I make this post with significantly less frustration than I usually experience, lol. Right now I am nearly satisfied, because so many things are improving…my tone quality, my dynamic range, my endurance, articulation, flexibility etc…but not my range. I am still stuck at a G or A just above the staff, which is far below where I feel I should be for my skill and the time I put into the trumpet. I am posting because I am confused that I am improving in all other areas except range. What isn’t clicking? Where is the disconnect? And what should I focus on in the course or do more of to help this issue?
Glad you’re less frustrated than normal and experiencing so many improvements.
I’m sure most players on here relate to your frustration regarding range and is why many of us are here and why Greg created WindWorks, etc.
It’s hard to help you without some more information. Perhaps for starters if you could share how long you’ve been playing and how long you’ve been doing the WindWOrks course, that might help people make appropriate suggestions.
Personally, I always find the text scrolling at the bottom of the website helpful:
1. Clamping the lips and over-blowing are the two most common problems
2. SHAPE changes pitch!
3. The lips interact with the air like the vocal chords
4. Air is for volume and long tones
5. Less air travels through the horn the higher you play
6. Critical awareness of the problem is ½ the solution
7. Practice is experimentation…a process of elimination based on ideas gathered from teachers, experiences and instinct
My experience was similar to yours for many years, my range was limited to where yours is. Less than a couple years ago, I started playing again and found myself on YouTube learning about different concepts regarding playing.
The things that helped me with range the most was the concept that less air is required the higher we play and the harmonics in the upper register get closer and closer together the higher we play (i.e. low C to G on the staff is a 5th, whereas High C to the next harmonic is a whole note to D natural, etc.
I played G and A below the staff, followed by G and A on the staff and closed my eyes and noticed how little effort it took to play an octave higher. And less air is required the higher we play, so I played G and A on the staff and tried to move as little as possible to change shape in order to change pitch to the octave above, playing softer. I focused on being as relaxed as possible and keeping my throat open. A good breath, but less air. And I had zero expectations, I was just mimicking something I saw on YouTube, but the A above the staff came out–and an A, for me, was a note I really only could get on my best days reliably and only for a very limited time. This was different, it was easy.
I used to have to chromatically ascend up to higher notes, and I would begin straining, tilting my head back, rolling my lower lip under and all sorts of manipulations to play higher.
Since employing the principles Greg espouses on WindWorks, it’s no harder for me to play High C than it is a middle C or E on the staff when I am doing things right. Tonight, wasn’t my best practice session, but I had that sensation tonight. And my range is now E or F above High C.
I’m still on this journey as well and figuring things out and trying to maintain consistency. Sometimes I fall into bad habits and clamp my lips top-to-bottom rather than engaging the aperture corners and shrinking the aperture inward horizontally from the outside inward around the air column. What helps me is when I catch myself struggling with range, to focus on tightening the aperture from the sides inward and opening my throat and relaxing and playing softer.
Another good check for me is to focus on steady, consistent, passive air and doing harmonic slurs to see how I’m changing pitch–am I engaging the aperture corners and changing pitch, or am I relying just on tongue arch and/or kicking the air.
My sound is another guide that helps me–is it open, resonant, or is it pinched, tight, small?
My strategy with range is to get the pitch softly first, then I can work on giving it more air to increase volume through practice.
I hope the above is helpful to you. I’m doing another round through the WindWorks course–each time I do it, I get more out of it and gain a more solid understanding of how to play, etc.
Best of luck to you! Please let us know how it goes.
Hi John, thank you for your advice. I decided to really zone in and experiment with the aperture corner tension the last few days and have noticed some improvement. I am going to continue this and watch every video Greg has on range/aperture.
To answer your questions, Ive been playing for 8 years and Ive been doing WW for three months now.
I understand this kind of frustration. I have quite the same problem. I could hit some note like high C or above, but never really did it like a knack. Meaning : that was somehow lucky or not understanding the process, or with pure force using arpaggio’s like in Gordon’s approach.
I have put away my trumpet since a few months… But in the end, I guess, as long as your sound is improving and some things are getting easier, that’s for the best ! And as many trumpeters who want to have a greater range, including myself, we should be happy that something is improving, and focus on that. If you got worse, that would be different. But if you improve…. great !
That means someday you’ll get a better range too. But, maybe, I said with a lot of precaution, some bigger work should be done where things begin to get harder.
That said, on my side, I think I didn’t put enough energy on getting higher, and by energy I mean time, thinking, and process. Not pure force 🙂
But creating a good and solid foundation is good too.