Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't get top A's.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Danger Mouse, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. Danger Mouse

    Danger Mouse New Member

    Milton Keynes
    Now I know that many of us struggler to get A above the stave, it seems to be one of those difficult notes. I have been playing for about 3 and a half years and are playing on a Yamaha Maestro. I have good range up to and including a G but can only produce a squeak of an A.

    Does anyone have any useful tips or exercises to practice. Or has anyone had the problem and would like to share their experience.

    Any coments would be most appreciated.
  2. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Fife, Scotland
    push harder!!!!

    I'm sure those more qualified will tell u what u'll need to do, but I bet u ur just not trying hard enough.

    Close ur eyes, see the A, take a good breath, open up the airway system, ur throat, etc, give a nice good kick (not too much) from the diaghram.

    Just aim for it and don't shy away from it, in most cases this is all it is, IMHO.

    High notes are produced by fast air! Eddie Severn told me that on a workshop about 4 years ago!

    However, I'm sure someone will be able to tell u what to do a bit better.
  3. Keppler

    Keppler Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like you've psyched yourself out.
    Most consistent way I've found of stretching your register is not to work on the top of it, but on the upper-middle. Play lots of long notes just below your top register, and eventually you'll stretch your middle register up.
    For problems with the A, work extensively with the E's and F's. Loud, soft, long etc. Work with scales, to get the pitch of the A in your head.

    Concentrate on "pushing" the air out beyond the end of the instrument. Imagine a big fat flow of air extending 3 feet past the bell of the instument, as if you have an extra tube on the top of your bell and you're tryng to fill the entire volume of it. Sound is all about width and speed of air.

    Try not to jam the mouthpiece into your face. That over-compresses the muscles, and pinches the airflow, when you want to do the exact opposite.

    Lastly, don't give up. You can help as much by developing the bottom end of your register (width and power again) Don't get frustrated - it will come if you work at it.

    Best of luck with it!
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Hadleigh, Essex
    You mention problems with the "A" but don't say anything about the other higher notes. I can't speak for smaller instruments, but I know that I have often found the "A" a bogey note on either euph or bass. Have you tried working on the higher notes, ie Bb, B or C, and then coming down?

    If it is a psychological block in thinking that "A" is high, you may find things easier if you concentrate for a while on notes that tend to speak more easily, and may be easier to get spot on in tune.
  5. amgray

    amgray Member

    That is how to completely knack the embouchure!! Sorry James but the answer is to work smarter not harder.

    Concentrate on the breathing, if you are not supporting properly you will apply too much pressure at the mouthpiece end = damage.

    Make sure you are breathing from the diaphragm, relax (always!!), play a scale at a comfortable dynamic from C up to G and try for Ab by not efforting it - let it fall out of the instument. take it slowly, don't be afraid of it (Keppler probably hit the nail on the head re psyching yourself out). When the Ab is comfortable(ish) play an A, then a Bb etc...

    On trombone I always found that practice (while breathing properly) in the bottom and pedal register helped the top register.

    The secret is always breathing properly and not "efforting", if it's hard work you are doing it wrong!!

    By the way - did I mention breathing properly?? :lol:
  6. floral_dance

    floral_dance Member

    Have to agree with Andy breathing is the key, try for a faster airflow and thenote should pop out, also try to hear the note in your head first before you play it as this will also help.
  7. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    New Southgate, London
    I have heard that A's above the stave (it's not top A, there is another one an octave above!!) on Maestro's are "dodgy" notes... As all brass instruments (except trombones and natural trumpets/horns) are a combination of 7 diffenent lengths of tubing, there will be some notes in the range that will suffer from intonation problems or just don't speak too well.

    There are various methods around for help on increasing range.. I would recommend getting a copy of either How Brass Players Do it by John Ridgeon, or The Allen Vizzutti trumpet method book one. Both these books deal with (in slightly different ways) for developing the upper register. As with most things brass instrument related, it boils down to Air stream and Air support, and lots of practice.
  8. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    I remember the same thing... no problem with a G but it took me ages to master an A. It definately helps if you can get over the psychological block. I remember an A above the stave being called a 'high A' argh.... you need to get yourself into a mind-set where it is just another note.

    The exercises I was told to try (i'm not great player now mind but they helped me) was

    1. Scales thus helping you to get the pitch right in your head
    2. Long notes going up the scale...
    3. Concentrating on strengthening up the lower register developing the support you need for the higher register.
  9. Rambo Chick

    Rambo Chick Member

    Auckland, New Zealand
    don't worry, no one can get them. they are elusive little beasties! :wink:
  10. Danger Mouse

    Danger Mouse New Member

    Milton Keynes
    I can't get anything much above A either. A flats are ok but not wonderful so I guess i'm best to work on them first. It's just so frustrating. I play in a first section band on 3rd cornet and rarely have a problem with range, but on another night I play second man down with the training band and range is the biggest thing that is letting me down.

    I hit this wall about a year and a half ago so to a point it is psychological.
  11. The Cornet King

    The Cornet King Active Member

    Hey dude.

    I had the same problem not so long ago...could play the best top G's but anything above was a dead loss. It will be a psychological problem. If you say you can't do something you wont, and more often than not when you do go for the notes, you go for them half heartedly which lessens the chances even more of playing the note.
    It WILL come! Just dont get frustrated, keep practicing, and really go for the top notes. If you split them so what! Once you play the notes once, then twice, get the sound of the notes, you'll build up confidence and find them no problem.

    Good luck! :D
  12. amgray

    amgray Member

    In that case I would recommend having some lessons. If you are having lessons and your present teacher can't help, maybe try someone else for a couple of lessons?
  13. NeilW

    NeilW Member

    Bucks/Oxon borders, UK
    Try playing it on 2nd - or even 3rd instead of 1+2.

    On some instruments, as has been pointed out, its a bogey note and isn't in tune. If you've got a "good ear" you may be instinctively correcting it to such an extent that it doesn't sound properly.

    I know that if I'm "out of tune" with the band, then I struggle to get the top notes - and end up very tired very quickly.

  14. cornetblower

    cornetblower Member

    I play a maestro too, and find it much easier to play A on 3rd valve.

    Good luck
  15. twigglet

    twigglet Member

    I am a fellow 'A' hater...give me a Bb no probs but A's are a nightmare to come in on. 3rd valve is definately much, much easier, you just have to listen more.

    A tip that an old teacher gave me was to play scales and not think about the notes you are playing just think about pushing air positively and pressing the right valves. This way you are not worried about the notes and it is so much easier to play. Then try and extend your range as high as possible so that the previously evil 'a' will seem easy! ...... all good in theory! Hope it helps
  16. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    South London
    i had a similar problem for a while... the silly top B in londonderry air... after a while i looked in the mirror while playing and realised i looked ever so slightly constipated... so I suggest calming happy thoughts and keep you shoulders down... just think "yeah, A, no worries..."
  17. alks

    alks Member

    Sorry to say but (as someone has mentioned) top A's on Maestros are difficult to place compared to other makes of cornet. You need to be 'in practice' -it is easier to play top b's c's or higher than an top A.
    You need to be 'in practice' to place the note correctly- everyone i've ever spoke to also say the A is hard-but it will come with practice :lol: .
  18. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    Perhaps your teacher could suggest some lip flexibility exercises which might help you extend your range. :)
  19. super_sop

    super_sop Supporting Member

    A world of my own!
    have always found it easier to play an A on 3rd valve, wether it be on my maestro, or any otther make.
    ive also heard its a bit of a bogey note on the maestro.
  20. skweeky

    skweeky Member

    Blackpool, Lancashire
    if you havn't already got one you should get a black practise mute (about 16 quid). First of all, after you finish a rehearsal go up chromatically until you reach the highest note you can play at the end of a band rehearsal. Sencond, put a black practise mute in (at home with a fresh lip) play that note that you reached at the previous rehearsal and hold it double forte for 5 seconds and then up a semitone for 5 seconds, back to the route note for 5 and down a semitone for 5 then start again (all in one breath each phrase as loud as you can until you have to stop then you wait a minute) do this everytime you practise starting on the note which you reached at you previous rehearsal, your range will be inproved drastically within a few times of doing this.
    Also, generally practising as loud as you can with a practise mut in anyway will improve projection and sound quality 100%!!!
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