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 Post subject: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:02 pm 
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Location: Pennsylvania, USA
I would like to start seriously improving my upper register, the main goal being to add high Baroque to my capabilities. I have read many conflicting views about how hard to push oneself past the pain point. I do not mind the pain, but I certainly do not want to do any damage to the chops. Any thoughts/advice/opinions would be great.

Also, I would deeply appreciate any suggestions as to methods of developing the high notes. (BTW, Old Cyril, I studied horticulture in college, no time for the horn.)


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 4:32 pm 
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Location: USA, San Diego, California
I had a very interesting conversation recently with Duanne Dugger of the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra. We ran into each other at the beach in La Jolla, California a few weeks ago. They (CSO) not too long ago went through three principal position players (maybe it was 2 but I think it was 3) in a short period of time. The injuries were muscle tears and a nerve calcification. This was attributed to the high range and aggresive nature of their playing in their very large hall.

Coincidentally a dental/oral research specialist friend was with us and as I understand it, when we play we are taking an 'isometric muscle group' and performing a contraction that essentialy actively holds it at a fixed length. Not exactly what the muscle was made to do. This is like holding a weight with your arms straight out in front of you. It can get real heavy real fast. If you continue to hold this for too long you will hurt yourself.

I feel if you have some sort of ache and pain from exercising the muscle (as you would in a good physical workout) you will be fine. Anymore pain than that and I think you are doing yourself some damage.

I am really a low horn player. But, I have found myself having to play high F's above the staff regularly the past several years. My method of achieving this range was to do a series of chromatic scales. Start with C below the treble clef and go up to C 3rd space and back down. Repeat C# up to C# and back down. Continue this pattern until you get to a chromatic scale you cannot complete and stop (don't do a warm down). If you do this once in the morning and once in the evening you should find yourself adding a half step each week. Also, you should consider doing long low tones before this exercise. The long tones on low notes will help center your embouchre, which will aid in your being able to play higher. As I added the range, I also took my etudes and transposed them up accordingly so that I not only increased my range with the scales but also used the range in context to performing.

Hope this helps and I am sure there will be other helpful ideas as well.

John



to Hobbes below --I meant the F just above three ledger lines above the treble clef. Lots of arrangements for the local Horn club, London Horn Sound arrangements, and such.


Last edited by Johnlovemusic on Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:28 pm 
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Johnlovemusic, when you say that you've regularly had to play 'high Fs above the staff', do you mean F 2 octaves and a 4th above middle C?! Impressive stuff if so, though a regular diet of Marie Theresens (and I think there's a Bach Cantata maybe that ends up there) would have most of us shaking with fright!

My experience with the high baroque stuff is pretty much that you have to be naturally happy up there in order to really pull it off properly. That's probably not very helpful though, sorry! Fingering notes a semi-tone higher once above a top C is a good trick. As is wearing a very tight pair of pants.

Too spicy a curry is not recommended for baroque music, as the temptation to increase pressure and blowing harder can lead to undesirable stains, though a healthy dosage of garlic is certainly recommended for thinning the blood when at altitude.


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:08 pm 
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:lol: Thanks for that Hobbes. I will watch my diet before playing. Your post reminded me of another fear. As a 16 year old trumpeter, I gave myself an inguinal hernia showing off in a parade trying to play lip trills (c/d) while marching up a steep hill. The surgeon warned that likely the other side would go next if I was not careful. Never happened. I always remain seated when playing high notes, for the extra support. I never feel any indication of another such injury while playing horn. It is one reason I enjoy horn over the trumpet.


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:14 pm 
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I have a theory that players who found the extreme high register quite comfortable
(Ifor James Dennis Brain Frank Lloyd Alan Civil) did/do not have the "recommended"
Farkas embouchure but more of a centred Trumpet position.

Just a theory I could be completely wrong :oops:


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:13 pm 
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According to Arban, the proper trumpet mouthpiece position is not centered, but more lower than upper. But many do play centered. When I (reluctantly) pick up my cornet, I find myself going back to my old 2/5 upper 3/5 lower position, exactly inverse from my comfortable horn embouchure.

I had the good fortune as a young trumpeter to have a fine teacher who trained me the light pressure technique that is rare among trumpets compared to hornists. It made the switch to horn much easier.

I suspect that great high horn players are so adept mainly because of hours of consistent practice on high notes. I have found that playing one or two steps higher than what is actually demanded of me is the best way to the goal. Next week I am going to start practising notes on the treble clef. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:19 am 
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Eric

When you changed from trumpet to horn did you find the high register (even up to
top C ) fairly easy and the bottom register difficult with breaks and so on.
Or did your teacher change you to a "horn" embouchure right away.

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:11 am 
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Chris, you are exactly correct. I had an incredible high horn range right off, but with little control. On the low end, I could not play anything below a G. I had no teacher. However a friend handed me a Denis Wick 4 mouthpiece (18 mm inside rim) which helped considerably. Eventually I found PHC has an 18 mm rim, which is what I use to this day. In lieu of a teacher, I purchased the Farkas book, from which I learned to place the mouthpiece as I now do. I still check back in that book for brush-ups on basics. I also use the warm-ups every time I practise. I strongly adhere to the habit of practising the entire range every session.

When I first started with Burt Myers, my trumpet teacher, we spent the first two months almost entirely on the low range. I recall nearly quitting with him because of that....since I already was an advanced player and felt such exersises were below my level. I later learned that his purpose was to break me of playing with mouthpiece pressure. After the two months, he completely changed me to a light pressure technique. It did not talke long until I had both a srtong high range and considerable endurance up there. I wish I could find a horn teacher that good locally.

Alburtis Myers was a cornet soloist with John Philip Sousa for a few years, and conductor of the Allentown Band, America's oldest civillian band for 50 years. Once I was trying to choose between two new cornets. He offered to try them out preceeded with the excuse that he had not played a cornet for about ten years. At age 83, he played absolutely beautifully, with a tone that I had never heard before. He told me to buy the Bach Strad, and went back to working on his cigar.


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:11 pm 
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Thanks Eric that's very interesting.

I must say you deserve a medal for doing the complete Farkas warm up before
every session, and if you can do that you must be a fine player. (NOT being
patronising!)


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 Post subject: Re: How much is too much?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:29 pm 
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I can play the Farkas warmups beautifully. As for anything else.... :oops:


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