Brass Tips

Brass Practice Tips


1. (at least 5-10 min)

Begin by buzzing your mouthpiece in a relaxed manner. Work for a solid buzz sound. Buzz middle range notes, low notes, and then high notes. Then buzz to sound like a siren up and down, slow and steady. Make sure that as you buzz up and down the quality of pitch stays even the entire time. The buzz on a brass mouthpiece is where the pitch is created. If this is working well, your sound will be huge!

2. (at least 5-10 min)

Put the instrument together and play one note in the middle range of the instrument. Play long tones (one pitch as long as you can) trying to keep the quality of the sound even throughout. Then move to lower notes and finally higher notes. The consistency of sound will train the muscles used in forming the embouchure to form most consistently.

3. (at least 5-10 min)

Now that the embouchure is warmed up, play some music in this time that you already know to get the fingers moving. Keep working to sound as good as you can. Go back and buzz parts if you are still having problems. Short songs, etudes, chorales, scales or parts of scales, etc. may be used. This step allows the fingers and embouchure to work together.

4. Next go to the music you would like to practice.

  •  If you are missing pitches sing the music (a keyboard can help) then buzz it.
  •  If the fingers are not going down right for the notes then practice just the fingerings slow to fast keeping a consistent rhythmic accuracy. A metronome can help with this step.
  •  If you can not play it up to speed, start slow and steadily work it up to tempo… always counting and keeping the beat in your head.
  • If you are playing the right notes but the wrong rhythm go back and make sure that you can count it slow. After that, finger and count it slow (speeding up each time you try it again). Finally go slow to fast playing it.
  • The notes are produced by the embouchure and fingerings. If the problems can be isolated and fixed slow to fast one at a time it will help greatly. For example, if rhythm is a problem, why throw in the fact that pitches are a problem as well? Divide and Conquer.

 

5. You can then warm down when done again using long tones and such.

A Few general Practice Rules:

  •  Never rush or skip a practice step. Good practice habits are important to becoming a good player.
  •  Tape record yourself and listen to how you play. You may be amazed at the difference.
  •  Practice regularly… 3 hours in one day is not nearly as effective as one half hour every night for 6 days.
  •  Do not try to tackle too much! Work a little bit at a time and get it PERFECT! Do not accept mistakes in   the final result.
  •  Have fun and enjoy becoming a better musician!