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TECHNIQUE

Over 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 results.

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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.