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KT's Corner #3

Stuck on High G?

Use a practice mute to add new notes

If your high register has hit a “wall” after trying different practice approaches and equipment changes, a practice mute just may come to the rescue.

That wall is that point at the peak of your range where the buzz stops — either the air can no longer pass through (lips are sealed), or the chops can’t sustain and control a smaller aperture (airball). Use of a practice mute can help in both of these areas. With a practice mute, there is no point in striving for a “big” sound or projection. Concentrate solely on shrinking the aperture and keeping the buzz going.

Try this simple approach:

  1. Ascend chromatically. Because of the extra resistance and emphasis on a smaller aperture rather than volume and projection, it is very likely that you will advance past the point where you would fail on the open horn.

  1. Use this opportunity to sustain this new note! Hold it for several counts, many times in a row. You are now training your chops to control a smaller aperture which was not attainable using other methods.

The benefits gained will lay the groundwork for further development on the open horn. Obviously, when performing you will want to play loudly. Highly compressed air is required. Just as the mute helped you to incrementally strengthen your embouchure, it can do the same for your chest, back and abdominal muscles if you increase the volume daily while still using the mute.

This “walk before you run” approach may be the missing link in helping you climb past your wall — no matter what note that is!