Help with an essay

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by memnoch2487, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. memnoch2487

    memnoch2487 New Member

    Happy Christmas and New year everyone,
    I’m studying for a master’s degree at Salford University (in musical performance) and as part of one of my 1st assignments I’m trying to gather information on individuals’ playing/performing habits, mainly the bad ones, although the indvidual may find it a good one!

    Example 1: a euphonium player who uses more vibrato than he should to hide the tuning problems in a particular register
    Why does he use vibrato to hide the tuning problems does it make him feel better, the problem is still there why not try and correct it.

    Example 2: a clarinettist who lets air escape from the side of his mouthpiece (noisily) as he’s playing.
    Why does he let this happen, is it poor technique or down to being nervous.

    If you know any players that have any bad habits or are prepared to admit your own, could you please tell me about them (names not required) just the instrument they play and the level they play at, and why you think they have them (nerves, poor techniques etc) and also any ideas you would have on helping them correct the “habit”.
    many thanks for your help and time.
  2. memnoch2487

    memnoch2487 New Member

  3. TopTrump

    TopTrump Member

    There's a guy in a band in Cymmer in the Rhondda, S Wales who despite being a millionaire still refuses to pay for expert tuition in turning off his auto-aircon which keeps the band cool in the summer months. If you're unlucky he may even flob on you by accident!:biggrin:
  4. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    I just have a few observations which I hope will open some new avenues of thinking for you.

    a) Do all players play with an ideal technique?

    The mouthpiece placed exactly on the centre of the embouchure. In reality few people have the perfect embouchure and whatever works for one individual may not for the next. Players have different levels of skill (as a technique) dependent on the amount of time and practice that they do books like Arban.

    b) Do some players want an ideal technique?

    If you play for fun i.e socially, do they pick their instrument up and think about their lack of technique or their playing to one side of the mouth or the other. I doubt it. However, I may suggest that playing to higher and higher degrees of intesity and thereafter the highest of these being the Championship Section national contests, do require or are expected to have a competence and a high level of skill. But....again....if a player has an embouchure that sees the mouthpiece come out of the side of the mouth, yet be able to double tongue faster than someone with an almost perfect embouchure would that player worry?? I think it comes down to the ambition or motivation of the player in question. In university the lecturer tries to teach you to play with a good technique because it is their job. But a retired gentleman may only want to play once a week and enjoy the company. I have a pupil who has taught himself for 6 months and has a poor embouchure but he just wants to play his instrument in the house and not with any other players (in a group or band). He just wants to play tunes from shows and has stated that he is not interested in being technically perfect. Whilst he can play higher register notes on the horn he has problems with lower register notes, therefore I have told him to practice pedal notes and relax his embouchure, and think of an "ooh" kind of sound (thus making a larger hole in the mouth and dropping the jaw slightly). Might not be text book advice but it works for him. I think players should try and solve their own problems in anyway they can and then adjust anything prohibitive over time.

    c) Just how do "we" define good and bad technique?

    One person's good technique may not be for the next. Text books and teachers suggest how to play and what the perfect or ideal techniques are, however these are the opinions on how "they" have achieved their playing standards. I think having guides to playing are good but they are not the b-all or end-all of performance. In many ways some players may have developed to higher standards if they were not told "in Arban" or "in How Brass Players do it" this is how you do it and that it should be exactly like that.

    It's horses for courses at the end of the day.
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    The most common fault in individual players I come across is ignorance of personal intonation or tuning problems when playing in a band. The type of player who does not accept that he/she plays regularly out of tune despite evidence to the contrary. You can instruct that individual to listen at that moment to pull notes in tune with others (or with a tuner as most MDs seem to do nowadays) but the player always slips back to his/her intonation/tuning defaults. This sort of habit is a difficult one to correct in my opinion. To a lesser degree, players who don't seem to subdivide to learn more complex rhythms but play by ear (and by rote methods) can be a handful too! :-?
  6. goosie baby

    goosie baby Member

    i find that in bands certain individuals have a annoying habit of cutting notes short, and would be hung, drawn, and quartered for saying so. but i find it really annoying. also i find that players who sit near me have a reading problem, they can't seem to read a key signature. that really gets to me cos surely that is the basic music lesson stuff? and players who accidentally on purpose forget their music. ughhh. guess i could go on for hours but might not live to see the next rehersal if i continue. but its only the type of thing i would say to my band m8s anyway so who cares?
  7. goosie baby

    goosie baby Member

    hope your essay goes ok and i think it would be nice for those who contributed to know how it went!:clap:
  8. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I think Richard has nailed the important points here. I'm sure we could all point to people we've encountered who have "issues" with their technique, but frankly if you sat next to Dizzie Gillespie with ear defenders on you'd think he was the worst player in the world, based solely on what you could see of his technique :eek: . It's what comes out of the end that matters. I also think players at the higher levels of banding (and in the colleges) can sometimes forget that many people are in lower section banding for a laugh, and a few beers, and don't really care if they're not the greatest player in the world.

    My biggest playing bad habit (as far as I know) seems to be an obsession with water - I get a lot of water buildup when I'm playing (maybe down to poor technique:D ) and have developed the habit of emptying the water keys in every rest. However, unlike some, I try to empty my water out quietly! - I have heard many resting players ruin a quiet passage in a piece by blowing water out and waggling valves, while creating a noise like the Flying Scotsman releasing steam pressure :rolleyes:
  9. Lawrencediana

    Lawrencediana Member

    I think that all players of all abilities have ways of hiding problems,both technically and musically. I think if a player knows they have a problem and the MD doesn't solve it then the player uses his or her inntiative to get over their perceived problem. Using an extra wide or exaggerated vibrato to hide tuning problems is quite clever.;)
  10. robcav

    robcav Member

    For me there are three key areas which, in my experience, seem to separate the good and great performers from the average.
    1. Breathing efficiency, breath control and preparatory breathing prior to note production. Problems here will affect dynamics, intonation, note production and phrasing. (I know this only too well)
    2. Concentration. After a hard day's work I go to band and hope that what little technique I have will get me through. I like to think that I have good concentration skills but I know that when I am mentally tired I don't play as well - I don't breath as well as I should, don't read as well as I should and don't prepare production as well as I should. I suspect that home practice and routine performance of the basics is what's at stake here. To make the basics almost instinctive would probably go some way to counteracting the adverse effects of lapsed concentration.
    3. Style. Some elements of sound quality are beyond our individual control because they are related the the physical arrangement of our chops. However, playing in an appropriate style should be within the capabilities of most players if they have taken the trouble to listen to music (and I hasten to add, not just brass band music). Few of us, myself included, will have had the good fortune to have had a formal musical education at a higher level but I do believe that a precursor to attaining technical efficiency is the ability to know not only how, but when to implement the techniques within a musical context. Some players I have encountered are either only interested in brass band music or are not really interested in listening critically to any music. I think such musical myopia and lethargy is detrimental to the technical development of players because it prevents them from asking and seeking answers to such questions as "How did he produce that effect?", "Why was the musical line phrased in that way?", "Why was that style of note production appropriate?" and most importantly of all "How and when can I emulate this in my own performances.

    Best of luck with the Masters.
  11. Scongie

    Scongie Member

    My mouth piece does not sit centrally on my chops and unfortunately I didn't notice this until I'd been playing for about 8 years. On noticing I tried to correct it but after trying for a few months I just couldn't get comfortable and I didn't notice any benifits in terms of sound, production or intonation so went back to old habits.

    Somethin else I noticed recently watching the eisteddfod on the tele was that I don't sit up straight, bit of a tendency to hunch forward. can't help my breathing so I am trying to remember to sit more upright but when the pressure is on there's too many other things to think about!

    for me the worst bad habit of brass players is not warming up properly just lazy if you ask me.
  12. memnoch2487

    memnoch2487 New Member

    Thank you

    If I can give all that contributed a big thankyou, I passed the assignment with flying colours, if any of you would like a copy (its in the form of a power point presentation) just email me and ask (

    thanks again