Expected Range of a Baritone Player

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jack E, Nov 23, 2018.

  1. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Well-Known Member

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    I was once asked incredulously why I was playing 3rd cornet. My response, because there isn't a 4th cornet part :)
     
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  2. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    upload_2018-11-27_18-44-20.png

    You slay me, 4th!!

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
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  3. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

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    Jack I'm glad my suggestion seems to be providing some help - with regards to the baritone being the sound for you, thats great - its a lovely instrument, VERY under-rated and with the ability to blend with cornets, trombones and tenor horns.
     
  4. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

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    Jack - you could try some LIGHT work on compression drills... don't overdo it, but incorporate a little into your practice.

    By "compression drills" I'm talking about deliberately practicing with relatively little air on-board - take a comfortable breath in, breathe OUT and then play with a very small breath (for me, just a sniff through the nose works well) - simple scales or arpeggios up to the top of your useful register (and back down and back up, as you become able to), do this at a comfortable (not loud) volume.... rest until comfortable, and repeat.

    The idea is not to learn how to play with little air, it's that because you don't have much air on board you HAVE to support/compress it in order to get it to work - as you become better at doing so, your capabilities with a decent breath (not an OTT one) can show very noticeable results. (But don't neglect other areas of practice - it's something to add in a little at a time along with the other things you do).
     
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  5. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    Yes - I can really see the point of that exercise; not least because it will show me just how well (or not) I'm using my diaphragm to support the air - which is so critical when playing pianissimo.

    Many thanks, Tom!

    Jack
     
  6. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

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    More that it will FORCE you to support the air than that it'll show you if you're not - by forcing you to do it, you'll work the muscles involved and strengthen them (but like any muscle work, it shouldn't be overdone).
     
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  7. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    @4th Cornet - an update on working with the James Morrison tutorials.

    As I'd been having problems with the high notes, the first one I looked at was the third one (on Range); tried following what he said, but couldn't seem to get the hang of it. But this evening, I thought about the fact that James uploaded the tutorials in a specific order - so maybe I should start at Part 1, and work through. I watched Part 1 (Breathing), tried doing just as he said, and could really feel how effective it was.

    Then I watched the second one, on the importance of not just hearing the correct pitch before trying to play a note, but hearing the full sound, with me playing my baritone, in the room that I'm in, right here and now (which all sounds a bit metaphysical, but what the hell?), and spent a good 15 minutes going over it in my mind.

    Went off into my practise room, breathed how James suggested, then played the chromatic scale from bottom F# upwards. Got to C on 3rd space - no problem; C# - still good; D - really clear and stable (??); D# - STILL good (are you kidding?); E - just as good (WHAT??); . . . could I get the F? . . . maybe I could . . . try it and see . . . HEAR that note in my head, JUST as I want it to come out of my baritone, with me playing it, in this room, right now . . .

    F!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ta-DAA!

    And not just any old F, but a really clear, melodic F. I just sat there, STUNNED! Not only by how good it sounded, but how little effort it took! Half an hour later, and I am still trying to take in what actually happened . . .

    I feel a bit like I did - only MUCH more so - when a very gifted instructor finally got across to me how to properly sit to a horse when cantering; how effortless it was, once I got my over-thinking out of the way of my body, and how easy it was, once I stopped 'trying too hard in the wrong way'.

    I'm still in a state of shock.

    Jack
     
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  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    UPDATE
    I've been pegging away at it - but working very much along the lines of "don't work hard - work smart"; and it appears to be paying off. So instead of just sitting down and plunging straight in, I've been working out first what my goals are, not long term or even medium term, but in the next hour.

    One of my warm up exercises (given to me by my MD) is playing harmonic progressions on the same fingering; and the sheet shows starting on open, from low C, to G, to C on 3rd space, and back to G - and then doing the same on 2nd valve, 1st valve, 1st and 2nd, 2nd and 3rd, and 1st and 3rd. But tonight I tried a variation, acting on advice I've been given that it's best to warm up on lower notes and then work up.

    I started playing the notes as shown in the above paragraph; then I went the other way, starting from the bottom:-

    upload_2018-12-5_20-33-22.png

    . . . and, much to my astonishment, I got all the way up to the top G! :eek:

    Jack E.
     
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  9. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the update and the good news.

    I’ve found it easier to get the heigh notes before I’ve warmed up rather than after, but it’s a daft thing to do ‘cause you risk damaging something and it misleads you about what you can do later. My own MD suggested that warming up on the lower notes is the way to go, for me that’s a few basic C scales of one octave starting on low C followed by low G to middle G.

    I think that the advice your MD gave you is good and is commonly used by players, best to start your warm up with it. As a follow on your later variation is good and I think that it tricks your mind and chops into playing those higher notes. We add tubing to make the notes lower so gradually taking tubing away gradually makes them higher whilst the chops aren’t that much changed, so moving pitch within a harmonic. Then throwing in the movements between the harmonics that you can do confuses things nicely, and so you’re suddenly able to achieve your goal ‘cause the opposition is in a state of confusion.

    At some point you’ll get real flashy and realise that G above the stave is available on 1 plus 3 and so a route to top C - I found that it got a bit tricky though, there’s theory and there’s what actually happens in practice. As an aside I have a selection of mouthpieces, the bigger ones initially refused to give me the higher notes. This might not be a good way of doing things but I used some smaller ones to help build upper range and then found that gradually increasing mouthpiece size enabled me to retain upper range whilst improving tone. YYMV.

    Videos are often suggested here on tmp, trouble is they tend to be for the more expert player and that doesn’t help me that much. I like the James Morrison one though and mean to watch the whole series. In more general terms I’ve chanced across a few aimed at a lower and intermediate levels and they do help; one that I saw recently got me thinking about how I sit and how I hold my instrument (or rather bring my mouthpiece up to my now higher face) and small changes in those have helped me breath better. River City Brass do an interesting series, not really about range but things like breathing and how your chops work best are all good background knowledge from possibly the number one band in the US.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
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  10. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    I think that 'getting your over-active mind out of the way' is a big part of it - certainly is for me, and I suspect for many others. A friend who is learning to ride told me she has exactly the same problem; thinking too much, rather than taking the old hippie line of 'going with the flow'.
    Um - I think I'll focus on getting as far as a reliable G on open, first, before shooting for the dizzy heights! At the moment, it feels like I have to really get in the zone to get there - a bit like when I was learning to ride my old BSA C.15, and spent weeks and weeks riding round the block, practising getting the clutch take-up nice and smooth, every time - rather than just 'mostly'.
    Nor me! I remember talking to a pilot I met in the RAF, and he told me that when he started his flying training, his instructor told him, very forcefully, that most people could learn to loop the loop quite quickly - but what was far more important, and much harder to do really well, was flying straight and level! I've noticed it the same with riding; the number of people who spend hours working on the fancy dressage moves, but don't know how to get a horse moving in a fluid and long-striding walk. No foundation = nothing solid to build on.
    Yes! One of my role models in our band is one of the cornet players, whose posture is spot on - the sort of poise which yoga instructors aim for - and you can hear how well it works for her, just by listening to the sound she makes. Re. the videos you've found helpful; I'd very much appreciate it if you could pass on the links.
    Thank you for that tip - I'll follow it up today.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
  11. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

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    I'm just going to throw something out there...
    I never start with the lowest notes first thing (picking it up cold from the case OR through slurring exercises) - not because there's necessarily anything wrong with it, but because I prefer to work outwards from a comfortable mid range (so I'll usually start around top space E or the C in the staff).

    So taking your written slurs a few posts above... Where your 1+3 starts on the low G and goes to the top and back, I would personally start from the middle G (2nd line) and to down to D, up to G, up to B, down to G, down to D, down to G, up to D,G,B,D and then back down to the bottom G to finish.
     
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  12. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

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    You can also get that G on 1+2.
    If you use 1+3 you're getting it by lowing the C, if you use 1+2 you're getting it from the Bb. The Bb being a flat harmonic can make it easier to get and more tuneful, especially if you're struggling to get up there in the first place (the odds are you'll be going sharp if you're still developing that range, so using a flat harmonic can counteract that a bit).

    The biggest problem with video's is often that when you THINK you're doing as advised, what you're ACTUALLY doing is nothing of the sort.... and this is why no amount of video's are a substitute for a good hands-on lesson - the teacher gives advice just the same, but importantly they're able to observe and listen to what you do in response to that (in short, they make sure you're actually doing what's advised).

    There are some good videos nonetheless, some indeed aimed at more advanced players, but there's also plenty of absolute rubbish being peddled by people who have no business making tutorial videos in the first place (and sadly, these seem to be primarily at "lower and intermediate levels" of playing, to borrow your words)
     
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  13. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

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    Two good posts Tom, very helpful I think.

    With regard to #31. I’m hoping that Jack will pick that up and display it pictorially (so that what you have said can be checked for understanding and understood at a glance). Having a start point in a comfortable range seems good to me, but one person’s comfortable range might not be another’s or even typical of notes that their part calls for ......

    With regard to #32. Yes, the high G is available on 1+2 and I do use that combination at times ‘cause I think that it’s more in tune than open (likewise the E below it). When I had a lesson a decade or so back - sadly that wonderful teacher passed away before retirement and I wish I’d had more of his time - it came as a great surprise to me to be told that my top C was a note lower. The alternative harmonics available were barely if at all know to me. My reason for suggesting 1+3 for the top G was to signpost a (similar logic) route to top C, but it’s all academic anyway.

    The mix of videos on-line is broad, some aren’t that good and some are easier to utilise than others. I take the view that if it works for me in some way then that’s fine and if not then it’s either rubbish or I’m not yet ready for what it’s trying to tell me - well that or the presentation isn’t one that works for me. There’s always a risk of misunderstanding too but so far that hasn’t been an issue for me, if it works then I’ve made a small step forward and I don’t rely on single sources of information but rather seek multiple examples of recognisably good practice. I accept that some stuff might be misleading, but that’s a risk to take (and then manage) and a judgement call. The alternative is to only take private lessons but in my experience finding good teachers is hard to do and the risk of taking lessons from a poor teacher is large. Either way you’ll shell out a load of money and sometimes that expense is hard to sustain and/or justify ....... sometimes there are no answers that are perfect so we do what we can and hope. YMMV and very likely does but we still all stay friends, I hope.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  14. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    @Tom-King - many thanks for your detailed replies; I'm a bit busy today with practising, getting some urgent parcels sent off, and having a turn tonight in my signalbox on the East Lancs Railway (evening diner train!), but I will take the suggestion from @2nd tenor, about putting the suggestion in #31 into pictorial form using my music scoring software (and post the result on here in case anyone else finds it helpful).

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
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  15. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    @Tom-King; Is this right, Tom?

    upload_2018-12-9_12-9-0.png
    With best regards,

    Jack
     
  16. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jack,

    Almost - go up from the B to the D in your last bar (as before, same top note) then go back down (B, G, D, G)
     
  17. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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  18. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

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    That's it @Jack E

    Then work up the fingerings using the same pattern
     
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  19. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

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    Just placing the text next to the music. Next up would start with Ab on 2+3, on so on I believe.
     
  20. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

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    Yep.

    If you wanted to keep going after you reach open (starting on the C) you can use the same pattern again starting on Bb (1+2+3).
     
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