studied with a Claude Gordon student who is a top flight pro for years. I studied with Don Jacoby for 3 years. Tone, technique, etc all improved, but still no more range.

I think it was last February when I started working on B.E. It is a VERY different way of approaching embouchure. So far for me the best thing is I can practice using this embouchure while I can still gig with my old embouchure.

I am far from mastering this technique, but practicing it daily has increased my range with the old embouchure up to a solid Eb, and a G every day but not when I get tired.
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JVL
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mgsmith88 wrote:
Mouthpiece placement makes sense. It's a little to the right, again because of my teeth that's where I can get it to sit and still have support (not that I'm pushing hard against my teeth). I've been hesitant to go smaller mouthpiece only because of how many people tell me playing a bigger one is better for sound, but perhaps I should try smaller! Now where to start...



mpc placement has to be according your vibration point (lips), and the best place, comfortable according to your denture. Off center is not necessarily an issue, if it's based on these 2 parameters.
Don't listen to those who say not to try smaller id because bigger is better. The id that'll fit you is personal.
I play on an ID that feels between 10 1/2 & 10 3/4, and even with my lead mpc have a large open full low register.
best
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JJMDestino
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bigger mouthpiece isn’t better for sound. I have heard people with beautiful big sounds on small gear. Also, it more than likely doesn’t matter that your mouthpiece is a little to the right. My teeth are crooked and one incisor is behind the other. I have no range issues, because I worked through them and learned the technique. My mouthpiece placement is also slightly to the right.
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Feel free to take this more as sympathy than advice, since it took me a while to get consistent and comfortable at or above high c. For what it's worth, here are some thoughts. Bob Findley's book and Flexus have been influential - you can read Findley's book pretty quickly and get the concepts, while working through Flexus has taken roughly a year for me to get comfortable.

I'm missing a small chunk of lower lip on the inside of my mouth from an accident where I bit my lip as a kid - before starting trumpet - and I currently warm up to a three octave range. Mendez and Herseth had accidents and came back (Irons too, I believe). I played in a regional high school big band where Joe Mosello visited, and he played Maynard's part on MacArthur Park - he owned it even though you could see his chops had some wear over the years. Probably some issues could impact range, but I've also seen so many players overcome issues.

1. You practice enough - if there is an answer, it will be in how you practice, not how much.
2. Playing is simple - ideally we just play what we intend to play - but the technique of range is complex, in that there are multiple things that must coordinate. Even if there is one tweak to be able to play high, playing high accurately and easily will require reducing effort in other areas, and it takes time to adjust. For instance, once an embouchure is more focused and efficient, you may realize you're overblowing - more efficient embouchure requires more efficient air.
3. Range is a nonlinear optimization problem, and physical effort doesn't scale exponentially. (high C is 4x the frequency of low C, but shouldn't require 4x the effort.) As far as I can tell this means finding a way to focus the aperture - Findley's book explains this better than I can.
4. From your comments on mouthpiece preferences, have you considered working to reduce how far your lip enters the cup of the mouthpiece? Where the rim bites too far into your lip, you get range and endurance issues. Again Findley explains this better than me - I'm not sure if the "balanced embouchure" approach is similar, but I suspect there are important differences.
5. Air support will also become more active in the low register with the approach Findley describes. This often feels like more work initally. There are advantages though - more consistency across registers will improve large intervals and other flexibility.
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, agree with the others on mouthpiece size. Go with what works, and the large cups played in major orchestras don't work for most people for all-around playing.
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Jaw04
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My opinion is that anybody can learn to play high notes. As long as you have all of your body parts and teeth.
It's about experimentation and finding where those notes are, not spending hours and hours doing exercises. You might need to forget a lot of muscle memory and completely retrain yourself in order to discover the upper register, but it's probably nothing wrong with your anatomy.
I used to wonder the same thing myself.. "is there something wrong with my lips?". Then I spent a lot of time experimenting, researching, trying things until I figured it out.

My advice is 1. don't worry about your horn or mouthpiece for now. 2. Look at each day is an opportunity to try something new. 3. Don't beat yourself up, physically or mentally. 4. Relax and 5. explore different things, different sensations, different concepts while you are playing.
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Jaw04
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more thing... have you ever picked up the trumpet and "magically" been able to play way higher than Bb or C? And then you play for a while and go back to your normal range?

If the answer is yes, you just have some bad habits/muscle memory that you need to untrain. You need to carefully observe what you did when the easy high notes come out.

If the answer is no, try picking up the trumpet cold and just really try to focus on not playing with force or how you normally play. You might surprise yourself with some easy high notes randomly. Eventually if you are observant you will be able to make them habitual.
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scarface
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:22 am    Post subject: Re: Could anatomy prevent high range development? Reply with quote

Mgsmith88 wrote:
Could it be that my anatomy could have an effect here? One of my lateral incisors is quite pushed back, and has given me plenty of trouble, to the point of looking into removing it and getting an implant. This is also why anything larger than about a 5 rim has just been fruitless for me even after months of attempting to adjust. I also was required to practice an unhealthy amount at the Navy School of Music after a failed test, and ended up with a permanent scar on my lip after 4 weeks of 8 hour practice days and always wondered if I did permanent damage. Am I just being a whiny b**** and need to spend some serious time developing high range, or is there any chance it could be out of my control, or at least an extra hard battle?

Go ahead... have at it trumpetherald hive mind


Sounds like you are somewhat stuck around bflat and c above the staff. I’m not there yet myself, but there is a harmonic break on the mp in that part of the range. Are you spending time up there daily on the mp to get above that that break?

How about leadpipe buzzing? That’s been a big help for me lately.
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RandyTX
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaw04 wrote:
One more thing... have you ever picked up the trumpet and "magically" been able to play way higher than Bb or C? And then you play for a while and go back to your normal range?

If the answer is yes, you just have some bad habits/muscle memory that you need to untrain. You need to carefully observe what you did when the easy high notes come out.


There's some gold here.
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kozzicomma
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaw04 wrote:
One more thing... have you ever picked up the trumpet and "magically" been able to play way higher than Bb or C? And then you play for a while and go back to your normal range?

If the answer is yes, you just have some bad habits/muscle memory that you need to untrain. You need to carefully observe what you did when the easy high notes come out.


This is EXACTLY the thing that pointed me in the right direction, although I'm still trying to figure out everything involved and i'm no where near consistently producing a full, resonant tone throughout my full register. However, this is how it went with me:

My plan was to experiment with spending a couple of weeks only playing at pianissimo no matter what i was practicing. One day i picked up my horn and did a glissando up to double C like it was nothing. That's when i felt the difference between the way i was playing before and the way i needed to play to produce that result. It felt like playing on a knife's edge versus the more meaty full face experience I felt before. Now i'm just trying to learn how to control that knife's edge!
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abontrumpet
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mgsmith88 wrote:
Mouthpiece placement makes sense.


Make sure you read HERMOKIWI correctly. He says "correct position" not "correct placement." Two drastically different words. Placement means wrong place and position means...wrong form. Imagine trying to play a G but blowing, hearing, and lip position are in the form of F#. It won't be good. So he's saying that the lips are just not in the right "frame of mind" to vibrate at the notes you're trying to play. I would take it one step further and add the other factors I mentioned...I think it's more than just the lip position but rather the confluence of air, tongue, lips, and imagined sound. If HERMOKIWI meant placement then I disagree with him.

If anybody is trying to figure out your issue and "cure" you over the internet, they are misguided. You NEED to get a private teacher as HERMOKIWI suggested. But I do agree with most of the sentiments put out by Jaw04 as those are healthy approaches that don't involve "fixing" but rather nudging the mind in a new direction.

Some things I question about your post: "My technique, air support, and tone all got pretty fantastic with all of that playing and practicing." If these were really 100% true, then I would argue you'd have that high C like you have concluded. So it leads me to believe that you are out of touch with what a balanced sound is. Which leads back to Jaw04's sentiments.

The only answer is private instruction from a professional. Even if they are a terrible teacher they can tell you if you're playing with a truly great sound.
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

abontrumpet wrote:
Mgsmith88 wrote:
Mouthpiece placement makes sense.


Make sure you read HERMOKIWI correctly. He says "correct position" not "correct placement." Two drastically different words. Placement means wrong place and position means...wrong form. Imagine trying to play a G but blowing, hearing, and lip position are in the form of F#. It won't be good. So he's saying that the lips are just not in the right "frame of mind" to vibrate at the notes you're trying to play. I would take it one step further and add the other factors I mentioned...I think it's more than just the lip position but rather the confluence of air, tongue, lips, and imagined sound. If HERMOKIWI meant placement then I disagree with him.

If anybody is trying to figure out your issue and "cure" you over the internet, they are misguided. You NEED to get a private teacher as HERMOKIWI suggested. But I do agree with most of the sentiments put out by Jaw04 as those are healthy approaches that don't involve "fixing" but rather nudging the mind in a new direction.

Some things I question about your post: "My technique, air support, and tone all got pretty fantastic with all of that playing and practicing." If these were really 100% true, then I would argue you'd have that high C like you have concluded. So it leads me to believe that you are out of touch with what a balanced sound is. Which leads back to Jaw04's sentiments.

The only answer is private instruction from a professional. Even if they are a terrible teacher they can tell you if you're playing with a truly great sound.


Yes, when I talk about "position" I'm speaking of embouchure, the relative position of the lips to each other, aperture control and all the other factors involved in producing a specific note. I'm not talking about the vertical or horizontal placement of the lips on the mouthpiece.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

abontrumpet wrote:
Mgsmith88 wrote:
Mouthpiece placement makes sense.


Make sure you read HERMOKIWI correctly. He says "correct position" not "correct placement." ...

-------------------
And HERMOKIWI appears to be talking about LIP position without regard to the mouthpiece, he wrote "Your lips simply aren't in the correct position to produce the notes you want to produce".

For the OP's trouble of being able to blow air thru the aperture, but not produce sound (lip vibrations), it's possible that even if the lips are in the 'correct position' that there is some physical reason that prevents vibrations.

The lip MUST be able to vibrate when air flow passes thru the aperture.
The air flow must be adequate to force the lip to vibrate.

Having the lip somehow 'locked' into an immobile position will prevent its ability to vibrate.
Not being able to produce the necessary air flow will prevent vibrations.

Jay
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