Playing FF...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Seedhouse, Oct 2, 2003.

  1. Seedhouse

    Seedhouse Active Member

    Hello, in last nights rehearsal, a eupher and I were talking, and it seems that I can't play anything above a forte! :cry: :? It may just be that I can't get enough air through the instrument to play FF, or maybe I'm doing something wrong???
    Can anyone help? Give me any advice or exercises on how to play above FF?? He says I can do it, but it seems to be just being consistent!
  2. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    One thing to bear in mind is that all dynamic markings are relative - what is appropriate as a ff for Wagner may well be excessive for Mozart, for example. From what you say, it sounds as if you may be right in that the problem really lies in developing a fuller sound, rather than necessarily playing much louder.

    I'm sure other tMPers will be able to point you in the direction of tailor-made exercies to help with sound projection, but I do remember reading somewhere - I think on the trombone forum - that Dennis Wick found that his pupils' sound became much fuller once they had spent some time using one of his practice mutes - having been used to blowing against resistance, once that was removed the throat still opened up to improve the tone.

    I shouldn't get too hung up over volume, though, and whatever you do, don't push it so that your sound becomes distorted.
  3. Tromgod

    Tromgod Member


    Long note practice is essential for building a big sound. Try playing long note scales loud with consistent volume through the range.

    Make sure you are pushing from the diaphragm and not the chest or anywhere else and the use of a good practice mute is great for developing sound.

    Best of luck and keep trying.
  4. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    I'd go along with what Peter has said. Get yourself a practice mute (or wrap a duster round your straight mute, just below the corks). Playing louder is like anything else - you need to practice it. When I have a gig with a powerfull group or ensemble I spend a couple of days playing very loudly into my practice mute to build up the volume again.

    Another tip is to practice as loudly as you can, then when it comes to the rehearsal or gig you can take it back a notch or two and regain control of your sound - you will find that your volume and sound have improved!

    Also if playing in a section work on your tuning together - a perfectly tuned section will sound much louder than one that isn't, and this does not require any extra volume from individual players.

    Of course the above assumes that you have got the fundamentals of breathing and support sorted . . . . ..
  5. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Another thought - should this topic be in here . . . ? Perhaps the rehearsal room might be better . . . just a thought :D
  6. dyl

    dyl Active Member

    It is Mike! ;)
  7. beard_4b

    beard_4b Member

    haha :lol: :lol: :lol:
  8. Seedhouse

    Seedhouse Active Member

    If you would like to move it then do so! :D I don't know how :? :roll:
  9. iggmeister

    iggmeister Member

    I always thought you sounded best with a practice mute in as well mate!

    My suggestion is that to develop a bigger sound you need to eat a proper Cornish pasty each week. If that doesn't work at least you can use the pasty as a practice mute to help develop your sound!

    I think the most important thing to do is ensure that you don't over exert. It's okay playing loud but overblowing is awful. Even the best do it sometimes and it sounds really amatuer. Never sacrifice quality for quantity.

  10. Jo Elson

    Jo Elson Member

    There isn't a set loudness for ff. so if you make all your other dynamics one nitch lower then your f will become ff, but will have to learn to play your p an pp's even quiter. Just a thought.
    We do this a band rehearsals sometimes. Roger makes us play our tuning note or first note of a hymn at pp then p then mp and so on until we get to ff. Or from ff down to pp an if we can't manage the pp cos we started off to quiet or ff cos we started off to loud we all have to adjust.
  11. Di B

    Di B Member

    I think there are different things going on here..... I remember a time when I never did play loud and it was mainly because I wasn't using my diaphragm correctly. The way I was breathing into the instrument was affecting my volume. I would double check this one first. (I think the practice mute also helps with your breathing here too but they are not cheap for a euph!)

    The other thing that may be the problem is the difference in sound. I know that technically I ain't a bad player, but my sound is not how I would ideally like it to be - it sounds thin to me, even though others do say I have a good sound (when in practice!!!). I have come to accept that although I could improve my sound to an extent I will probably never have the natural big full fat rich euphonium sound some of my mates have - its more to do with the way I am made I guess!

    I would say don't overblow no matter what anyone else says and keep going on with the long notes etc to improve your breathing and your sound. Have patience and I would speculate in time the volume will cometh! ;-)

    Would be interested to hear other views on this point actually, why can some people fill an instrument, another can't and another rips it apart? Is it just practice??
  12. BottyBurp

    BottyBurp Member

    I'm lucky in that I can quite easily rip apart a note without having to practise it... :wink:
  13. Cantonian

    Cantonian Active Member

    As a student I'm sure you could acquire a traffic cone!
  14. Di B

    Di B Member

    For us female non students, I think the best idea is have (or even better, borrow) a baby.... that way you get to mute the sound *and* you get a free cot into the bargain :wink: Just make sure you don't forget the nappies! :shock: :shock:
  15. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Problem comes when you blow so hard that the baby goes flying out of the end of the bell :wink: :lol: :lol:
  16. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    Know a conductor who makes people play hymns at p then pp then ppp then pppp then ppppp..... can get a bit annoying but I suppose he's making a point about dynamics :?
  17. tewkeshorn

    tewkeshorn Account Suspended

    Heh, Seedhouse your uniform in that pic looks just like ours, except we've got grey lapels instead of black! :)

    Anyway, back on topic I keep getting told off cos I keep playing from my neck+cheeks instead of my diagram (no idea how to spell diaphram so I'll use diagram instead!), and although I can play loud it's only loud for about half a second cos I kind of blow like a gas canister thats exploded and got no way to control the air. My main problem is consiously breathing and actually holding air in reserve for long notes.

    I've found blowing into paper bags with a couple of holes in help you to maintain the airspeed (hmm now this sounding like a flying lesson) and is great when playing long loud notes (which is the other thing horns seem to play apart from off-beats!).

    That was probably nonsense rambling but hey! :p
  18. neiltwist

    neiltwist Active Member

    ok, there seems to be a couple of possibilities here, either you can't physically match the band (with volume), or the size and projection of your sound isn't as good as you'd like it to be.

    There is one exercise (and general principle) that hasn't been mentioned so far:

    before you can play loud, you have to be able to play quietly.

    try taking a hymn book home, solo cornet part is the most interesting possibly, and play any hymn as quietly as you can, so quiet that sometimes the note doesn't 'speak'. This will help your 'diaphragm'(sp.?), and your control over it.

    If you do persue the 'play as loud as you can' technique, then make sure that you don't start pressing too hard (this is also true of the quietness technique with high notes though!).

    Hope this helps,

  19. The Judge

    The Judge Member

    Don't know if anyone has already suggested this, but how about sticking a pillow or similar down your bell and playing some long notes. A couple of our bass players tried this after being advised to do it by a well known and eminent conductor and I certainly think we sound like a different band these days.
  20. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    When do you get to take out the pillows?


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