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E_Smith
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:18 pm    Post subject: "Get good" Reply with quote

Hello all. This is my second thread post on Trumpet Herald (Warning: Long post ahead). I decided to put out this post after reading the thread, "Don't quit" written by Lionel. Frankly, I've been nervous to make another post of any kind; the first post resulted in me being roasted.

If you saw my last post, I was talking about getting a certain mouthpiece (looking back, it was a poor choice). The main goal was to improve high range. As a high-school player, you face the fear of peer judgment and embarrassment if your range isn't up to snuff.

After making my post, I regretted it. As I said, I got roasted. The first reply was from fellow member HERMOKIWI who, in a nutshell, told me to get good.

Okay, so he didn't say anything along the lines of, "get good," but his point was that a mouthpiece wouldn't be the answer. Any new gear wouldn't have been the answer. The answer was practice.

That's what I started doing, practicing. That post was made back in October, a little over 3 months ago. Let me tell ya, things can happen in three months.

The first thing I did was try a Bach 1C for three weeks. Dumb idea. After realizing that I had made a bad choice, I jumped back on my 7C and spent a month trying to get back to the level of playing I had before the switch. Then I kept practicing.

Jazz/Pep band season rolled around and I kept up the extra practice. I slowly noticed that my range was returning and going higher. The A right above the staff is easier, high C's and D's aren't out of the question on a good day. Now I just need a good exercise to improve endurance.... (anybody got one?)

My point is that I have improved because I put in the effort. And because of that extra practice, I love trumpeting now more than I ever have. The joy I get out of it is close to the joy I find in the piano. And the more I enjoy it, the more I play. And the more I play, the better I get. And trust me, there's a lot. A LOT that I have yet to improve on. (Up next: double tonguing).

So, like Lionel said, "Don't quit." By putting in the extra time, I've received a payoff. Thanks for reading.

PS: Congratulations on making it this far. You must not be very easily bored, or this post is more gripping than I thought.
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wohlrab
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One idiom sticks with me from my high school English class: "It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools." In fairness I do believe in using the right tool for a job but I also find that anytime I'm neglecting serious practice I get more and more interested in equipment. Are the two related? Yes.
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cgaiii
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a wonderful discovery, and a great deal less expensive than searching around for equipment.
Best wishes on your continued dedication to practice.
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I certainly did not mean to "roast"you. I want you, and everyone, to be the best they can be. I always try to give advice based on my 60 years of playing trumpet. It may not always be the advice a player wants to hear but it is always given with good intentions.

My father had an expression: "The ignorant person learns from their mistakes. The intelligent person learns from the mistakes of others. The fool learns from neither."

My ability as a player is not the result of some amazing natural talent. It's the result of working diligently to build my skills. A big part of that effort has been learning from my own mistakes.

Over 60 years I've heard all the "theories." One of the most prevalent "theories" is that high range is all about the mouthpiece. Another prevalent "theory" is that high range is all about muscle strength. I spent a long time buying into those theories, looking for a "magic" mouthpiece and beating my embouchure to coax out as much strength as I could. It was a long time before I learned that there is no "magic" mouthpiece and high range has almost entirely to do with technique instead of strength.

I want people to learn from my mistakes, misunderstandings and faulty thinking. It doesn't compromise me in the least if you're a great player and I want you to be a great player, I want you to derive as much pleasure from playing trumpet as I have.

What you're experiencing now, based on your descriptions, are gains from increasing strength/endurance. That's all well and good but you need to understand that there's a limit to what strength and endurance alone can provide in terms of increasing your range.

Most players who rely strictly on strength and endurance typically don't get above a useable high F (4th space above the staff) and most struggle even with that (high E - 3rd ledger line above the staff is usually the limit).

So, if you want an easy useable high range you have to learn and employ the technique consistent with producing an easy useable high range. The best way is to learn from a teacher who can tell you, show you, prescribe exercises and monitor your progress. Relying on strength and endurance alone won't get you there.

So, my advice is to keep building your strength and endurance intelligently but don't fool yourself into thinking that you won't have a limit around E or, if you're lucky, F if you rely totally on strength and endurance. Seek out a teacher who can teach you the technique necessary to produce an easy useable high range. That's the only way you're going to get there.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HERMOKIWI wrote:
... there is no "magic" mouthpiece and high range has almost entirely to do with technique instead of strength.
...
So, if you want an easy useable high range you have to learn and employ the technique consistent with producing an easy useable high range. The best way is to learn from a teacher who can tell you, show you, prescribe exercises and monitor your progress. Relying on strength and endurance alone won't get you there.
...

-----------------------------------------------------
Yes, 'technique' is the answer. But learning it can be difficult. And explaining or describing it is also very difficult - mainly because a lot hinges on 'how it feels internally'.

The key item is that the lip must be ABLE to vibrate at the necessary pitch. Excessive mouthpiece pressure will smash the lip so it can't vibrate, injure the lip, or be so tight that no air flow is possible. It is primarily upper lip mouthpiece pressure that is the problem.

Here is something you can try - and let us know your results.
If you been told (and tried) to 'use less mouthpiece pressure', it likely didn't work very well. The 'missing instruction' was - use a little more pressure on the bottom lip by pressing it (jaw/teeth/lower lip) harder against the rim, and at the same time slightly reduce the rim pressure from the upper lip. The tension in the upper lip to produce the fast vibrations for high notes must come the embouchure muscles making the lip more firm (don't stretch the lip thin - it's not a rubber band, or violin string!).

Jay
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, thanks for letting us know about your experience! I believe you have discovered what many younger (as some not so young) players have not, that the equipment used is far less important than consistent practice.

Again, thanks for posting this!

Brad
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, mouthpiece pressure can be an issue but reducing mouthpiece pressure doesn't get you an easy useable high range without the proper technique. Avoiding excessive mouthpiece pressure is just one part of a much larger formula.

The proper technique involves lip to lip compression, the positional relationship of the lower lip to the upper lip and the ability to hold the compression/positional relationship in place while you provide sufficient airflow.

And yes, it is difficult to teach because there is a certain feel to it that is hard to explain. So, it can be difficult to find a teacher who can really explain/teach it.

Most methods to develop high range focus on repetition, slow extension of range and chop building. Few focus on technique. The premise "just keep playing and it will all work out" isn't very effective for most players because they all get to a point at which strength and endurance simply does not increase range by itself.

A good resource for me was the publications by Pops McLaughlin explaining high range and how the chops work. Even with that it took a long time to develop and achieve consistency.

That being said, in one year we'll all be another year older whether we increase our skills or not. So, if a player wants to learn and develop the technique needed to develop an easy useable high range the sooner the player starts the sooner the skill will benefit the player. It's all a matter of choice.
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E_Smith
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I certainly did not mean to "roast"you.

Don't worry about it. It was a wake-up call that my mouthpiece search would not result in suddenly better playing. As you said, good playing starts on a foundation of fundamentals, not gear.
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Christian K. Peters
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:51 am    Post subject: Get Good Reply with quote

Hello all,
Welcome to the TH, E. I read the posts a couple of times, and you have some "Good" people giving a lot of great advice. On one post you also mentioned double tonguing... Which leads me down the path of getting a private teacher. I may have missed that tidbit, but I did not see mention of one. Your writing makes me believe that you are in the right space to really gain much by a trumpet teacher. Getting into the Clarke and Colin book would be to your advantage. There are other methods that others would recommend, as being viable, and a teacher could get you there. You want range and endurance. Flexibility, multiple tonguing and finger dexterity will get you there. Certainly a trumpet that works properly and a mouthpiece that fits your face will help. Speaking of mouthpieces, we have all been on that safari and have a drawer/rack full, to prove it.
Oh, "Good" people...I meant "Great" people... Just notice the number of posts and how long they have been on the TH...
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:26 pm    Post subject: Re: "Get good" Reply with quote

E_Smith wrote:
As a high-school player, you face the fear of peer judgment and embarrassment if your range isn't up to snuff.

So what's "up to snuff"? Don't worry about what a bunch of teenagers think. The vast majority of high school players don't have amazing range. I'd be willing to wager not a single one of your peers could play the lead book of a solid pro stage band or even with a strong college band.

Some people have an advantage and/or find the knack of it sooner than others. Worry about *your* development. Trying to frantically force out high notes that are beyond you is a recipe for failure and likely is going to impede your progress.

Quote:
The first thing I did was try a Bach 1C for three weeks. Dumb idea. After realizing that I had made a bad choice, I jumped back on my 7C and spent a month trying to get back to the level of playing I had before the switch. Then I kept practicing.

As an observation, certainly if things are working well yes certain mouthpieces can make higher notes easier, impart a certain character to them more readily than other mouthpieces, but you should be able to knock the crap out of a high C with a Bach 1C. If you can't, you need to focus on the mechanics of what you're doing.

What exactly the mechanics *are* is the issue. There are a lot of things going on when you play that aren't always obvious and intuitive and they all need to work together to make it happen. It's 100% a matter of specific physical things happening the right way - i.e. the way that gets the results you want.

It's *not* a matter of simply developing massive amounts of muscular strength, it's more a matter of finding the right way of doing it. If you're not getting the results you want, you haven't found that right way yet. I'm telling you this as someone who is quite familiar with the depths of chops dysfunctionality and got-no-range blues. The difference of the experience between when a G over high C was some unattainable pipe dream and being able to hit it with no problem is a whole different reality. My process of improving was not the result of endless hours of range-building exercises.

You're trying to make a small amount of flesh that's trapped inside the rim of the mouthpiece do your bidding. Various factors related to air, the nuances of the surrounding muscles and how to use them, opening of the teeth, how much of the upper and lower lip overhang the teeth,what's going on with your tongue and throat, the angle of the mouthpiece related to the teeth, amount and distribution of pressure. How you put the mouthpiece on the lips can make a difference.

Quote:
Now I just need a good exercise to improve endurance.... (anybody got one?)

You need to improve *all* aspects of your playing. Sound, range, endurance, sound, articulations, flexibility, sound, intonation, musicality, sound. Can you play all the major scales? Can you play a circle of 5ths/circle of 4ths? If you can't (and if you don't have a clue what a circle of 5ths is) you need to get to work on it yesterday. And also focus on your sound.

Did I mention sound?

The problem with a typical school band situation is that your personal development isn't a priority to the band director. He *should* be encouraging everyone in the program to seek out private lessons, does he?

Are you taking private lessons? If not, why not? Ideally private lessons with someone who knows more than how to assign exercises.

How comfortable does the mouthpiece feel to you? Does it feel like fits on your lips, like it goes into a slot or does it feel sort alien and uncomfortable?

Take lessons!
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By way of agreeing with Hermokiwi, albeit rephrasing a bit:

Don't worry about trying to figure out how to do difficult stuff on trumpet. (this leads to the diminishing returns on muscular effort)

Do notice and then ingrain the easy way of doing EVERYTHING. This leads to the technique - and efficiency, and endurance and quality, and precision.

The music you want to play will influence your priorities on the trumpet, but as you advance you'll find everyone can do the difficult stuff. Not many people attend to making music throughout everything they play.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kgsmith1 wrote:
...
Do notice and then ingrain the easy way of doing EVERYTHING. This leads to the technique - and efficiency, and endurance and quality, and precision. ...

-----------------------------------
The difficulty with that approach is how to discover the EASIEST way that will work for long term improvement.

I imagine that just about everyone currently uses the 'easy way' that they know about and can do. That doesn't mean there isn't a better or easier way.

Jay
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="JayKosta"]
kgsmith1 wrote:


The difficulty with that approach is how to discover the EASIEST way that will work for long term improvement.

I imagine that just about everyone currently uses the 'easy way' that they know about and can do. That doesn't mean there isn't a better or easier way.

Jay


I agree, "how" is an important question here. Also I agree a lot of people have found the easiest way to play with their current approach - a radical change in how to approach the instrument is difficult in the short term, even if it's difficult in terms of committing to embrace change rather than difficult in terms of physical effort.

It's easier to say how not to play than how to play, sometimes. If an approach causes discomfort it's definitely not the radically easier way, but it does seem like different things work for different people.

I was going to try to write what works for me but I don't know how clear I can be. Bob Findley's book, Flexus, Stamp, Chicowicz, and others have been helpful. I guess there's a Caruso school theme here. For me, it's important to maintain a relaxed but stable and focused embouchure that works across my playable range; I want to leave my face in position as I change pitch and dynamic. I want to let my tongue do the work - more managing the air than interrupting the air.

OK, going to stop now because I can see I'm being vague and no one is asking me for a lesson or anything, here, and I know other people will have other opinions on how to play efficiently.[/list]
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I want to let my tongue do the work - more managing the air than interrupting the air.


The tongue is used to interrupt the air for articulation. There is nothing else that the tongue does to "manage" air, so do not fall for that myth.

Simply notice that the tongue moves forward related to aperture corner and specifically lip "roll-out" effort wen ascending. That is all.
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kalijah wrote:
Quote:
I want to let my tongue do the work - more managing the air than interrupting the air.


The tongue is used to interrupt the air for articulation. There is nothing else that the tongue does to "manage" air, so do not fall for that myth.

Simply notice that the tongue moves forward related to aperture corner and specifically lip "roll-out" effort wen ascending. That is all.


I've only been here a few months and I knew I'd have a different opinion on this than Kalijah. I'm happy to say maybe I'm totally wrong about how this actually works, and I'm only describing how it feels to me. But I still experience myself using tongue levels, and not rolling in or out.

Personally, and this is critical for my goal of playing with ease, when I've tried using the lips to roll in / out or otherwise get my face more active, it's not easy. My face gets tired. I'd rather own a high C consistently for a 3 hour gig than have a 50/50 chance at a practice room double C. Maybe I'm doing the roll in / roll out thing wrong, but again, just reporting my preferences and perceived experiences.
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kalijah wrote:
Quote:
I want to let my tongue do the work - more managing the air than interrupting the air.


... Simply notice that the tongue moves forward related to aperture corner and specifically lip "roll-out" effort wen ascending. That is all.


I think this is the first I've seen you mention tongue movement and I would agree some coordination could be helpful - any thoughts on how to achieve that?
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The roll-out "effort" does not necessarily acheive a roll-out result. To manipulate the lips to ascend players generally do both roll-in and out efforts concurrently. This both "firms" the lip aperture AND imobilizes some of the outer vertical vibrating area such that the vibrating area is smaller. This produces a relatively higher pitch.

But effective approach and fine control will allow the player to use LESS of these actions across the range not more. And yes, less tongue movement is then required in general as well.

There is NOTHING that the tongue position alone does to influence the pitch played. The pitch is controlled by the embouchure state.
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kgsmith1
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kalijah - thanks for the clear and helpful explanation. Level of effort to maintain the same embouchure at different volumes and pitches can change for me too although I try to keep the effort to the minimum. Also I agree exaggerating tongue movement is trouble - in my younger days I tried to learn lip trills before my embouchure was more focused and I got nowhere. Tongue movement messed with my intonation as I recall but no matter how much I moved my tongue I couldn't get a real trill back then.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kgsmith1 wrote:
... tongue movement and I would agree some coordination could be helpful - any thoughts on how to achieve that?

-------------------------------------------------
If conscious tongue movement assists in getting the embouchure into good position, then use that movement and pay attention to what the 'good' embouchure position feels like.
If you don't need conscious attention on tongue movement, then don't worry about it: just let it happen, and don't try to limit the tongue movement UNLESS the resulting tongue position interferes with air flow or embouchure control.

Some people find great success doing active tongue movement, but that is not required by everyone.

Jay
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The 'next note' is the most important one.
Don't take a '20 minute mouthpiece' to a 1 hour session.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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