Urgent Advice on how to improve range and clarity on highnotes

HeyItsMakaroni

New Member
Hello I'm new to this site and came here because i am in deseprate need of a quick way to improve not only my range but the clarity of my high notes. I play the euphonium and im in a highschool marching band. I'm looking to audition for our Jazz band but the audition piece contains a high E that I am unable to hit. I dont have long and ANY advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Quick ways? Uhoh...

Honestly, proper range development takes time.

Putting pressure on yourself leads to tension (and often excessive mouthpiece pressures) and this basically precludes it from happening.

To develop it properly you need to find the technique and then develop the comfort with that range and technique to just do it without panicking about it.

Clarity can sometimes come from shallower mouthpieces (at the expense of quiet response, warmth of tone and margins of error) but in order to benefit from this you need that range properly developed to begin with.


Is there an alternative note to that E?
Could the phrase just be dropped an octave instead?

Being a good musician and knowing your limits is a positive thing - you'll produce better music (ask yourself: "if I were listening...") and that's always the key to making a good impression.

If others go for the audition and nail it then so be it, they'd probably get the job whether you hit that note or not...
If others go for it and miss (and so do you) then its all about the rest.
If others go for it and splat that E and you play it safe, who'll look best?

It's easy to focus our attention on the little bit we can't play and neglect to polish up the rest - don't.
 

HeyItsMakaroni

New Member
Quick ways? Uhoh...

Honestly, proper range development takes time.

Putting pressure on yourself leads to tension (and often excessive mouthpiece pressures) and this basically precludes it from happening.

To develop it properly you need to find the technique and then develop the comfort with that range and technique to just do it without panicking about it.

Clarity can sometimes come from shallower mouthpieces (at the expense of quiet response, warmth of tone and margins of error) but in order to benefit from this you need that range properly developed to begin with.


Is there an alternative note to that E?
Could the phrase just be dropped an octave instead?

Being a good musician and knowing your limits is a positive thing - you'll produce better music (ask yourself: "if I were listening...") and that's always the key to making a good impression.

If others go for the audition and nail it then so be it, they'd probably get the job whether you hit that note or not...
If others go for it and miss (and so do you) then its all about the rest.
If others go for it and splat that E and you play it safe, who'll look best?

It's easy to focus our attention on the little bit we can't play and neglect to polish up the rest - don't.
Thank you id say thats pretty helpful. I'll have to ask my director if it would be okay to drop it an octave considering it appears im the only low brass member signed up so far. If there are any parts where low brass is the only one playing/ has the melody im not sure hed like it down an octave. Do you have any reccomendations for techniques to develop range?
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Thank you id say thats pretty helpful. I'll have to ask my director if it would be okay to drop it an octave considering it appears im the only low brass member signed up so far. If there are any parts where low brass is the only one playing/ has the melody im not sure hed like it down an octave. Do you have any reccomendations for techniques to develop range?
Not sure how much you do/don't already know so apologies if any of this is stuff you already know...

It's a combination of good air support and correct technique.
You ascend using tongue rather than by squeezing lips outwards in a "smile".
If you whistle an arpeggio, you feel how your tongue rises up and forward as you ascend and the opposite to descend? It's the same for brass playing.
You need enough pressure to maintain a seal, but not enough to restrict vibration in the lips - "no pressure" is a myth, but most players use way more than they need.

If it'd starting to sound like it's impossible to learn by just reading then of course you're right...
It comes down to practicing a lot which builds playing habits which will work (and hopefully not building habits that won't).

I'm hesitant to offer any overly invasive advice without seeing you play - I presume you have a teacher already?

Certain types of exercises will help, if you don't already have it, get yourself a copy of Charles Colin "advanced lip flexibilities" - read the foreward in full and work through the exercises slowly (to begin with you'll probably only want the first few pages of volume 1 and some of volume 3).
Yes, it's written for trumpet but the exercises are well written and building them into your routines will help develop range the right way.
 

HeyItsMakaroni

New Member
Not sure how much you do/don't already know so apologies if any of this is stuff you already know...

It's a combination of good air support and correct technique.
You ascend using tongue rather than by squeezing lips outwards in a "smile".
If you whistle an arpeggio, you feel how your tongue rises up and forward as you ascend and the opposite to descend? It's the same for brass playing.
You need enough pressure to maintain a seal, but not enough to restrict vibration in the lips - "no pressure" is a myth, but most players use way more than they need.

If it'd starting to sound like it's impossible to learn by just reading then of course you're right...
It comes down to practicing a lot which builds playing habits which will work (and hopefully not building habits that won't).

I'm hesitant to offer any overly invasive advice without seeing you play - I presume you have a teacher already?

Certain types of exercises will help, if you don't already have it, get yourself a copy of Charles Colin "advanced lip flexibilities" - read the foreward in full and work through the exercises slowly (to begin with you'll probably only want the first few pages of volume 1 and some of volume 3).
Yes, it's written for trumpet but the exercises are well written and building them into your routines will help develop range the right way.
Thank you so much! I appreciate it and will try my best with your advice. I do not know much as i only have a year of experience and am honestly still very much a beginner
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Thank you so much! I appreciate it and will try my best with your advice. I do not know much as i only have a year of experience and am honestly still very much a beginner
Ahh sorry I thought you were talking about the E above high C (on ledger lines above the staff), which is what's referred to as "high E".

(If we're talking about the E in the top space of a treble clef stave, then the book mentioned above will be way too advanced for now.)
 
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HeyItsMakaroni

New Member
Ahh sorry I thought you were talking about the E above that (on ledger lines above the staff), which is what's referred to as "high E" (the names change at C).

(If we're talking about the E in the top space of a treble clef stave, then the book mentioned above will be way too advanced for now.)
That is indeed the E. I play bass clef and its two ledger lines above I belive? My apologies for not being specific. The highest note I can hit with decent clarity is the C thats 1 ledger line above the staff.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
That is indeed the E. I play bass clef and its two ledger lines above I belive? My apologies for not being specific. The highest note I can hit with decent clarity is the C thats 1 ledger line above the staff.
I'm terrible with bass clef :p (most brass banders are, and that's the majority of people on this board).

So if we take your lowest (non pedal) C, we're talking about the E that's above the C two octaves above that? Or one octave above that?
 

Anglo Music Press

Well-Known Member
In ‘brass band pitch’ I think the poster means the F# on the top staff line. (This is written as E - two leger lines above the stave - in bass clef)
 

Queeg2000

Active Member
There's only one way to increase your range and that's practice. No short cuts I'm afraid. The right kind of practice helps, but no getting away from the fact practice is the key.

Don't start on the high notes, start with low notes to warm up, then some scales and arpeggios, slowly working up to the high notes, then work back down again.

The lip is a muscle, you wouldn't go to a gym and pick up the heaviest weights in arrival. Likewise it's not a good idea to pick up a brass instrument and start playing the highest notes you can reach without warning up both instrument and lip.
 

Euphonium Lite

Active Member
I think Philip has nailed the pitch we are talking about. I get the feeling the OP is in the US, is playing in Bass Clef and that will almost certainly be in Concert Pitch (although I know in the US they do have BC parts in Bb pitch?) So its either what a Brass Bander in the UK would call an F# on the top line or an E on the top space for a "tenor pitched" low brass instrument.

Tom has pretty much covered the rest. Its all about technique, with plenty of diaphragm support, and the shaping of your mouth (both internally and externally). Its not a 5 minute job, but I'd also perhaps suggest doing a slight crescendo as you approach the high note - the mechanics involved with that will usually be similar to that needed to increase your range. But dont overblow, and dont strain. There is nothing worse than listening to someone trying to hit a note they cant quite reach, and overblowing and contorting everything to try and hit it. IF you do succeed its almost certainly going to go sharp in such an event and sound crass.
You dont say what the surrounding notes are like and they can sometimes help you (and sometimes hinder you). TBH I would work on getting the blowing basics right and playing safe for your audition, but continue to work on your range in your home practice.

Good luck
 
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