Note Production

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by brownrob, Jul 9, 2008.

  1. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Need a few tips on note production. I have a very nice tone but one thing that really irks me is the initial note production. Id like it to be more uniform! Sometimes it isnt clean, sometimes it is airy and sometimes its perfect! Ive sort of been teaching myself this last while, listening to a lot of Peter Roberts and trying to emulate his sound

    Some things that I think may be causing the problem...

    • Do I need to put the mouthpiece on my lip the exact same way everytime? I notice your man Ian Williams from Cory puts the cornet on his mouth by the same method every time, it almost looks like he is screwing it on!:biggrin: I do usually give myself plenty of time (4 beats) to get the mouthpiece comfortable on the lip
    • How much tounge is required to produce the note, if any? Im not sure if the airyness is caused by an incorrectly supported air column. Ive thought about not using the tongue at all and using the epiglottis (sp?) to initiate and cease the air flow? does the position of the tongue matter? Currently it rests midway between the roof of my mouth and the teeth, you know that lump just behind the teeth! ;)
    • I think it could also be a confidence/psychological issue. Im extremely aware of it, though its not that apparrent to other people, Im a perfectionist with regard to my playing!
    On an unrelated note Im trying to extend my range to a comfortable E above the stave (on Sop), so whats the best way to go at that? Beat on at the Colin Lip flexibilities till Im knackered. BTW whats an acceptable range on a Soprano? I know Procession to the Minster has a top D

    Any help or advice would be appreciated!
  2. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Some answers to your questions from someone that went through many tonguing issues and came out the other side to play for a living.

    1. You should try to put the mouthpiece in the same place everytime. Don't get too hung up though - just make sure to check it every now and again in the mirror. Feel will be your main guide here.
    2. The tongue is not needed to produce a note. Try simply blowing air through your embouchure and through the instrument and you will find the note starts itself (many pros in the major symphony orchestras use this method to get a soft start to quiet notes). The tongue is needed when you want to add a particular finish to the front of the note. You might want to point it or soften the note - here's where the tongue comes in. As for position I would guard against putting it against the teeth - rather preferring to put it on the roof of the mouth where the top teeth meet the palate. If you have teeth with gaps between putting the tongue on the teeth will mean that air escapes from these gaps. Having the tongue on the roof just behind the top teeth ensures a good seal and no air escaping. Some trumpet players might beg to differ here - but it has to be remembered they use a far more pointed attack than is used on low brass/brass band.
    3. Could be - make sure you include relaxation as part of your playing. Set yourself a challenge - 10 clean attacks in a row. If you make a mistake you need to start again. As you get nearer 10 the pressure will build - try to keep relaxed. If 10 is easy try a 100!

    Hope this helps.
  3. johnsop

    johnsop Member


    To answer some of your questions, from one Soprano player to another (lol).

    Mouthpiece placement: go with whatever feels comfortable for you

    The Tongue: try not to think about it too much, just go with what feels most comfortable for you! The key is to relax, breathe well and deep before starting a note and keep a continuous, supported airstream. This exercise is a good one that you can use, that I like (use a metronome):
    This will also help with the "psychological" issue because it makes you relax as well. Also, you could use this video as an example routine you could follow:

    I also agree with Mike Saville's comments about tongue placement.

    Hope this helps
  4. johnsop

    johnsop Member

    P.S. Range: there is a top E-flat in 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' (Peter Graham) and a top E in 'Les Preludes' (Liszt arr. Bram Gay). So if you can play comfortably up to and above there, your range is doing well. I think top D is a good benchmark though, as long as you can hit it consistently, in-tune and at a range of dynamics
  5. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    I'd be careful here - the ultimate goal is to feel comfortable yes, however in the meantime if you are trying a slightly different mouthpiece placement or tongue position it may not feel so comfortable - this doesn't mean it is wrong. As always an experienced teacher would be best placed to help - even if you take only 1 or 2 lessons with them.

    Relaxing/airstream both good points :)
  6. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Hmmm some interesting points there, Ill have to experiment a bit :D
  7. wkt

    wkt Member

    Hi. You should try to get along to the Armagh Summer School, week beginning 4th August. You will get lots of help from some of the Fodens players who will be tutoring during the week. If you cannot attend the whole week, feel free to drop in for part of it. Let me know if your band doesn't receive the timetable.

  8. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Heheh I might be a bit too old for that mate!!! :D

    Wouldnt mind getting the timetable though, some of the kids may be interested in it!

  9. ericthered

    ericthered Member

    What is interesting is that a few years ago nobody worried about mouthpiece placement or production in the UK brass band scene. We all went with the "what is comfortable for you" approach.

    However, since the mining bands have gone and the younger players are coming from other avenues and progressing into the conservatoires this has changed. The symphonic approach of brass band playing is coming to the fore. Basically, not too loud and not too quiet but everthing in it's place. An approach that I find dull, boring and tedious.

    Basically, the only bands that can play a traditional sound are the top Yorkshire bands (Grimey, Brighouse etc) and that's only because as Yorkshiremen they refuse to change and rightly so.

    Ideally, the mouthpiece should be placed in teh centre of the mouth, 50/50. Why? Equal use. I play with 3/4 of the mouthpiece on my top lip and as such 75% of the work comes from my top lip. Obviously if you go 50/50 you increase your stamina as you don't get as tired as quick but also as your lips work less...less does more. Your range will increase and theoretically you'll get a better sound.

    BUT not everyone's mouths are the same. We may all not look all have teeth like Catherine Jenkins which are pearly white, straight and basically flawless. Putting your mouthpiece on 50/50 may be really uncomfortable and even painful. So do what is best for you but go for as close to 50/50 as you can manage.

    Production wise, you need to practice your articulation and do some note centering exercises. Mainly, Arban or possibly some scales. Get a metronome and set it to 60 bpm. Play each note with as clearer articulation as possible. If you get a poor articulation start again. Keep that going you'll be getting closer to the mark. Don't be over critical on yourself. Also, if possible record your attempts. Sometimes your mind plays tricks and what you hear may not actually be what you are actually playing.
  10. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Hmmm... well the only recording I will have of myself is off the CD which will be released on Saturday! So I guess I could upload a bit of it to get some feedback?! Its "Let me try again"

    Its really the initial note I havent total control over, i find If I keep the mouthpiece stuck to my gob I can hit notes perfectly after!
  11. wkt

    wkt Member

    There is no upper age on it! There are a few of us regulars who are over 50, and some well beyond. We still keep learning, (I just don't retain it as long as I used to) ;)
  12. ericthered

    ericthered Member

    Simple, place mouthpiece on lips, play note, take mouthpiece off. Pause. Place mouthpiece on lips, play note, take mouthpiece off. Pause. Place mouthpiece on lips, play note, take mouthpiece off. Each action is beat at 60 bpm. Use a DU articulation, correct posture and relax.

    Don't do it for too long or the men in white coats may come knocking on your door.
  13. Wes!!! Hope your lot are doing well... Mouthpiece placement... Just screw it on and blow! You'd be surprised how many very good players do that and it works! lol. Seriously, EVERYTHING in playing should be about breathing... I found that out about 5-6 years ago when my embachure collapsed (I was at college/playing professionally/playing with a very good band). But if the whole embachure then keep comfortable and treat it like a penalty kick (kinda). A penalty kicker has the run up and the follow through which is kinda like how the breath should be... In and out in one smooth movement (no 'holding it in!). If you wanna go the whole hog you could say the articulation bit is where the foot hits the ball???!! My 20 pence worth anyway... but then again what do I know, I do, after all, only play 4th cornet with CBA Silver Prize Band. All the best in your quest though. :)