playing high notes

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Boomchickaboom, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. Arrggghhhh!!
    help me before i just send myself crazy!
    How do you play highnotes on a cornet!?

    I've been playing for nearly.. 10 years now and do practice still!!
    But, unless im really really warmed up i cant hit hhigh notes and then its only for about 10mins!
    IT's driving me mad!
    I know i don't have the best embochure (or however you spell it) talk about a bad habbit, I press my top lip on the mouthpiece -but i've tried to swap it and it either just slips back to how it was or i can't play at all.

    It's driving me mad! i know to practice long low notes but what else can i do,... apart from go play horn :)

  2. Soppy

    Soppy Member

    If you press really hard, you'll never play high notes for long. I press hard too, and so I know how difficult it is to change from the habbit, although it hasn't stopped me too much.

    It's not just about the lips. You need to push with the diaphragm, and also use your tounge to speed the air up. Put the tip of your tounge down below your bottom teeth, and push the middle of it up towards the top of your mouth, so it's like a skateboard ramp. That'll help.

    Check your mpc too. If it's stupidly deep you'll have probs, but so will you if it's too big. If it's too small that won't help either, but it'll be more of a problem down low.

    And practice lip felxibility exercises. After a while they will increase your range and stamina. Do the exercises so that you have to go up to the top note you can get. Do that for a while (weeks rather than minuites), and then try to go one note higher. Keep building like that.

    But one thing won't help, and that's getting angry with it. You'l ljust push hard against your lips and nothing will come out. Stay relaxed (hard to do I know, but it helps a lot).

    Good luck

    edit: having read your post again, you maybe need to consider a warm up routine that does warm you up really well. You can't get high notes unless you're warmed up properly, or at least not good ones! But it then sounds as much a problem with stamina as anything else. When you say 10mins, I take it you mean a 10minuite period when you can play fine, and then you start struggling again? Well, the lip flexibilities will help that, but just pushing yourself every time you paly will also help. Allways try to wear yourself out, so that at the end of every practice, you lips are very tired. Your stamina will not improve if you stop after that 10mins. Keep stretching yourself becuase it will have a massive effect, bigger than you think.
  3. Syrup

    Syrup Member

    Get hold of the book 'Lip Flexibilities' by Charles Collins (its the red cover one that includes 3 volumes), its great for building range. It goes up to G above high C I think!
  4. eckyboy

    eckyboy Member

    I learned on John Ridgeons Book of lip Flexies although sadly I let it all lack into relaxed muscle-lol.
  5. lewis

    lewis Member

    I've done quite a bit of good big band playing and the best lead players I've ever heard warm up with the most ridiculously loud pedal notes.
    For practising high, don't use any pressure. It might sound awful for quite a long time but it will come. If you can play high sometimes, then you can play high you just need to approach it in the right manner.
  6. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    From reading your post, I think you have the same problem that I've been having for a long time as well. Last year september I finally decided to get some proper lessons from a good teacher, and we've been doing lip flexibility exercises and all these things. It's very hard in the beginning, because you have to "un-learn" a lot of things first, and it feels like you're actually playing worse then before. But after a while, I noticed that things were improving slowly, and I must say that now, both my tone and high register have already improved considerably I think. But I'm not yet were I'd like to be!

    Good luck!
  7. Don't us cornet players always just want to play that super high stuff............ part of our make up I suppose.......;)

    My advice is - buy "Embouchure Enhancement" by Roddy Lewis. (Google his web site) Worth every penny! My range has drastically improved since reading his books - I now manage an E above High C - a nice clear loud one as well! (and still improving daily)

    You may feel inclined to have lessons with him - but the book is a mine of vital info.

    To improve range - really you have to get the whole equation right........ it's usually not just a matter of adjustment in one specific area............and, you may be surprised to learn, it isn't as hard as you think/.
  8. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Do you have a good teacher?

    If so, have you aksed them about your embouchure?

    Online forums are a great resource, but like all resources, you need to know how to use them. Online nobody can see what you are doing with your lips, nobody can hear how you sound, nobody can see if you are breathing properly. How are we supposed to be giving the best advice?
    Any advice given here can only be guesswork.

    Sorry for sounding negative, but we can give the finest help possible, but without actually seeing what the problem is, how can we be sure that our advice is appropriate to your problem?

    The most neglected part of high range playing (in my experience) is playing in the low register, whilst keeping a full, open tone. As you ascend into the upper register, keep the feeling of openness.

    If you want further advice unseen, feel free to ask, but I would suggest that anything anybody says online is taken with a healthy dose of salt, we can't see what you are doing, there might be something major wrong, there might not - consult a real-life good teacher.

    If you are not sure about whether the teacher is good or not, go by personal recommendation.
  9. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    This subject has been covered several times..... here's a few helpful links from past threads...

    ...and to add my 2p... RELAX... Open up.... dont sqeeze... use ya stomach muscles (diaphrame) ... push the air through..... and hey presto.... (also, being nice and warmed up can help.... I played cornet in an hour and a half band rehearsal and then hit top C no probs)

    Good luck
  10. MANuco

    MANuco New Member

    have a listen to roddy on his website particulary the online duets will appreciate his magnificent tone!!

    also: Naomi...i bet you're AMAZING on cornet !
  11. Thanks for your fantastic advice..
    as for a good teacher.. errmm.. i haven't had a teacher for about 8 years.. so i've kinda taught myself... so obviously a fantastic teacher... :) hmm.. obviously not.

    I wouldn't know where to start looking for a teacher - i've asked a lot of people i know for advice... kinda got the same advice that you have given me - but not quite as detailed and i'll definatly try the Roddy Lewis book - he sounds a bit good!!! :)

    So, i'll keep u pasted and when you hear amazing super F's in a few years - it maybe me!! :)

    I hope!!!
    Thanks again!

    I'll but u all a pint - if i ever meet you! :)
  12. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    My teacher recommended me the ASA-method ("Atmung - St├╝tze - Ansatz" or "Breathing - Support - Embouchure") by Rolf Quinque.

    Does anybody have any experience with this?
  13. eanto

    eanto Member

    I think practice still makes 'reasonably' perfect. It's all realative anyway unless your audtioning to the Royal Acadamy or somit like that. Lip flex has worked for me and anyway, what's wrong with playing horn!!!!
  14. robcav

    robcav Member

    [It's not just about the lips. You need to push with the diaphragm, and also use your tounge to speed the air up.]

    Whilst I agree with a great deal that has been posted already - warming up, lip flexibility exercises, the importance of practising lower register notes with little pressure, arching the tongue, posture - I have to say that there are many firmly held misconceptions about the importance of the diaphragm which all too easily trip off the tongue (no pun intended) when instructors are urging players to support their sound particularly in the upper register.
    The diaphragm, as all of us who have ever had hiccups know, is an involuntary muscle and as such can't be controlled.
    There are 3 layers of abdominal muscles from the groin to the sternum (breastplate); there are 2 layers of muscles (inner and outer) in between the ribs; there are back muscles from the lumbar region upward to the shoulders; there is the diaphragm just below the lung sacs; and there are muscles coming down diagonally from behind the ear which connect to the top of the cage. When a person does a "forced exhalation", the entire family is activated as a "one-family" movement. They ALL simultaneously increase their tension levels in order to raise the internal compression level (PSI) in the lung chambers. This moves the air FASTER, which is one of the first necessary things that must occur when a player moves "upward" in the register. The area that the player needs to become aware of is NOT, in the diaphragm but in the centre of the abdominal muscles, approximately near the navel. By learning to control the variance of tension, either isometric for holding a compression level or by tightening and relaxing the degrees of tension based upon what you are playing, one discovers that it is really the abdominal support that controls the air. This ab support certainly influences the diaphragm but it is NOT the diaphragm alone that moves the air. It is the FAMILY of muscles, all guided by the abdominal centring.

    Having said all that, I had no range on cornet so I moved on to euphonium. Horses for courses!
  15. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Part of the character of the person makes them suit the instrument I alwasy find. Tell me a bass player who was ever that bothered about his top register? (Give or take the odd soloist) It's all how low you can pedal with us lot!

    Really, I suppose playing very high, is a lot like playing very low. If you tell yourself you can't do it, you'll be right. you're at the extreme end of your register either way, so it's important to be confident, and you're pushing the instrument beyond it's supposed limits so it's not always going to behave like it would elsewhere in it's range.

    We all know confidence is a big thing in ANYONE's playing, but it has to be built slowly. Find yourself a comfortable range, and just try and push it a little every time you play. Find the notes that are the top and bottom of your comfortable range, and try to go one higer or one lower two or three times a night. Soon the note you've been working on is the new top (Or bottom) of your comfortable range, and you can go for the next one.

    It's slow but it works. I can't fault the advice to get some tips on technique though. A few pointers from a decent teacher can make an enormous difference to your playing.

    Stick at it! ;)
  16. Thanks Andi,

    Good luck in NZ by the way. i'll be cheering you on from the freezing cold - wish i could have been going too!!!

    The Roddy Lewis guy is really helpful. He's sent me a really long useful email and i've printed of a warm up exercise which is really helping..
    but then again it is my areas tomorrow so i've been doing a lot of rehersals as well!!
    So, who knows.. guess there's no definate answer to this one...
  17. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    Do you want the simple way to play high notes?

    OK firstly, the problem may be partly psycological. The "up there" feeling of high notes. Never call a top C a top C and you've won half the battle! They aren't high, just higher than the middle range. If you think they're high the automatic reaction is to tighten up and try to squeeze the most amount of air through a very small embouchure (sp?) whilst ramming your chops on the mouthpiece.

    Secondly, if you ever have problems, think of three things:

    - Air supply. Is it well-supported, are you using enough?
    - Tongue position. Is it high in the mouth to increase air-speed?
    - Vowel-sound. Are you thinking of an EE sound? This will keep the throat open.

    Honestly, after years of problems my upper-register has improved immensly by thinking of those three things. Good luck!

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