Developing the Musical Upper Register
Developing musical range on a brass instrument is more than just playing higher notes. Range, like most other aspects of playing, is a technique. It must be thoughtfully cultivated and developed. For me, it’s about having the ability to practice and perform musical lines in the upper register in a non-destructive way. To do this, we need to become acclimated to hanging out in the upper part of the instrument and to do so in a way that improves our ability to navigate musical shapes and lines.
The technique of slotting or clicking partials can be one of the most effective methods for improving the upper register, and when done correctly, can be executed without an excess of strain or fatigue-induced mouthpiece pressure. To that end, we must divorce range from power and practice getting from one note to the next with the maximum amount of ease and grace and the minimum amount of movement and heartache.
I was first introduced to this concept by the great Dominic Spera, but I really didn’t understand it until years later when studying with Vincent DiMartino.