Help! The attack of the practise mute!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Trog's, Nov 12, 2004.

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  1. Trog's

    Trog's Member

    I have recently moved in to a new flat, due to this I have had to consider my new neighbours when practising, so I bought a Denis Wick practise mute to keep the noise down.

    However, since this I have noticed that I am more prone to split and mis-pitch notes in band rehearsal! This is getting rather worrying as I'm sat on Solo Horn, and members of the band are noticing.

    I don't believe my technique has deteriorated, and it hasn't been a problem before (I have sat on this seat for 4 years and not suffered it previously!) and I'm also doing as much practise as ever, if not more. (although, previous practise was un-muted!)

    Has anyone experienced this problem before? if so what do people recommend? Is there a way I can practise, and keep the noise down???
  2. Griffin

    Griffin Active Member

    Personally - I use a straight mute. I always have done & no ones complained (yet). I don't think it has affected my playing though.

    Have you tried the Yamaha Slient mute?
    Bit pricey, but could help - not having to force it as much...
  3. Robb

    Robb New Member

    I use a 'Don Maslet' practice mute (I think this is a more recent name for the 'Wallace Collection' mutes) and it's good. It's small, has less resistance than either Denis Wick or Yamaha mutes (a possible cause for the problems you've encountered as regards your playing), and was under 40 pounds if I remeber correctly. Unless you're desperate to have a St Pauls style echo (synthesised) in your ears, then don't bother with the silent brass system.
  4. Big Twigge

    Big Twigge Active Member

    I've got a practise mute....It makes my sound a bit funny, so I try and alternate, taking any opportunity when my housemates are out to practise without the mute. But moreoften than not. it's my only choice :(
  5. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I would second the "Don Maslet' practice mute as a good choice, however AFAIK they are only available for Bb Trumpet (Cornet), Trombone, and Tuba bells ( - poss. French Horns as well?)

    Maybe the trombone mute might fit a tenor horn bell ?

  6. buglegirl

    buglegirl New Member

    I would go for a bremner schhhhhhmute (i think a horn one has just been released. I have a denis wick, wallace collection and a schhhhmute. The last definatly giving the least resistance which is where your problems will be stemming from (the changes in resistance affecting pitch and production etc is a common problem. Try it. I think you can buy it on line at bremner or something like that
    x bg

    ps...try to do at least a little practice without the mute every day if possible , even if its just your warm up.......and quiet playing is great for you!
  7. mr_anon

    mr_anon Member

    Practice mutes destroy your playing. Don't use them or any other mutes to practice.
  8. skweeky

    skweeky Member

    i COMPLETELY disagree :shock:
    Resistance overload (practise mute) is an EXCELLENT way to improve your extended playing (stamina) and range. Pitching is all down to your inner ear and lip control. Try blowing really loud with the mute in so as to strenghten your lip and make your diaphragm used to resistance, when that resistance is taken away, i agree that it will be harder to pitch because considerabily less effort is needed to blow, but your sound will be supprisingly more solid and your ability to play the louder dynamics will be so easy. Its just a case of getting used to it. Perhaps a 10 minute lip flexibility warm up in the band room before rehearsal would do you good?
  9. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    In my humble opinion this could rank as one of the most misleading (in other words, wrong) posts written on this forum.

    Practice mutes can, when used effectively, be a very helpful part of a daily routine. I use them as part of my warm up routine. The added resistance helps establish my breathing, ready for the rest of the day.
    Practising with a practice mute (of any sort) is not a suitable permanent substitute for "open" practising, but it is better than no practising at all. I agree with the suggestion already made to try and fit in some practice without the mute if you can. On days when the options are either no practising, or practising with the mute - on behalf of your chops, choose the second option.

    My other main disagreement with the quoted statement is about using other mutes to practice - a player needs to learn how to play with mutes. If the only time one does this is in the bandroom or on the stand, you cannot be as comfortable playing when muted as when open. This should not be an option in a good musician's life. You need to be comfortable (and know all the intonation peculiarities) playing every mute and instrument you own. Some mutes will affect the tuning more than others. You need to know this before you put the mute in - if the first time you realise this is during a performance, you are in trouble.
  10. mr_anon

    mr_anon Member

    McD meals. Eating McD all the time, or even regularly, is damaging. Eating there once in a while won't kill you but the smart choice is not to eat there at all. This logic applies to practice mutes.
  11. Fergus

    Fergus Member

    I'm also a horn player and recently moved house. I'd recommend Yamaha Silent Brass - although around £100 I feel its been worth every penny. You get minimal resistance and it also gives you a true hearing of your output!!
  12. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    I'm going to disagree as well... The smart option with practice mutes is to use them sparingly. They ARE awesome for improving dynamic range and stamina. However, whole practice sessions with a practice mute in are not really beneficial. If all the practice you can get on a day is going to be practice muted I would limit it to lip flexibilties, and a few long low blasts. Is there anywhere nearby where you could use a room? Band rooms, band mates houses, university music facilities could all be possibles...
  13. mr_anon

    mr_anon Member

    It's worth every penny, I mean you can choose the concert hall or church option, put the reverb full on, and sound like you always wanted to!
  14. Fergus

    Fergus Member

    Ouch !! No need to be facetious. Whilst in your opinion it may not be an ideal tool for practising, for those of us who have no alternative to practising with a mute it is a saviour. Without such inventions many of us I'm sure would have given up brass banding long before now. And whilst in an ideal world we could all practise with out mutes the reality is that its not always possible therefore alternatives are necessary.
  15. mike mclean

    mike mclean New Member

    I make mutes for all brass instruments. check out my website and feel free to contact me for any information.


    TIMBONE Active Member

    I have used both the Dennis Wick practice mute, and eventually the Yamaha Silent Brass.

    Use of a practice mute can be very good for breath control.

    If you are finding embouchure flexibility/security suffering, the most likely cause is a tendency to overblow with a practice mute. Knowing this should deal with the problem, (ie, make sure you don't overblow when practicing).

    I now use Yamaha Silent Brass, (often just as a mute and nothing else). It is excellent.

    If you are playing unmuted at least twice a week, (band), then practicing with a mute is no problem, and can even be beneficial).
  17. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    I use a practice mute all the time (for home practice, that is).

    I used to use the Yamaha Silent Brass. However, when I joined Flixton Band it was obvious that the band had a bigger sound than the bands I had been used to playing with, and that my sound was relatively thin and weedy, and needed beefing up. So, I reverted to using a Dennis Wick practice mute to help me to get a bigger sound.
    It seems to have worked, and using the practice mute doesn't seem to have caused me any other problems.
  18. Incognito

    Incognito Member

    I am very surprised you are having problems spliting notes after having used the practice mute.
    Are you perhaps overblowing?

    I use mine a lot as a way of trainging th muscles at the back of my throat to stay open (the extra resistance helps).
    In fact since I started doing this years ago i ahev stopped snoring.
    I do about 10 minutes a day on the practice mute before doing my normal practicing.

    I find it has also given me more control in the mid register.

    My son overblows when he uses it and he seems to do the not splitting hting in the few minutes afterwards.
    Might be worth playing and then remove the mute as you are playing to see how loud you actually are.
  19. wally

    wally Member

    yeah i have to agree with other folk's responses to this statement. its utter cobblers!
  20. mr_anon

    mr_anon Member

    most people on this forum can't do better than lower section banding, so I'd take their expert advice with a pinch of salt
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