Playing High Notes On The Trumpet: Reality Check

Playing high notes on the trumpet is one of those things that is consistently at the highest demand from beginners and intermediate players, mostly because they see others do it and they want to join in. Probably the same reason why I always buy a cupcake after watching someone else enjoy one.

First off, by high notes I mean notes around C above the staff, known by many as “high C”. This could include A, Bb and B above the staff for you, or maybe you’ve got the high C/D and are struggling to hit those E/Fs. Also, this post is not about learning how to play high and it’s also not about dismissing the high range as something unimportant. This is for those trumpet players out there stressing about high notes and making it their practice priority. If that’s you, please please read this:

ONE – Focusing on high range practice without a balance of fundamentals is just another way to achieve hurting your chops. Be sure to  play flexibilities, long tones and low notes before your high range practice. This is why marching band can be so damaging to players that do not warm-up properly and then go on the field and blast high Ds until their lips bleed…literally.

TWO – If you’re planing on auditioning for all-state, college or a competition, the judge listening to you will rather accept someone who can’t yet play above high C but CAN play rhythmically and musically, than someone who can play double high Cs but can’t for their life keep the beat or play dynamics. That’s reality. Believe it!

THREE – If you have a hard time playing with good rhythm, jumping around intervals, playing in tune and understanding musicality, there are a lot of other things you should be worrying about other than high notes. The best part is that when you really start nailing all those other things, your high range will start expanding bit by bit. Now that doesn’t mean that the high range develops on its own. It doesn’t. You actually have to play up there to be able to play up there. However, focusing on fundamentals now will help you focus your tone and air flow, consequently aiding your high range development in the future.

FOUR – The kids that can play super high in middle and high school are usually not the ones making it big. Why? Because all they care about is playing high and that doesn’t really work in the professional world. So don’t stress about what they’re doing. You do you, and focus on fundamentals. Very soon, you’ll be breezing past the competition!

So there you have it! Focus on fundamentals, tone production and technique and you will fly past your peers…even the one kid that shows off playing super high after band practice. The phrase “slow and steady wins the race” is actually true in trumpet world.

Trivia question: This famous lead trumpet player says “I never worked on high notes, I never did and I never will.” Know it? Leave your answer in the comments or come back next week for the blog post with the answer!

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8 thoughts on “Playing High Notes On The Trumpet: Reality Check”

  1. Oh, yes, that would definitely be Arturo Sandoval! He also said he didn’t believe in “pedal tones”! Why? He said they are just “low notes”! So funny. Love Sandoval. Awesome person.


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Download the THQ Warmup Guide to learn eye-opening tips and lessons that will take your playing to the next level.