high range!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by madandcrazytromboneguy, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. ok guys, time to get your tutor caps on your heads, coz this problem is buggin the hell outa me!

    im practicing like crazy at the minute for my recital pieces for my course, and theres some high range stuff in there which no matter what techniques and methods i try, it doesnt work, ive struggled with high range notes on and off ever since i started really and thats the weird thing, it has been on and off, sometimes its been a doddle for me, other times i can't even get above top G, at the moment my range is just about up to top Bb but above that i can't seem to pitch consistantly, and the highest note i have is a top E i think, so if anyone has any pointers on how to improve high range, i'd appreciate it.

    Last edited: Apr 3, 2006
  2. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    This is going to be of no use to you at all...but I am having exactly the same problem! Sometimes I get high notes fine, the next day top g's are sounding strained...its really annoying! I have my performing exam in just under 3 weeks and I'm starting to get a bit worried about my complete lack of consistancy :(
    All I can say is the advice thats been given to me (it never seems to work though!) which is to relax and to breathe and to push the air. Practising scales in the upper register very slowly and loudly is supposed to help (although I've always been too lazy :tongue: )
    The only tip I've been given that has been any use to me was by a teacher at my school who used to play for Wingates. I was playing a high note at the time and he said 'now just soar' and it worked! The next few notes, which were also high came out perfectly.
    Apart from that, good luck!
  3. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    One thing ive been advised to do in the past - and it works (somehow). Is to practice low notes, as loud as you possibly can - for about 10-15 minutes every day (more you get bored ;)) and this somehow helps you with high notes. And annoys the neighbours at the same time (thats just a bonus though)
    Hope that helps
  4. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Following on from a thread that was around last week, try and get yourself a copy of Charles Collins' book Advanced Lip Flexibilities - doesn't matter what instrument you play, it's equally valid for everything (except perhaps 2nd tambourine ;) ).

    In the meantime, another useful exercise is starting on, say, a bottom G then slup up to the next note in the harmonic series covering 2 octaves if you can (D, G, B, D, F, G) holding each note for a slow count of 2-4 then come back down again. Don't be tempted to cheat by slide or embouchure movement ;). then raise everything up a semitone (so G# / Ab) and do the same thing again. Continue until you hit bottom C to top C. Then start to come down again, so start on a bottom B but instead of stopping at top B go for the next harmonic (so C#) and repeat the cycle....keep adding the next harmonic until you're squeaking.

    It'll take time, though.

    Diaphragm support is rather more important than screwing the mouthpiece onto your face :D
  5. sooooper sop

    sooooper sop Member

    I agree with Tom-King, I find that if I do 5 - 10 mins on low notes, then warm up properly for about 15 mins before going into the stratosphere, always trying to use the absolute minimum of frontal pressure, then I just think of the note and always have a decent sized breath. As for exercises lip flexibilities played at a reasonable mf from top to bottom range making sure each note is even etc etc, helps increase stamina and range. Well it works for me!
  6. Matthew

    Matthew Active Member

    Lots of lip flexis and use as minimal pressure as possible to strengthen the embouchure as much as possible. Remember, there are many facial muscles to train and take into account; by not 'pushing' your mouthpiece to your lips with more pressure, as you go higher. After a good hour of private flexibility/scale practice, you should find you can feel the facial/embouchure muscles all over (especially side of the cheeks, etc) have had a good workout and may ache slightly.

    Takes many hours of practice to strengthen your embouchure with as little pressure as possible (and ideally with as little obvious embouchure movement as poss, as you cover the whole range of the instrument) and if you're new to this, your playing may suffer negatively to begin with. All players have different techniques and you must find what works best for you. Good luck. :)
  7. some good stuff here guys

    the whole pressure and relaxing situation is 1 i figured out for myself but its a different story trying to actually do those 2 things when playing.

    a friend of mine told me about the lower notes stuff aswell, personally i love playing loud low notes on a trombone, if i was a proper bass clef reader i may have even taken up bass trombone from the start. still havnt figured how it helps the higher range but i suppose it must do coz my friend has no problem with range, alright for some i suppose lol

    i dont seem to have as much problem getting higher notes on a valve instrument like a baritone for example, Bb bass is even better, i can hit soopa doopa C on there (an octave above super C if your wondering, what a shame it will never be a note written on a piece for the Bb bass, lol)

    anyway back to the point, my current tools are a getzen custom and a DW 5AL, i know the old sayin good workers dont blame the tools, but could it be the tools that might not suit me?, altho ive played with these tools for about 4 years now, maybe a touch longer.

    i know my technique is pants coz i can't relax my shoulders and can't avoid pressing on hard with the mouthpiece but i have played for over 12 years and ive been a regular dedicated bandsman although that time, i would have thought that i might have been at a better level of playing than i currently am.

    could it be that its coz ive not really had a long stint on a solo trombone seat in a band?, they are constantly playing higher than the 2nd seats where ever you go, and altho you can get some nice rangy stuff in the champ section on 2nd trom, ive only experienced that for a year of my playing, so would me getting a solo seat somewhere help me to improve my range and other technical areas of my playing?

    thanks for your input so far guys, keep it coming in. all points will be considered in detail by yours truely :)

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2006
  8. sooooper sop you find a can of stella good before high notes if i remember rightly but any way higgh notes what are they except pn BBb hard to get in tune on an instrument built for pedaling that composers now dont like
  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Good advice from Matthew in his post.

    However, remember that exercising your facial muscles is exactly the same as exercising your quads or biceps for example. Don't try and do too much initially, so don't try and do a full hour of flexibility exercises is one go the first time you do them as you run the risk of damage which could take a while to calm down.

    Conversely, it's of no real benefit to work within your comfort zone for this kind of thing either - you need to find your boundaries then learn to push them in a controlled manner.
  10. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    sounds like you're doing too much playing, to be honest. Try warming down at the end of practice, and have loads of rest, especially if you play with pressure. It may be that your lip muscles are overtired all the time.

    Also try shallower cup as a temporary measure, because that'll take the strain out of it. Just don't tell anyone and see if they notice any dip in sound quality.
  11. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Firstly - any advice given on any online forum is given by people who cannot see/hear what you are doing and so should be taken with this in consideration. It could be something you are doing, on the other hand it could be something you are not doing.
    Do you have a private teacher?
    If not - go and get one, have a few lessons with a good teacher and see what they say - once they have seen/heard what you can do and how you are doing it.

    A decent upper register is usually not something that one can acquire overnight, it requires a degree of patience and a large amount of effort.

    That said - the way I work on my upper register playing is be playing in my upper register. Scales ascending to the upper reaches of your range - on a daily basis. Hymn tunes played up an octave - if an octave is a problem, transpose the tune up a semitone each day, within a fortnight you are playing over an octave above where you started and you may not have noticed. Lip flexibility exercises (How Brass Players Do It, Clarke, Bai Lin - whichever book you have), with decent air support. Full sounding low notes (Herbert L. Clarke was a huge believer that lower note playing benefits the upper register). All the time taking your breathing into consideration.
    There may be some of this you are doing already, but without seeing/hearing you, it is very difficult to say.

    You say that your "technique is pants" - what are you doing to change this situation?
    My advice would be to take a few lessons - a good teacher can be worth their weight in gold.

    The internet can provide many suggestions, but which works for you is going to be largely guesswork - we cannot see what you are doing, we cannot hear how you are sounding - see a decent teacher and get some personal advice based on what your specific problems are.
  12. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    A good point, well made ;)
  13. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Remember there is a big difference between doing lots of playing (which it sounds as though you are doing) and actually practising. I agree with Mike - a good teacher, even for a few lessons, would be able to pinpoint your weaknesses and give you a practice regime which will concentrate on sorting these out. Plus if your technique really is "pants", you are unlikely to get a long term solo seat unless you sort it out!
  14. Matthew

    Matthew Active Member

    Keep practicing mate, stay off the beer and your range and tone will improve. ;)

    BBb Tuba players should be able to play at least Pedal C and below (e.g. Pedal G and lower) right up to at least a top E above top C and further, with a decent sound, control and nice tonal quality across the whole of the range. Seriously, look at some of the range now required for BBb Tuba in the top section/1st section compositions. :D

    Clive - as mentioned and it's a good point actually, it's hard, unless someone can see your playing, what's going on there exactly. But, obviously you're going to be able to get 'higher' notes on larger instruments as you've mentioned, this isn't any reliable indicator for you though and shouldn't be used as one. ;) I once knew an EEb Tuba player (amazing player, played for Grimethorpe who could clearly get a top C on his tuba or a cornet, he played with almost 'no pressure' on his mouthpiece).

    Have you got a current tutor? If not, I'd splash out a few quid, if you can, for some lessons and definitely go for a trombonist of note who also teaches if possible (I'd reccommend Chris Jeans if he were closer to you?!), etc. I'd get through your recital, etc, before changing your technique (if in fact, this is needed), then be prepared for what might be a slog, but the end result will be worth it. :D
  15. persins

    persins Member

    I think most of this has been covered by other posts but just to re-iterate, it seems like there is no quick fix to sort this out. It's just down to practice and understanding what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong and what you're not doing at all!
    I completely agree with what Trumpetmike has said. Some fantastic advise there!
  16. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I'd like to add my weight to this and maybe a couple of things to think about. Everybody needs a teacher - even if only for a short while - to make sure we don't slip into bad habits. A good teacher will pick up on the things we do and don't do and improve our technique.

    If you have left it so late to start making changes then you are a bit of an idiot. You already knew (it seems) that your technique is bad, so you leave it till a few weeks before to try and put right your failings:rolleyes: Doh!

    Things like this take a lot of time and effort. Again, get a teacher. I hope you haven't left it too late.

    You really need to do some personal practice - no, I do not mean rehearsals, I mean practice. Scales, arpeggios, lip exercises, range extenders, long notes, breathing exercises, playing techniques. All the basic stuff you have probably been ignoring as boring for most of your playing life.

    I hate to say this, Clive, but I've been playing for longer than you've been alive and I still begin by doing major and/or minor scales two or three octaves, long and short notes, up and down, going up and then down by semitones, long notes and alternative fingering exercises - as well as many others.

    As for being able to do it on a valved instrument - valve instruments have a different balance of tubing and give a different amount of back pressure to a trombone, which is mostly cylindrical. In some ways they are a bit easier to play high notes on. However, for someone who has been playing as long as you have, you should not be having these problems and would not be - barring some new medical condition - if you had been doing proper practice.
  17. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    I wouldn't be so harsh on yourself as Mike suggests there (perhaps it's my relative inexperience), but I'd say you are over-fatiguing your lip muscles and they need rest. Meanwhile you could practice positions on an 'air-trombone'. I bet they sell them on ebay!
  18. el maestro

    el maestro Member

    The things my teacher says to me are:

    Don't overblow and press on too hard - relax!

    Practise pedals, and try going down the Bb arpeggio (concert pitch) from low Bb to pedal Bb without using a trigger by getting the false notes in 1st and 5th. (i.e. Bb - F - D - Bb)

    Go up then down in octaves and fifths increasing the starting note by a semitone each time (i.e. F - Bb - F - Bb - F then F# - B - F# - B - F# etc.)

    Play a low F in sixth then gliss up slowly to the Bb. Then play the B in 7th and gliss up to the F. Then play the F in 6th to the Bb etc. getting higher and higher.

    Practise 2 octave scales from a low note to a high note e.g. scale of Bb (concert pitch - scale of C in treble clef)

    Also, my problem for a while was that I was letting some air into my bottom lip and puffing it out a bit. But when I stopped this, it was easy to play high, and it also improved my stamina a lot.

    Hope these help!
  19. cheers guys, again some good stuff.

    ive had some lessons on my course but with the course only being 7 weekends a year its not a lot.

    my practice has been very hit and miss over the years, and maybe a regular set of exercises would be useful, but ive been in bands where we've played music and the 2nd trombone part has been so boring and not technical that i may have gotten lazy with it on occasions, but i think this happens to a lot of players, not just myself.

    getting a tutor looks like the big option to take on, even if it is just until my recital in mid june, seems that it may be a lack of guidance from someone whos been there, done it, and got the shirts to prove it, could be why im not the player i could have been at this stage in my playing.

    just to say, im not an idiot, you dont know what ive gone through in the last 4 years, so without knowing these facts, please keep the insults out, they arent required.

    on a more positive note again, its been nice for me to just go to random rehearsals and jobs since i left hebden, theres been no pressure on me with how ive played and ive been able to sit back and enjoy playing in a band, i think this has been a good move for me, with my current workload from the course. does anyone agree that taking a break from FULL TIME banding can be whats needed to get stuff back on track? as mentioned before, i have done bits of banding here and there, i dont think i could ever quit banding fully, not yet anyway lol
  20. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    as long as its' not permanent, it may do you some good. Good luck with your endeavours. At least you want to improve - that's a good start

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