the past few years, several people have asked me to give
them some quick advice for playing in the high register.
It's difficult to distill high playing into a few remarks.
But the following few things can be regarded as rules of
thumb which are simple, don't require much effort to incorporate
into your playing technique and should produce positive
1. Move the mouthpiece down on your lips. This is
discussed in detail in the link at the bottom of the home
page introduction segment just above the signature.
2. Curl the bottom lip in very slightly toward the
bottom teeth, and try to divert most of any pressure
you are using toward the bottom lip by rotating the bell down a few degrees. This will also tend
to relieve pressure on the top lip. This pressure reduction
will improve both high range and endurance.
3. Try to develop a "pucker" embouchure by pushing the horn
away with the lips. Another way to accomplish this is to
form what I've called "shock absorber lips". This means
try to maintain a little more meat (lip tissue) than
you're used to, between the mouthpiece and your lower teeth.
4. Practice LOUD playing. This tends to open the
larynx and increase air flow thus tending to provide the
increased kinetic energy necessary to induce vibration in
the lips at very high frequencies.
5. Grip the trumpet with the left hand near the bottom
of the valves. The accepted way to do this is to place
three fingers of your left hand (middle, ring and little
fingers) below the third valve slide, and the index finger
over this slide for stability. The weight of the horn is
then supported by these three fingers. This does three things.
First, pressure tends to be diverted toward your bottom
lip because of the three inch lever arm between the line
of thrust of the pressure (beneath the third valve slide)
and the mouthpipe. Second, the top lip tends to free up
(which is desirable) when pressure is applied. And third,
the bottom lip tends to be forced up against the top lip
thus enhancing range potential.
6. Practice lip slurs over intervals of a fifth.
7. Practice two octave arpeggios.
Practice to cultivate a lip vibrato over the complete
range from lowest to highest notes. Also, try to perfect
this vibrato over the complete dynamic range even though
you probably won't use it very much. This lip vibrato will
guarantee that pressure will not be excessive.
To avoid a thin sound in the high register, it is
necessary to open the aperture somewhat. A convenient
way to accomplish this is to set the aperture opening (before
attempting any sound) by puting your tongue between your
lips and into the mouthpiece. This gives what I've called
a "managebly open" aperture. Playing this way
requires lots more air, but this too, improves the sound
in all registers. Since this isn't an exact procedure, a
little experimentation may be required to make sure the
aperture is not too large.
Try to use as much air as you can and play robustly.
These and other range enhancing concepts are discussed at
length in "A New Approach to Altissimo
Trumpet Playing" by John H. Lynch (C. L. Barnhouse,
Publisher). Click here for a detailed description of the Ideal Embouchure for high
register playing. This embouchure is not required, however, for the Asymmetric
Mouthpiece to work well. The only embouchure requirement for Asymmetric mouthpieces
is the 1/3, 2/3 mouthpiece position.