Since we all are teachers, whether ultimately "our own teacher", teaching others privately or teaching the youth in a school setting such as Middle School, High School or College level, I will be gearing FixYourBrass to include teachers and performers. My posts will have various "topics" (Range, for example), with information for development and maintaining these categories as well as problems that may arise. The posts may be followed by my own "comments" and as to solutions to these problems watch for follow-up posts. So please add your own comments as to create a dialogue regarding said posts as well as any "personal problems" that I can help with. Looking forward to this exchange.


Friday, August 13, 2010

The Category of Range

Of all "topics" of brass playing categories, Range seems to be the "burning issue", especially among the young performer. As a first in a series of Categories of Brass Playing I have chosen Range for this very reason - the "burning issue".

What is range? A good question. High notes? I think not. The very word "range" means covering a certain distance, so asking someone "what is your range?" he/she may answer "Oh, I can play a high C." Ah, so what is that person's "range"? One note? A person's range is from his/her lowest note to his/her highest note. For instance, from a low F# to a high C is a range of 2 1/2 octaves.

A good playable range, in today's playing field for trumpet is 3 octaves, say from G below low C to G above high C. A trombone's range is considerably wider, including the instrument's pedal notes [naturally produced on trombone, but unaturally produced on trumpet, due to not being available on the instrument without "lip manipulations" or, in come cases "lip and/or jaw distortions" of some sort - ed.] that may be more like 4 octaves. A trombone player's range is much easier to attain than a trumpet player's range and with a slide assist [a later topic -ed.] there is no excuse for this not to be true.

Certain principals of playing need to be addressed and certain "myths" need to be expelled to make it possible to delve into this subject in depth. Let's start with an established "truth" (myth) that has been passed down through generations of brass teachers and method books, that "A good high register is built on a good low register(foundation, so to speak)." This is what I will call a "half-truth". The correct statement should be thus: "A good high register is build on a good low register if the low register is played correctly." [emphasis mine - ed.]

How to play the low register correctly to ensure a good high register? The topic of our next Post. This "How to..." will definitely apply to the beginner as well as to any brass player struggling with range.


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