Where is your bar?

Where is YOUR bar? Not the closest watering hole as they say in Texas. Where have you set the bar for your playing? People wonder if it is fair that I say they needed to have things ready on 1 days notice. That depends. Do you want to be the player every one counts on to be perfect, or do you always want to sit in the audience and watch the player that everyone counts on? My level of meanness is based on the level of a students knowledge and skill. I treat a comeback player who stopped in High School a lot different than someone who is auditioning for Grad school and I treat them different than a good full time pro player. The better you get the higher the bar and that is how we constantly improve. But the bar isn’t what we can work up. It is […]

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Improving your high range and how to play the trumpet

Article by Clint “Pops” McLaughlin – reprinted from Windplayer Magazine issue #64 I think the biggest problem with playing high and endurance (both go hand-in-hand) has to do with being impatient. When you start learning how to play the trumpet as a kid, you want to get a bigger sound immediately, so rather than take the months and years it takes for a regular embouchure to get a big sound, you start opening your mouth wider than it really should be. And so you immediately get a bigger sound, but there is no way to add compression and get range out of it. The hole (aperture) is too big. Then when younger students try to play high, they use mouthpiece pressure and pull the horn into their face, because their lips are so open. It’s pretty much like stepping on a dough-nut: teeth on one side and mouthpiece on the […]

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How to build musical range

There is a huge difference between playing music and “WORKING on your range”. I worked on my range 30 years ago and forgot how to play. That’s one reason I ended up at Jacobys’. The weight lifting / marathon running concept applied to trumpet playing leads to failure. Every aspect of playing that is important in the lower and middle register is also important above the staff. ie tone, phrasing, smooth slurs, clean tonguing. We learn these by playing music like the Concone studies. Well if you want those same skills in the upper register then play music in the upper register. A month of playing those same Concone studies an octave up will do more for your playing than a year of arpeggios, scales , pushups or anything else. Yes it is HARD to do. It is NOT fun and since you will not perfect it in a day […]

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Range lesson

1st lesson for range. Well the real key as always is to move the air faster and farther. To keep abdominal reserve strength work on a natural approach below 4th space e . If you place your hand on your stomach and sing a g or c you will find that you do not tense your muscles. Check to see if you are using this same relaxed approach to playing. It only takes a day or two to learn this and you have more strength to speed up the air in the high c area. For the mental part there are several points. Low notes are more non-directional than high ones. All you want to do is let them roll out of the bell onto the floor. Nice and relaxed using warm breath (haaa). The higher notes are directional and you want to shoot them through the horn to the […]

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Developing range

I prefer the use of lip slurs and trills combined with playing simple melodies as opposed to arpeggios. The reason is that lip trills help to keep your lips flexible while arpeggios tend to make them stiff. Also by playing simple melodies one or two octaves up you work on musicianship and ear-training not just making awful squeels and squeeks. Any melody will work Mary had a little lamb or any melody I have included Blue Bells of Scotland as an example. When you can play it up 1 octave then work on playing it up 2 octaves. You will notice that it is more difficult to play a melody than to do arpeggios but it is much more beneficial as well. Pops

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Pedal tones

I realize that there are some teachers and books that advocate the use of pedal tones to help extend your range. I am not one of them for several reasons. 1. 90% of the people who play pedal tones allow their lips to roll out or protrude into the cup of the mouthpiece. Both of these are contrary to the action needed to play high. Pedals are fine if you maintain a correct embouchure however someone needs to watch you play or you must use a mirror to advoid embouchure shifts. 2. Pedals will not build muscle needed to play high. Even when played properly pedals are played with much less tension than high notes. Only playing high will build the muscles needed to play high. 3. How many pieces of music require the use of pedal tones? If you never need to play them then why the extra practice? […]

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