Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 01:34:35 -0500
From: Eddie Lewis <>
Subject: Re: Practising to improve range.

Tom Keleher wrote:
> Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that if you never
> practice notes out of your current range, you will never develop any notes
> that are outside of that range.

That is how many people feel. I'm the odd ball here. EVERY range method I ever read focused on reaching for notes outside of your range. Until I discovered my "different" approach, I too believed it.

Not only that, I'm not saying that doing range exercises doesn't work. What I'm saying is that my way works BETTER!!!! (at least for me and my students that is)

> If I want to increase my range one note
> (say from C to D) over a period of time, how will I ever learn to play the
> D if I only play up to a C and stop?

There's the first problem.......the word "ONLY". You don't ONLY play up to C. No! You play EVERYTHING up to C. Your long tones must go up to C. Your lip slurs should go up to C. Your scales should go up to C. Your etudes should go up to C. Your articulation studies should go up to C. Everything you do, everything you practice, should utilize that range up to C (and also of course, down to F sharp and below).

If you practice in this way for six months or so, there will be a day when C just feels way too easy. Then it's time to move on (I move on to E after high C).

But the concept here is developing strength within the range you already have. Then, when you achieve that strength, a greater range comes with it. But it's a different kind of range. It feels different. It feels more secure, more natural.

> I believe that one must try for the
> notes that out of your current range in order to build the strength and
> control to play them.

And I believe you don't. :-)

One important thing I should mention here, just so you don't think I'm a   total dreamer.....
this approach has been working for me and my students for about ten years. We can debate it until we're old men, but that won't change the fact that it works.

> Logic tells me that if I want to play a note (any note), I have to
> practice it, strengthening my system along the way.  Weight lifters don't
> lift 50 lbs over and over again and just hope that someday they will lift
> 200 lbs without ever increasing the weight in training.  They work up to
> it and even go beyond to make 200 lbs an easy lift eventually.

Your analogy doesn't work. My approach is more like lifting 50 lbs until it's too easy, then adding five pounds. Outwardly, it seems like the same thing......working your way, gradually. But the difference is in where the challenge sits. By constantly practicing notes outside of your range, you get used to those notes feeling and playing differently....when they shouldn't. Doing it my way is slower, takes longer, but instead of developing an "upper register", you're expanding the lower register to include a broader range.

This has several positive effects. It increases endurance....if the notes you're playing don't seem high to you, then you don't get as tired playing them. It improves your accuracy. It improves your sound....flexibility, technique....and dozens of other things.

In my opinion, this is THE BEST way to work on range. Ironically, the approach itself has very little to do with actually working on range.

- --
Eddie "Tiger" Lewis
Houston, TX