Can't Play A High "A"

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by georgie3035, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. georgie3035

    georgie3035 New Member

    Don't Know if any one can help but I'd appreciate any suggestions to the following.

    I haven't been playing that long just short of two years and been slowly working on lip flexibilities and range. I'm now up to playing an Ab for the last six weeks and even though working on breathing, sounding Eee, embouchure I just can't seem to find the next note (A). I have been taking it slowly and trying not to force it but getting a bit stressed now which I know isn't a good thing.

    I'd assume that the G, Ab, and A shouldn't be that far apart but at the moment they feel so far apart.

    I know its hard to answer without hearing and seeing me play but any tips or advice for me to try would greatly be appreciated.

  2. jonny1note

    jonny1note Member

    Obviously asking your teacher is the best way forward as it may be a matter of technique. However, it has to be said that even for experienced players top A (conventionally 1&2 valve) and top Bb (conventionally 1 valve) are notoriously difficult notes. More air (rather than lip pressure) to support the note often cures the problem. Many experienced players may use alternative fingering, 3rd valve for top A, or open (although a bit flat) for top Bb.
  3. Space Cowboy

    Space Cowboy Member

  4. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    As mentioned earlier theyre not the easiest notes to play. The instrument itself may also have a bearing - if you look theres another thread which talks about not being able to hit a clean top F. Try other instruments - it may be easier on those

    In terms of increasing range, its not about lip pressure, but being able to put more air into the instrument - try "pushing" with your tummy as you go higher, and the high notes will often be easier to reach (in technical terms, your diaphragm is pushing more air out of your lungs - putting more air into the instrument)
  5. georgie3035

    georgie3035 New Member

    Thanks all for replying,

    I don't have a teacher which probably doesn't help. Its good to know that even the experienced players find these notes tricky. I have tried using alternative fingering and get the same results. I normally practice daily with the Claude Gordon books so I do the rest as much as you play and do practice the air support. Saying this though I do find that if I miss a couple of days practice then when I go back to it I find I can hit it just about for a short amount of time. I also sometimes get a bit soar in the stomach area where I am pushing the air out to play the A

    Just watched the you tube clip and its made it clearer in my head what I need to achieve so really appreciate it. When I practice later i'll be thinking about that clip.

    Its definitely me and not the instrument as I wouldn't be able to play the note on the odd occasion.

    Thanks again all
  6. Hsop

    Hsop Member

    Hi Steve,

    The amount of air you put into the instrument should always be the same. This means if you play low or high, or loud or quiet the air flow stays the same. The speed of the air and your lip shape will change dependant on what you are playing.

    I find playing sustained notes helps range, try starting on a low c and then make the octave to middle c. Repeat with low d then to middle d and continue in this way until you can go no further. It's usually easier to play the higher note when you have just heard the lower octave equivalent. Sometimes I will use a solo cornet hymn book and play as much as I can up the octave.

    Also are you happy with your mouthpiece? A slightly shallower or narrower one would help your range but may affect your tone quality.

    Last thing I would avoid alternative fingering unless the instrument itself is prone to tuning flaws. Playing a high A on third valve will sound flat more often than not especially if it's a sustained note.

    All the best.

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