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Discussion Starter #1
Hello and thank you for taking the time to reading this. I';m a senior at my local high school and most of my directors have said that I should start trying to play in the altissimo range. I';ve tried countless times, strengthened my embouchre quite a bit, but nothing still. Are there any exercises you';d suggest to finally get to altissimo? The highest I';m able to play without any issues is high F#.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just a follow-up, I was reading somewhere that mouthpiece pads can affect what and how overtones come out. Is that true? Or can I keep using my D’Addario Reserves or do I have to switch to thinner ones like Vandorens?
 

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Its all about your throat and oral cavity. My alt has gotten much better over the last few monthes but its because I spend at least 5 to 10 minutes a day on over tones. /harmonics So from your low Bb you might want to play up to the 4th harmonic (D) if you can and do some long harmonics with tone matching on B, C and C# also. I think In college I did some kind of biting to get up there since my idiot teacher didn't do overtone work with me, my upper range was poor. Also the stronger you can make your fork fingering high F and E the more likely you will be to get overtones. Maybe take some lessons? K
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Its all about your throat and oral cavity. My alt has gotten much better over the last few monthes but its because I spend at least 5 to 10 minutes a day on over tones. /harmonics So from your low Bb you might want to play up to the 4th harmonic (D) if you can and do some long harmonics with tone matching on B, C and C# also. I think In college I did some kind of biting to get up there since my idiot teacher didn't do overtone work with me, my upper range was poor. Also the stronger you can make your fork fingering high F and E the more likely you will be to get overtones. Maybe take some lessons? K
Thank you for the advice! I’ve been trying to get into lessons for a while now, but at the moment I don’t have the time much less the money.
 

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Try this, start with altissimo A as it is often times the easiest note to get out. You don't mention alto or tenor, so I'm assuming tenor. I use this fingering:

oxx | oxx

SING the note out loud and notice where your throat, tongue, and roof of your mouth are to hit that note. HOLD that position and play the note on the horn. DO NOT bite to get it.

This is called "voicing" and it should hopefully illustrate what is necessary to start playing in the altissimo register.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I was in the same situation, desperate to play altissimo. What I'm about to tell you is very wrong and very naughty, but it worked for me.

I fingered ak altissimo note, e.g. A as buddy Lee suggested. (possibly just LH needed oxxx |ooo ) then I played the note with my lower teeth on the reed.

Bingo! instant squeak altissimo.

But you must not ever make this a habit, the usefulness is that if it works, you get the sound of that note in your head and find that it is much is to play after that without the naughty tooth on reed thing. being able to "hear" the note in your head is a crucial part of voicing the note.

Obviously you should continue with overtones, it's useful to get beyond the 2nd overtone though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Try this, start with altissimo A as it is often times the easiest note to get out. You don't mention alto or tenor, so I'm assuming tenor. I use this fingering:

oxx | oxx

SING the note out loud and notice where your throat, tongue, and roof of your mouth are to hit that note. HOLD that position and play the note on the horn. DO NOT bite to get it.

This is called "voicing" and it should hopefully illustrate what is necessary to start playing in the altissimo register.
I’m playing alto at the moment but I switch around a lot. Oddly enough I could get a few altissimo on my tenor but not on alto.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was in the same situation, desperate to play altissimo. What I'm about to tell you is very wrong and very naughty, but it worked for me.

I fingered ak altissimo note, e.g. A as buddy Lee suggested. (possibly just LH needed oxxx |ooo ) then I played the note with my lower teeth on the reed.


Bingo! instant squeak altissimo.

But you must not ever make this a habit, the usefulness is that if it works, you get the sound of that note in your head and find that it is much is to play after that without the naughty tooth on reed thing. being able to "hear" the note in your head is a crucial part of voicing the note.

Obviously you should continue with overtones, it's useful to get beyond the 2nd overtone though.
Yeah when I play with my teeth on the reed I get a super loud squeak, but I didn’t know I could play altissimo with that. Are there any fingering you suggest?
 

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Yeah when I play with my teeth on the reed I get a super loud squeak, but I didn’t know I could play altissimo with that.
That loud squeak is altissimo! But it would be in the category "out of control altissimo." I think what Pete is saying is it will give you the general feel of playing an altissimo note, but you then need to learn to do it without putting your teeth on the reed. Teeth on the reed is in the realm of fingernails scratching on the blackboard (do they use blackboards in school anymore??).

Playing overtones on the low notes will help train you to voice those altissimo notes properly. Another "gateway" is to work on playing high E and F using the front F key (instead of the palm keys).

I'm a bit puzzled that your directors are telling you that you should start playing altissimo. It could be they are satisfied that you have progressed well and get a good sound in the normal range. If that's so, then yeah go for it, but keep in mind that altissimo is best used sparingly; it's a spice (sort of like tabassco sauce). I agree that altissimo A is one of the easiest (aside from F# which you say you have now) and a good one to start with. For me it speaks best with the fingering:

OXX/XXX (+ octave key)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah when I play with my teeth on the reed I get a super loud squeak, but I didn';t know I could play altissimo with that.
That loud squeak is altissimo! But it would be in the category "out of control altissimo." I think what Pete is saying is it will give you the general feel of playing an altissimo note, but you then need to learn to do it without putting your teeth on the reed. Teeth on the reed is in the realm of fingernails scratching on the blackboard (do they use blackboards in school anymore??).

Playing overtones on the low notes will help train you to voice those altissimo notes properly. Another "gateway" is to work on playing high E and F using the front F key (instead of the palm keys).

I'm a bit puzzled that your directors are telling you that you should start playing altissimo. It could be they are satisfied that you have progressed well and get a good sound in the normal range. If that's so, then yeah go for it, but keep in mind that altissimo is best used sparingly; it's a spice (sort of like tabassco sauce). I agree that altissimo A is one of the easiest (aside from F# which you say you have now) and a good one to start with. For me it speaks best with the fingering:

OXX/XXX (+ octave key)
Yeah, I try my best to use my front E and F, but for some reason, I can get F to come out but not E. I could with the tenor I was using, but not alto. Could it be the horn I';m playing on? (I';m playing a mendini by Cecilio alto, not the highest quality but the only one I could afford)

If you want, I can record a video of me playing my chromatic from low Bb to my high F# and you can give me your opinion if you think I should or not.
 

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The highest I';m able to play without any issues is high F#.
With an F# key or without it?

Try this. First off, you have to blow differently for altissimo notes. No fingering in the world is going to help you unless you squeeze the airflow a bit by raising the back of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth as you blow. Just try this sitting where you're sitting. Pretend you're blowing a note and then slowly raise the back of your tongue up towards the roof of your mouth. You should get a sort of whistling affect by doing this. Now you're ready for the horn.

Use your octave key, front F, right hand 1 (F) and side Bb. Squeeze off the airflow and see if you can get F#3 this way. When you can do this, let go of right hand 1 (F) and voice it up to G. Add the side C and voice it up to G#. Then for A, I'd go with octave, left hand 2&3, right hand 1,2&3 (OXX-XXX).

Once you get the notes, then ya gotta work on making them sound good.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The highest I';m able to play without any issues is high F#.
With an F# key or without it?

Try this. First off, you have to blow differently for altissimo notes. No fingering in the world is going to help you unless you squeeze the airflow a bit by raising the back of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth as you blow. Just try this sitting where you're sitting. Pretend you're blowing a note and then slowly raise the back of your tongue up towards the roof of your mouth. You should get a sort of whistling affect by doing this. Now you're ready for the horn.

Use your octave key, front F, right hand 1 (F) and side Bb. Squeeze off the airflow and see if you can get F#3 this way. When you can do this, let go of right hand 1 (F) and voice it up to G. Add the side C and voice it up to G#. Then for A, I'd go with octave, left hand 2&3, right hand 1,2&3 (OXX-XXX).

Once you get the notes, then ya gotta work on making them sound good.
I can play it with or without. I just have a little trouble getting my front E out for whatever reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Okay, so after switching back to cane reeds I’ve been having an easier time playing the high notes. But for some reason, I can’t get my front E to come out but I can get my front F to come out without any problem. It’s definitely not my mouthpiece because it’s pretty much brand new still, could it be my horn?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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It’s definitely not my mouthpiece because it’s pretty much brand new still, could it be my horn?
A mouthpiece being brand new doesn't preclude it from being the issue, however I would tend to think it is mostly the horn, maybe key heights or other aspects of the setup.
 
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