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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPractice Room(Moderator: blast) How can I solidify and increase my range?
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trb420
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« on: Oct 01, 2017, 03:28PM »

I have figured out how to play high, and my range tops out at an F currently. Long term goal is the Bb. How do I make this happen?
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 01, 2017, 05:37PM »

There's no shortcut to upper range.

Emory Remington had an exercise called "Security in the Upper Register".  The original Remington exercise went to Bb above middle C in 1st position, but you can extend it.

You start in 7th position.  Seems upper partials are easier to hit there.  Play an arpeggio: E, G#, B, E (F, G#, A, B, C#, D, E).  Note that I have extended to additional partials.  Some may be easier than others.  Add additional notes one at a time as you are able to play the arpeggio in all positions up to 1st (Bb, D, F, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb).  You will find the arpeggio "poops out" as you go from 7th to 1st.  That's where your limit is.  Try for the next note, but only 3 times during a session.  Do not do this two days in a row -- you need to let the muscles recover from the exertion.

I've been kind of vague because I don't know which Bb you are trying to get to.  The original Remington would get you to Bb 4 lines above the bass staff.  But you may be trying to get to Bb 8 lines and a space above the bass staff (a note not too many of us can reach).  If it's the latter, good luck.  You won't get much call to play it bit you certainly will tick off the trumpets. ;-)
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 01, 2017, 06:03PM »

We ought to have a sticky for stuff like this.
First, as Bruce said, "which Bb?"
Second, I wouldn't begin to tell you what to do. But I'll tell you what I do.
Scales.
Arbans interval studies
Freebuzzing focus on aperture
Play real book tunes up an octave.
Get a teacher and stop asking people on the internet.
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« Reply #3 on: Oct 01, 2017, 06:10PM »

We out to have a sticky for stuff like this.
first, as Bruce said, "which Bb?"
Second, I wouldn't begin to tell you what to do. But I'll tell you what I do.
Scales.
Arbans interval studies
freebuzzing focus on aperture
playreal book tunes up an octave.
Get a teacjer and stop asking people on the internet

I don't think asking people on the internet is necessarily a bad thing....  Don't know occasionally someone contributes a new way of thinking that is useful for others and not just the OP. I have taken away the occasional nugget of gold that came from someone I didnt expect.
It's not always common but I don't think people should be discouraged from asking questions.
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 01, 2017, 06:49PM »

The comedy team Monty Phython addressed a similar problem in the 1970s when asked how to play the flute. The answer was quite simple: You blow in one end, and move your fingers up and down the outside of the instrument.

The answer how to play the trombone should be exactly the same, except for the fingers part. There, another answer from the internet.
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 01, 2017, 06:49PM »

The way to do it is to just play high stuff until you either figure out how to do it correctly, or engrain horrible, teeth bending habits into your playing.

I advocate expanding the lower register as far as you can, and using that concept and embouchure as the basis for the upper register, but then again you want a Bb5, but I can't play higher than F#5   so what do I know?

I think everyone can play up to C5   with proper teaching and practice. I don't think that everyone can play passably much higher than that, even with practice. Sure, many people can. Every pro can. But I'd say the numbers are much lower if you don't look at pros.

Like running. Every pro sprinter can get to 100M in around 10 seconds. Almost no amateur sprinters can, and the ones that can do it in college mostly go pro.

A high C is nothing. It's like running 100M in 14 seconds. That high Bb though...

or on second thought:

http://youtu.be/AkauY6LRx2E
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 01, 2017, 07:11PM »

I don't think asking people on the internet is necessarily a bad thing....  Don't know occasionally someone contributes a new way of thinking that is useful for others and not just the OP. I have taken away the occasional nugget of gold that came from someone I didnt expect.
It's not always common but I don't think people should be discouraged from asking questions.
The best advice is to get a teacher, and if he has a teacher, he shouldn't be asking people on the internet. Why have a teacher if you're just going to allow some random stranger to give likely contradictory advice? I agree we shouldn't discourage people from asking questions, but the answer to this question is only valid if its tailored to him, and none of us know him. Even though each person giving advice wants to be helpful, the net effect is just more confusion, and the inevitable "throw a lot of $#!+, go with what sticks" is simply not very helpful in narrowing down a solution.
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 02, 2017, 07:45AM »

I'm fortunate in having a good high range from the off, everything else, not so good..
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 02, 2017, 07:49AM »

I'm fortunate in having a good high range from the off, everything else, not so good..

He's just being modest, folks!

While it's true, nothing can take the place of a good instructor, this might be of some interest.

A recent discussion on high range articulation

...Geezer
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« Reply #9 on: Oct 02, 2017, 12:32PM »


I'm fortunate in having a good high range from the off, everything else, not so good..

At the time, because of the idea that a high range at an early stage may have indicated a certain degree of competence, more important issues weren't dealt with and these took years to fix.

I would have happily lost some high range for some more basic skills back then.
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« Reply #10 on: Oct 02, 2017, 01:08PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSAIODjaPMo

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« Reply #11 on: Oct 02, 2017, 01:58PM »

The best advice is to get a teacher, and if he has a teacher, he shouldn't be asking people on the internet. Why have a teacher if you're just going to allow some random stranger to give likely contradictory advice? I agree we shouldn't discourage people from asking questions, but the answer to this question is only valid if its tailored to him, and none of us know him. Even though each person giving advice wants to be helpful, the net effect is just more confusion, and the inevitable "throw a lot of $#!+, go with what sticks" is simply not very helpful in narrowing down a solution.

Yes of course a teacher is the best scenario without a doubt. I think most, if not all people know this, and will listen to their teacher intently as their main source for guidance. However, I genuinely believe curious students willing to try any and all ideas though have the best chance of success. They can even take an idea thrown out here to their teacher and have their teacher explain why it is or isn't helpful.
Sometimes it can be good to know for sure that an idea is DEFINITELY bad, but I don't think there is anything wrong with exploration in the practice room.
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« Reply #12 on: Oct 03, 2017, 01:36PM »

I should clarify. I top out at F5 and woukd like to hit the Bb above it
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« Reply #13 on: Oct 03, 2017, 07:38PM »

Trumpet Herald maybe?
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« Reply #14 on: Oct 03, 2017, 09:33PM »

Play absolutely as high as you can every other day, with good fundamentals, air support and not too much pressure.  Don't injure yourself, but it should hurt a little. 

Consult a good teacher/professional player while doing this.

Also...why do you want to play that high?  Have you ever encountered literature that is written above f5?  Are you hitting that "trb420" while you do this?

How's your bass trombone playing?  Your pitch from Bb4 to that F5?  These things will serve you in a professional career much more than your range above an F5. 

Also do you have a Shires Vintage 11C (pre-Pickett) that you are selling?  I'm looking for one.


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« Reply #15 on: Oct 07, 2017, 03:02PM »

Play absolutely as high as you can every other day, with good fundamentals, air support and not too much pressure.  Don't injure yourself, but it should hurt a little. 

Consult a good teacher/professional player while doing this.

Also...why do you want to play that high?  Have you ever encountered literature that is written above f5?  Are you hitting that "trb420" while you do this?

How's your bass trombone playing?  Your pitch from Bb4 to that F5?  These things will serve you in a professional career much more than your range above an F5. 

Also do you have a Shires Vintage 11C (pre-Pickett) that you are selling?  I'm looking for one.




Low range is decent but I exclusively play tenor (and my pitch is spot-on). I just want to be able to play that high, range gas always been a long-term goal for me.
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« Reply #16 on: Oct 07, 2017, 03:46PM »

I have figured out how to play high, and my range tops out at an F currently. Long term goal is the Bb. How do I make this happen?

If you already have a good high F that you can play in a musical context, and importantly not just as a freak note, the others will follow with time and steady practice.
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 07, 2017, 06:37PM »

I walked in to my first lesson with John Swallow and as part of his initial evaluation, I ripped out a crystal clear high F. His reaction was "you can take your high F and 5 cents and go get yourself a cup of coffee". This was when a cup of coffee was 5 cents. In other words, a high F on its own isn't worth anything. It takes more than a high F to make a musician. Forget the Bb, its worth even less than the F. Work on time, intonation, tone, musicality, reading, lip slurs, phrasing, articulation, improvisation, etc. Eventually the horn will start paying you back for that coffee.
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« Reply #18 on: Oct 08, 2017, 12:15AM »

I walked in to my first lesson with John Swallow and as part of his initial evaluation, I ripped out a crystal clear high F. His reaction was "you can take your high F and 5 cents and go get yourself a cup of coffee". This was when a cup of coffee was 5 cents. In other words, a high F on its own isn't worth anything. It takes more than a high F to make a musician. Forget the Bb, its worth even less than the F. Work on time, intonation, tone, musicality, reading, lip slurs, articulation, improvisation, etc. Eventually the horn will start paying you back for that coffee.

And yes I recognize that I'm not looking to expand my range to the extremes so that I can be a better musician. I simply want to be a better trombonist. If (hypothetically) two players were exactly equal in technique, musicality, sound, etc, but one's range was larger than the other's, would that not make him the superior player?

I don't mean to say that I focus obsessively over range to the point of neglecting the other equally if not more important aspects of playing. But range has always been an enigma, sometimes improving rapidly and sometimes regressing, while I could more consistently rely on basic practice to improve the aspects that you mentioned.
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« Reply #19 on: Oct 17, 2017, 12:41PM »

I should clarify. I top out at F5 and woukd like to hit the Bb above it

Assuming you can play consistently with great sound across dynamics from soft (pp) to loud (ff) over a range from F1 to F5, why on Earth would you want to play any higher than F5?

Maybe to increase your confidence at F5?
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« Reply #20 on: Oct 18, 2017, 09:48AM »

Rochut etudes as written, down an octave, in tenor clef, in tenor clef down 2 octaves, and up an octave.  Once you can do all of that beautifully on etude number 1, you won't have a range problem.
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« Reply #21 on: Oct 19, 2017, 08:41AM »

A short question. But a really good answer have to be long. Have you seen the Caruso exercises? Those are good for many players. To be good on the high range (and the low range, and the middle range) you have to play a lot in that range. Scales, Slow, fast, long tones, loud soft. Arpeggio, slow broken chords. Play short melodies, move semitones up until you donīt get any more sound.
Steady airflow, for high range fast thin could air. Do rest inbetween.I donīt know anything about you, how long you been playing, if you play in bands or orchestras what kind of horn or mpc you play. You could have a more specific answer if I know.
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« Reply #22 on: Oct 31, 2017, 12:57AM »

I have figured out how to play high, and my range tops out at an F currently. Long term goal is the Bb. How do I make this happen?

I have had success with increasing my high range with chromatic scales. I also do them as a warm up. It feels great to have played all notes at least once before a rehearsal/performance so I cover the whole register in 5 minutes. I do them in sixteens in one octave and often I start on middle F and go upwards. I usually stop when I come to  if it is a warmup, but at home I continue as high as I can. Then I've found that the factitious notes are good for the low range and to open up the sound so I do those in between as broken chords downwords. It might be the combo that has helped me. I had a limited high register in music college. My low range worked better. This said my progress and work with this range-building exercise started long after I had graduated, after my emboshure was ready for it.

I think it is important to BE ready for the task, in this case the next higher note. In the chromatic exercise the step from your best note is just a semitone from your limit. This means you are ready for that note as long as you have done right so far. For me it never worked to aim for the highest possible note on the horn. That only destroyed my overall playing and the note I got was NEVER a good sound and never usable, but that was the way I practised when I was very young, before high school before I got an experienced teacher.

In high school when I got that teacher I changed my playing completely from a destroying smile-embouchure to an academic more "normal" tight embouchure. This was done because I could not play anything higher than a    It is another chapter and you don't need to know details, but just as to make you understand where I come from.

I have had REAL problems with range that has been solved.

I also had the help of a great teacher so I advice to have lessons. Even though I could not do it right back then with the teacher I had the words of advice I got in my head for many years to help me to get where I am today. I did understand the concept of a good working embouchure at the time but because if the way I had played it had to take a lot of efforts to correct things.

/Tom
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« Reply #23 on: Oct 31, 2017, 11:42AM »

Okay, this isn't so directed to OP, since it doesn't involve going above a F5, but I find whenever my upper range is getting squirrelly, I pull out the Ropartz "Piece" for a couple of weeks, and it locks in my upper range again.  It requires such sensitive upper playing, with a wide variety of dynamics, that it forces you to have a clear, supported, relaxed upper range.  And, it is a lot more fun than exercises!
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« Reply #24 on: Nov 30, 2017, 10:23AM »

I have had success with increasing my high range with chromatic scales. I also do them as a warm up. It feels great to have played all notes at least once before a rehearsal/performance so I cover the whole register in 5 minutes. I do them in sixteens in one octave and often I start on middle F and go upwards. I usually stop when I come to  if it is a warmup, but at home I continue as high as I can. Then I've found that the factitious notes are good for the low range and to open up the sound so I do those in between as broken chords downwords. It might be the combo that has helped me. I had a limited high register in music college. My low range worked better. This said my progress and work with this range-building exercise started long after I had graduated, after my emboshure was ready for it.

I think it is important to BE ready for the task, in this case the next higher note. In the chromatic exercise the step from your best note is just a semitone from your limit. This means you are ready for that note as long as you have done right so far. For me it never worked to aim for the highest possible note on the horn. That only destroyed my overall playing and the note I got was NEVER a good sound and never usable, but that was the way I practised when I was very young, before high school before I got an experienced teacher.

In high school when I got that teacher I changed my playing completely from a destroying smile-embouchure to an academic more "normal" tight embouchure. This was done because I could not play anything higher than a    It is another chapter and you don't need to know details, but just as to make you understand where I come from.

I have had REAL problems with range that has been solved.

I also had the help of a great teacher so I advice to have lessons. Even though I could not do it right back then with the teacher I had the words of advice I got in my head for many years to help me to get where I am today. I did understand the concept of a good working embouchure at the time but because if the way I had played it had to take a lot of efforts to correct things.

/Tom


Thanks for sharing!  It is encouraging to hear that you were topped out at    and that range gets better with the right practice.  I listened to some of the your recordings on your site the other day.  Your high notes sound pretty good now.   
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« Reply #25 on: Nov 30, 2017, 10:53AM »

i would recommend two octave major arpeggios starting on low E - going up and making sure to come back down with a good sound. I play them to failure everyday in the middle of my practice routine (after about 20-30 minutes warmup) when I get to C3 ( ) I start going down three octaves and maintaining sound.

I do this everyday until failure, it's helped my range go from the standard Bb4 ( ) to currently topping out at C7. There are some chamber works that get up to C6 and higher nowadays, so I find having a good F6 at a minimum everyday is a must for my professional work. 99.9% of the time these notes are unnecessary, and working on the fundamentals is the best use of time. But if you have extra time and you work on coming back down while maintaining tone I feel confident in saying this exerise will increase your range by about a half step every few months with consistancy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9n0n-flseE
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« Reply #26 on: Dec 02, 2017, 01:19AM »

Eh, I suppose I will try what I can on an online format.

1. Range extension exercises. Here is one based on what singers often use.

Using NO tongue, gliss and lip-slur as needed:

Bb - C - Bb - A - Bb... (pause) B - C# - B - A# - B... (pause) C - D - C - B - C... (pause) Db - Eb - Db - C - Db... (pause) D - E - D - C# - D... (pause)

2. Flexibility exercises, done at a slow tempo. Bonus points for wider intervals. It's not about skill and flash here. Really feel your face flexing as you hit the different harmonic series. Feeelll the buuuuurn.  Evil

Seriously though, flexibility exercises are not just about hitting partials. They are also like strength and conditioning for your face. Just because you can lip slur a bunch of different partials, does not mean you can stop doing flexibility exercises.

3. About technique...

Yes, some strength is needed, but also, don't forget technique. High note techniques are complicated because many things all play into one another.

To play high notes, you fundamentally need a higher-frenquency buzz from your lips. To facilitate this, taut lips and a faster, narrower exhale is used.
Speaking of the faster, narrower exhale, in the quest to achieve this, many players run into a problem- tension; in particular, tension where it does not belong (tension in your neck, throat, or chest is a no-no; they can directly hinder your air from moving)

Always imagine a wide open airway all throughout your body, and think about shaping the air mainly with your vowel syllable (switch from a "ahh" to something closer to an "ehhh", like the Canadians do in their expression, eh?), and lips (engage the muscles around your face to fold your lips "tighter"- but you must do it without "smiling"). Never think about your trachea physically becoming narrower to produce a narrow air shape, tensing up your neck to make the air narrower or anything like that.

Speaking of changing the vowel, that alone opens up some delicate tug-of-war stuff. If your tongue is way too low, your range may well "cap out" because wider air goes against high notes (think about how when you play low notes, you are taught to think about wide, slow air to produce a low-frequency buzz in your lips), but if your tongue is way too close to the roof of the mouth, this causes a cat-like "hiss" in your sound. If your jaw is dropped too much, you may similarly not get any high notes period because your syllable is causing the air to be too wide in shape; if your jaw is not dropped enough, you may struggle to play them in fortissimo... it's complicated. 

Speaking of lips, which lip is folded over which/the angle of your airstream/the positioning of the mouthpiece also has an effect. Some teachers tell you to think about aiming your air into different parts of the mouthpiece, some teachers make you "bias" toward a certain lip in the mouthpiece, some teachers make you physically tilt the bell of the horn into certain angles... they are all different approaches to address that one issue.

Yes, your chops need to be up to par, but don't forget that it's not just a matter of using more strength and jamming the mouthpiece harder against your lips (speaking of which, please refrain from doing this in excess; this can actually cause toothaches). You need to be smart with your technique as well, and it has to be juuuust on point.
Muscle memory is not just for your arms or your fingers. How you shape your embouchure and how you engage your abs- they are "muscle memory" too.
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« Reply #27 on: Dec 02, 2017, 05:15AM »

Have a lesson with Doug Elliott  Clever



Maggio !!
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« Reply #28 on: Dec 11, 2017, 03:23AM »

--snip--
many players run into a problem- tension; in particular, tension where it does not belong (tension in your neck, throat, or chest is a no-no; they can directly hinder your air from moving)
--snip--
I'm paraphrasing here, but, this is what a master trombonist player/instructor once told me: "It's a natural thing to want to 'help' the lips (with neck, throat, chest, etc.) but it is exactly what is *not* needed. We must train ourselves to simply get out of the way."
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« Reply #29 on: Dec 11, 2017, 05:33AM »

I'm paraphrasing here, but, this is what a master trombonist player/instructor once told me: "It's a natural thing to want to 'help' the lips (with neck, throat, chest, etc.) but it is exactly what is *not* needed. We must train ourselves to simply get out of the way."

This is how it starts to feel when everything is working well enough, when playing becomes to be easy. Then you can relax and practice not to be in the way of things and be in the precense and have confidence in it to happen. Not only high range also the same for speed and low range as well as wide dynamics and quality of tone, and beeing crative when playing improvised solos. Let it happen and don't be in the way of it to happen.

For me I think tone and flow was the first thing to happen and at about the same time I found a vibrato that helped the music and connected everything. High range came from there, and ascending chromatic scales was my way of taking that flow up into the higher register. It took many years to find the first clue on how to not be in way of my own playing. I think I had finished music college before that first happened.

/Tom
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« Reply #30 on: Dec 13, 2017, 03:40PM »

What's helped me immensely in the past couple weeks when I've tried to get my high range in great shape has actually been the advice that Phil Myers gave to horn players for security.

The biggest difficulty I have with high range is picking off notes and re-articulating the same note. Slurring hasn't been a problem since High School, but I still feel like I'm playing russian roulette on a bad day trying to come in above    .

Phil Myers's advice was this: set the embouchure and blow. Put the lips together, and exhale. The zen interpretation of this is that all unnecessary tension/motion/emotion is eliminated. The trick then is to do it right so many times that hitting the notes becomes the norm, rather than the exception.

The advice Toby Oft gave at one point also comes to mind, namely that one should only practice hitting high notes, not missing them. Practice the high register when you're fresh enough to be reliably hitting the notes. Otherwise you will be reinforcing bad habits that cause you to frack notes.

Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was built by architects. Having a goal in mind is the most important thing for practicing anything, but for the high register it becomes of utmost importance. Knowing how the notes should sound is both crucial and the most difficult part, as we begin to develop that register necessarily without being able to produce those notes. Playing notes an octave or several below, as well as harmonious intervals with the desired note, are good ways to develop this concept. This is why lip slurs (a la Remington) are so helpful for developing those notes.
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