How Do I Play High Notes On Trumpet?

How Do I Play High Notes On Trumpet?

How To Play High Notes

This article is not going to make every trumpet player have the ability to play screaming high notes.  Truthfully there is no secret to playing higher notes on the trumpet, but this article will give you some tools to use to help you expand your range.  Also remember that just playing these exercises once will not make your range be automatically better, these are exercises that are meant to be performed daily just like if you were preparing for a marathon. 

First thing to do is practice breathing from your belly and filling the lungs up from the bottom to the top.  If you are not practicing good breathing and breathe support then playing higher notes will be a problem for you.  The breathing work you want to focus on the force and speed of the breath, keep the air hot and moving the air as fast as you can get it.  The air first mentality will also help remove the thoughts of the notes being high; when we think of nights as being “high” we tend to mentally think that it is harder.  My trumpet professor in college would always tell me that there is no difference between the notes; a G is a G no matter where it is on the staff.  I always was told to play with my lips tighter; yes the embouchure needs to be tighter to play high notes but it should not be the focus of the sound.

As for the exercises I use (yes I still currently use them), I start my day with expanding long tones.  I start with G and expand up and down chromatically.  I go down one half step to F# then up half a step to G#, then you keep expanding out by a half step from each note.  After playing the long tones, I keep the idea of expanding but I move to the Vincent Cichowicz Flow Studies.  The flow studies are played with the idea of expanding the range, start on the first one and then move onto the second.  The second scale adds one more note to the top of the exercise.  With both of these exercises remember to play to your highest note you can and then try to play one more above it; I personally try three times even if you are unsuccessful at playing that note. 

The second exercise I use to build my range is not just one exercise but several in one book.  I play several lip slurs from, Embouchure Builder by Lowell Little.  This book not only works on range but will help with creating the slur itself smooth and even.  I pick slurs out of the book that use a wide range of notes and that also vary in the form of the slur.  I also like playing some of the slurs from this book for the technical practice too.  The later part of the book is the best part of the book; it provides playing from the low G to the high C above the staff. 

For younger inexperienced players who want to expand their range, keep practicing daily and pushing the range each day.  Remember to stay calm and support the air with the diaphragm, if you let the lips try to carry the sound you can cause several problems with the range building.  Finally do not push too hard, if the body is telling you that it is tired then stop and take a break.  The lips should never feel like they have several needles poking them, icing the lips will help alleviate the swelling and pain if you have any.  Finally just listen to professionals who have a great upper register on the trumpet.  Listen for the sound they are making and see if you can draw a picture of what the air or sound is doing.  

Previous article What the Fuzz?
Next article Five Common Mistakes Of Young Trumpet Players