How to practise for a beautiful sound ???

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Belcanto, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Belcanto

    Belcanto New Member

    Hi i am a young horn player who had just went onto the instrument after a few years away from playing and am looking advice on the best way to practise to achieve the best sound and range possible!?. At present I play an hour a day every day mainly at the minute doing long tones (12-16 beats) from low f# to upper g so basically 2 octaves then back down again.. Plus I do some slow lip flexibility work!! I use the book 'how brass players do it' by John Rigeon as well as the arban.. I would love to achieve a sound like my idol sandy smith and was wondering if what I'm doing will help to eventually get that??. Also some days the embouchure feels good other days it feels off and it gets very frustrating!! But I keep doing an hour a day!! Is this enough or should I do another hour in the evening?? Is putting in hours of practise a day how the likes of david childs, sheona White and sandy smith got so good??!
    Hope some guys on here can advise and help!??
    Many thanks
  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    The late Arnold Jacobs was an advocate of hearing the ideal sound first then emulating it. Here's a few hints'n'tips on video when he held masterclasses ...

    Arnold Jacobs - Song & Wind
  3. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    In the early 80's as a young horn player I upgraded from a regent to a round stamp horn.

    I hated it !..... it was like moving onto a tuba for me.

    3/4 years later I was starting to make a good sound.

    For me... it was all about developing the abdominal muscles required for sustaining the sound.

    The air -> Go's !!!! .... GONE.... very quickly with Horns, especially the large bore horns.
    This is probably why a lot of Horn players are often very quiet (in lower sections)

    Lip Flexibility exercises such as the Ridgedon ones wont help you develop tone on a horn... Lip flexibility YES Range YES...and for Cornet players will also help with tone.... but not for a Horn.

    Its even more about Air with a Horn. Larger mouthpieces (as with cornets) also aid with tone.

    Air Support !!! ....

    Try to actually 'sing' your phrases through the instrument. Not literally but with the way you use your air supply.. You can't do that with cornets without saturating the sound. With a Horn you can go all the way to 11 though... Provided you have control of that air !
    Really play from your guts at all times.
  4. 007ish

    007ish Member

  5. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Probably going to be a controversial comment, but - I find practicing Tuba with a (big) mute tends to encourage and strengthen breath control (as per Jon's comments). Interestingly I find that it also suppresses some of the harmonics giving a much purer tone, which makes it easier to judge the sound you are making. It also pleases the neighbours... Of course, in real life with no mute the harmonics will be retsored, changing the timbre back to normal, but I find practicing with the mute helps with breath control and the ability to produce a good solid tone.
    Anybody else got any views on that?

    Very Best, Chris Lee
    Newbieish EEflat Besson Sovereign
  6. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    If you want to imitate somebody else's voice or speak in another language, what do you have to do to achieve this goal? Sing long notes? Build you chest capacity? Open your layrnx? Both links to Steven Mead and Arnold Jacobs give more down to earth ideas relating to using phonetics to help vary the quality of sound. Howard Snell is another advocate of this approach.
  7. PFmaestro

    PFmaestro New Member

    I'm a horn player and something I have found to be useful is putting a practise mute in (silent brass mute or something similar) and playing notes below the stave as loud as possible! It will increase capacity of your lungs and make them think that whenever you play thats how much air you need! Have noticed a difference (after a while though) but there is a difference and my sound is now as big as it ever has been without having to change instruments, mouthpiece, anything really!
  8. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Rebecca, from your post you seem to have the basics covered! your chops will feel better some days than others, and yes more than an hour is good.

    have you had any lessons?
  9. pbirch

    pbirch Member

    One of the enemies of a beautiful sound is tension, the opposite of tension is, of course, relaxation. A good way to achieve this is to do some breathing exercises before playing, have a supported but not rigid posture ( you might try playing standing up, or sitting on a piano stool to get this) and make sure that your throat is relaxed to allow free movement of air in and out as you breathe, finally, try to make your mouth as big as possible behind your teeth, imagine it as the size of a tennis ball, say. This becomes something like a resonating chamber that is the starting point for a beautiful sound, but do remember it develops over time, good luck
  10. Valvespring

    Valvespring New Member

    Greg Spence at 'Mystery to Mastery' has some very interesting observations for all brass players all about sound production.
  11. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    All good advice above - however it's all very detailed - the mechanics of breathing and setting a good embouchure (using the muscles just enough, not too tight) are of course very important.

    I would emphasise the importance of practising long note exercises, as this is really where air support/control and embouchure focus can be maintained. The Remington warm-ups (as used by trombonists) or similar are a good start.
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Why not consider doing some voice training exercises?
  13. MicahParsons

    MicahParsons New Member

    Long Notes and Hymn Tune Playing i was always being told

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