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Thread: Problems Playing High G (concert pitch).

  1. #1

    Problems Playing High G (concert pitch).

    I recently returned to playing after a 30+ yr break. Things are progressing well but I'm still having problems playing high concert G, treble clef A. I have no issues with the notes above or below. Using 3rd valve instead of 1 and 2 doesn't help.
    I don't remember having this issue in the past but as it's so long ago I may have just forgotten.

    Is it usual for this note to be awkward to pitch? I can hit it sometimes but it's so random.

    Any views appreciated.

  2. #2
    In short, yes! Many folks have complained about that note, but I'm not sure how much the horn(s) can be blamed and how much is has to do with practice.

    First step: get out your tuner and see where the pitch is when you don't adjust. Close your eyes and play the note a few times. Find the most comfortable "spot" in your head/chops to play it. Then see where it is on the tuner. With 12 it should be sharp. Pull the 1st slide a bit and try again. Repeat the process until you find the slide setting that gets it in tune. Then play a concert middle Bb followed by the G. Does that make it easier? If so, then you need to practice adjusting the pitch without using a non-practical setting for your 1st slide. But if it was comfortable with the pulled slide, you know the horn itself is fine. The 12 fingering is normally a little sharp on a G. The middle G will be as well. On most 4-valve compensating horns the 3rd valve can be used pretty well, but it might seem a bit flat.

    If that exercise doesn't help, are your Gb and Ab on either side of the G more comfortable? If so, your horn may have a stuffy node on the G, but usually practice can overcome it. This is especially true if the Gb and Ab and a bit wonky too. It's surprising how doubling your practice time on a particular issue can yield results.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. #3
    Something else that may be helpful is to find a few tunes that you know, or at least know the melody to. And that have the concert G above the staff in them. You know what they should sound like in your head. This ends up allowing you to see the note, know what it should sound like, and then use muscle and brain memory to hit the note.

    I personally most often use my memory (brain and muscle) to hit high G's based on how I remember the sound and feel of the concert G in the very well known euphonium solo in the 2nd Suite in F by Holst.

    And another tip is to play a scale from the concert G in the staff up to the higher concert G. Up and down several times. Then try doing arpeggios from the same concert G up to the higher one. Then do arpeggios again, but this time leave out the 3rd (B natural), just the root, 5th and octave. Then do octave jumps from the low G to high G. I just always play up to and around and then jump around when I want to get notes to play and sound reliably. Finally, try playing the high G, then the low G, then the high G, and then a low A, then the high G, then a low B natural (in other words, play the high G and alternate with the notes of the G concert scale, do this up and down the scale).
    Last edited by John Morgan; 08-24-2018 at 09:59 AM.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  4. #4
    Thank you for the advice so far.

    Dave, it's not an issue with the tuning. If I hit the note then it's pretty much in tune. My problem is that the note itself is hard to hit.

    John, I do practice arpeggios and octave jumps to try and help and can hit the note about 50% of the time which I find frustrating. All notes either side are not an issue at all. My bands currently on its summer break but when back I'll try one of their euphoniums to see if it's me or my own euphonium which is adding to the issue.
    Last edited by DEF1; 08-24-2018 at 10:59 AM.

  5. #5
    From Rich Matteson, who never had range problems....

    Exercise that worked for me from him:
    1. Start in a range that is secure, for example, start with D.
    2. Play a relaxed D major scale (starting with D in the staff) up to C# (above the staff), like half notes at mm 120. Play a mezzoforte ish, not too loud.
    3. Play that partial scale several times.
    4. Then play that partial scale and continue on to the D, but DOUBLE the air you're putting through the horn. Like FF. You might change your vowel from "oh" or "ah" to "eee". Do that again.
    5. Rest.
    6. Do the same thing up a half-step, now on an Eb major scale up to D. Repeat the same pattern, remembering to double the air when you get to the high note.

    This combined with singing and mouthpiece buzzing might help strengthen your chops and ears and you can overcome that note on your horn. Work your way up to G, and on and on. When your Bb and C are strong, the G will be a breeze. Someday when it's in your ear and muscles, G'll be like the other notes. Many horns have a wonky note. I had a King 3B trombone with a weird uncentered D in the staff. Talk about a bad place for a bad note!

    From Rich Matteson and John Allred,
    here's some inspiration:
    Last edited by BrassedOn; 08-24-2018 at 12:49 PM.

  6. #6
    Thanks BrassedOn. I'll give it a go.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Smoketown, Pa
    I agree with John Morgan. Even singing the note before playing may be a help. I know I tend loose concentration (there is a medical reason for this) and often times play the wrong note with the correct fingering. When my son took cello lessons, his teacher had him sing some of the harder parts. It has worked well when I taught as well when the student cooperated.
    B&S 3046 Baritone/Euphonium
    B&S PT33-S Euphonium
    B&S PT37-S
    Schilke ST20 Tenor Trombone

  8. Can you buzz that pitch clearly on the mouthpiece? Pay close attention to the start of the pitch when buzzing. You may be scooping into the pitch from below or above. This will translate into a cracked note on the horn.

  9. #9
    Problem solved!

    Thanks for all the replies but it was my euphonium causing the problem after all. It had a very small leak from the main slide water valve, the cork wasn't seating 100%. I fitted a new cork and now all seems well.

    Strange that it was only really affecting high G but it's definitely better now.

  10. #10
    Further update:

    After changing the cork me Euph did seem better but still not perfect. Tonight at band I tried a Besson Sovereign and was able to hit the note every time. This says something is still wrong with my own Euph, any ideas what it could be??

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