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Recently, I have been having almost a breakthrough with my trumpet range. For the past month or so, I have been consistently able to hit an E/F above the staff everyday. However, there is only a short time after I’ve warmed up (that i like to call my prime time) where I can play these notes strong and bold enough to be deemed actually playing them, until my playing becomes queasy. I got the job of playing lead trumpet for my high school jazz ensemble this year, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to play those high notes like a lead trumpet, consistently throughout an entire concert. I realize all I really do is play double octave scales to practice, which I guess is not really much of an endurance exercise for the upper notes, so what kinds of exercises or practices would be suggested for me?

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    As the old saying goes, "you wanna play high, you need to play high". While the saying is true, range works in both directions, so you also want to practice playing low. Instead of 2 octaves, work on playing as many octaves of every scale as you can, up and down. Try a note 3 times and let it go. Slowly add notes on both sides over time; you'll be playing sky-high in no-time. – jjmusicnotes Jan 1 at 15:44
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Playing high is much more about control than strength. You're probably getting tired quickly because you're trying to rely on strength rather than air support and a controlled embouchure.

The best way to improve range is not to work on playing your highest notes, but to work on making slightly lower notes easier. Focus on trying to play high C with as little effort as possible, supporting it with a fast airstream and firm but controlled corners.

Working on pedal tones can also help. Counterintuitively, the same kind of control needed to play high is also needed to play low. I really like the Stamp exercises, or you can simply play scales that end below the standard range. Pedal notes like to wobble like crazy, so the challenge is to hold them steady using a focused airstream and holding the corners perfectly still.

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    Thank you for the great advice! I’d never thought about how the low register could affect the upper. If you don’t mind explaining, what exactly are the Stamp exercises? – Linvia Ong Jan 1 at 1:18
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    James Stamp - Warm Ups and Studies. I don't own the book, but multiple teachers had me work out of it and I memorized the first several. I should probably buy it... – MattPutnam Jan 1 at 1:33
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    James Stamp - recommended by Alison Balsom! – Brian THOMAS Jan 1 at 12:58
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Here's a different slant—try being a team member. If you know you have an exposed passage coming up, arrange with one of the other trumpet players that they'll do your line for a couple of bars (which will be in the stave) while you gather yourself before coming in above the stave. Also, farm out the high parts so everyone has a go. This is much less pressured for you, and everyone else in the section gets the opportunity to shine.

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    That’s a very nice idea! Sounds fun, too! It would definitely be a lot less stressful to me to meet the expectations. My friends would enjoy it as well! I might actually ask my director if it would be okay to do that, I appreciate the different approach to help! – Linvia Ong Jan 1 at 15:37
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It is normal that you can reach the higher tones easier when the instrument is cold. Further your lips and muscles are getting tired - also from warming up.

I've seen a video where a trumpeter puts his tongue between the under lip and the teeth to play high notes. The tone is not so fine but at least he is able to reach the notes.

When I am not in form I try this trick.

As you know there are many different embouchures and also many bad habits, like e.g. to blow up the cheeks to get the tension, but in an exception situation everything is allowed ...

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    Sometimes, when I feel I am very close to reaching a note, I tend to puff out my cheeks a bit from an extra burst of air. It usually works for me, so I do it more often now, however do you believe that’s a bad habit? I’m always scared of developing bad habits, but I can’t think of a reason why it would be. Would it affect my playing in the long-run? – Linvia Ong Jan 1 at 1:24
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    There are famous Jazz trumpeter who used this style, like L.A. I‘ve never seen a Classic musician playing this way. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 1 at 7:26
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    If you put your tongue between your lower or upper lip and your teeth you won't be able to blow down the trumpet at all. Tongue should stay behind your teeth always. Also, the temperature of the instrument makes no difference whatsoever. – Brian THOMAS Jan 1 at 12:54
  • I said: tongue between the under lip and the teeth not between the upper lips. And I don't say it' s a good practice. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 2 at 16:38
  • What's an under lip? Would you explain? – Brian THOMAS Jan 5 at 18:09
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Try to focus on relaxing your face muscles and making your air faster. When the note does come out, it shouldn't be forced; it should just be a result of your fast air. I think working up to the note with scales is a good idea, just don't over do it all at once.

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