Playing loud - help!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by euphfanhan, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    I know a lot of people find it difficult to sustain loud dynamics in long passages...but I find it impossible to play loud at all! Every conductor I have ever played under has told me that I'm too quiet and no matter how hard I try, I can't play any louder! Does anyone have any suggestions? I've been told on numerous occassions that I can't be breathing properly...but this doesn't really help! I've tried shallow breaths, deep breaths, short breaths, long breaths, standing up/standing upside-down...(well, almost) and nothing works! It's driving me crazy!
    I also have another problem...on the rare occasions I do manage to play anything above mf, I start making odd growling noises as described here:

    I know it's difficult to suggest anything without actually hearing what I mean, but I'm still in the process of finding a teacher and if one more person tells me to play louder I'm afraid they won't be conscious in time for the Areas.
    I would be VERY grateful for any help!
  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    What did your embouchure change require? And what was your projection like before you had to make this adjustment?
  3. hmmm, it does happen, I know players in bands I play with who find it really hard, particuly bari and euph players. It sounds to me as though your doing everything right, breathing etc but its the buzzing which might need a bit of work. Try buzzing to increase your range and sound but this is the only thing that comes to my mind, other people may know something different?? Try opening your jaw a bit more as well maybe and make sure theres a small gap between your top and bottom teeth when you play? Will be an interesting post to watch this.

  4. Baritonedeaf

    Baritonedeaf Member

    A Denis Wick Practise mute opens the throat nicely and you can get some real volume if you can make the mute ring. I find that it is a good way of building stamina, might be worth a try.
  5. Lawrencediana

    Lawrencediana Member

    All you need is three weeks with Steve Bastable
  6. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    I used to play with part of my top lip above the mouthpiece. I never really noticed a problem with the louder dynamics before, but I was playing 2nd baritone/2nd euph at the time so I was always covered by 3 other people. It's becoming a bit of a problem now when I'm playing solo euph in one band and I am the entire euph section in the other!
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    2nd cornet virtuoso has a valid point in checking your buzz ... with and without mouthpiece. Burring or the breaking up of notes happens when the production of a note is not truely centred in pitch (and not matching the slotted notes in the instrument's harmonic series). Forcing more air through an instrument doesn't necessarily mean best practice for projection and dynamic control in my opinion. Players can be heard with minimal production effort as well.
  8. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    I thought it could be something to do with how far I open my jaw when playing, I've heard conductors tell people to play as if they have a hot potato in their mouth, presumably to make them open their jaw more. I've tried that, to no result.
    I've also tried changing the position of my lips on the mouthpiece, 5 other mouthpieces, 3 euphoniums and have come to the conclusion that the only option left is having cosmetic surgery on my entire head, or quitting altogether which is starting to become very appealling!
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    In the absence of a good remedial teacher who could quickly identify the main problem, sometimes the use of an embouchure visualiser can help. This would show irregularity in buzz efficiency and possibly air-flow restrictions as well!
  10. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    Hmm...interesting point - I just tried buzzing without a mouthpiece and found I can't do it at all :confused: Which is something I used to be able to do. So now I'm slightly worried! I have until September to make some sort of noise that resembles euphonium playing!
  11. I went through exactly the same perioud not so long ago actually, and my teacher said the same thing funnily enough, play as though theres a hot potato in my mouth, but it didn't help. Never give up, keep buzzing with and without a mouthpiece to make sure ur buzz is central and keep playing. If you practise for long enough I can almost garuntee you'll find a solution.
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Nothing much to worry about if you are prepared to spend a day or two developing your buzz away from your instrument only using your mouthpiece to seal the embouchure and focus the buzz. You have to cover all aspects though ... pitch variation and also duration of buzz.
  13. Keep buzzing!!!!!!!!!! Everywhere, in the living room, kitchen, mirror, toilet. This is the key to your volume problem I think! May be wrong but theres no harm trying, buzzing is the best thing you can do anyway.
  14. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    An additional point to remember is how you create the buzz and alter pitch. Although most people use variations of one or two methods try looking here for pointers.
  15. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Another thing you might do (so you can record your progress) is invest in an electronic deciblemeter. I found it was helpful in noting how loud I was able to play (as well as soft) and how well I could sustain it.

    You must always put it in the same spot in relation to you when practicing however, as sound energy and distance are an inverse square relationship.
  16. weez

    weez Member

    You are right, it would be difficult to suggest the exact action for you to take without being able to hear you/see how you play.

    I spent many years being told to play louder and that was one of the reasons I was put onto 2nd horn for a couple of years where I was surrounded by horn players with huge sounds! As I was forever playing long low passages I soon found my sound got bigger, my phrasing and breath control improved and I easily balanced with the higher horn parts.

    Overall, it's something to work at over a period of time but long low notes and pedals are the key as well as breathing properly. It's good to get on a low part in band because trying to balance with the higher sounds in the band really does push you more than you think!

    Also if you haven't already got it, get hold of 'fitness for brass' (forgotten publisher).. I use it for all my pupils and they have all developed massive sounds.. plus I'm always on at them about their breathing! ;)
  17. kensar

    kensar Member

    I have had several pupils over the years with exactly the same problem. I think that the way they learn or are taught in the first place can be very difficult to rectify at a later time. How the production of each note is started can be a big problem if not done correctly. I have had several pupils who produced notes only using their lips. No tongue involved at all!! This can be a nightmare to rectify. I have recently used a device called a BERP with young cornet player and I must admit I am amazed at the results in just 2 lessons. This device makes the player use tongue to produce the initial buzz and it highlights other aspects of production problems. The end result is a very much more centred sound, more accuracy in pitch(Most pupils tend to overpitch), better breath control and much greater dynamic range (Euphfanhan). I have now bought a set of these for Cornet.trumpet. Euph & Trombone and have been very pleased with the results. Like lots of other remedies though it relies on the pupil putting in the necessary practice to overcome the problem issue. The BERP can be bought from Trevada Music and I hasten to add I have no connection with them.
  18. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
  19. persins

    persins Member

    3 Weeks??!! More like 20 minutes!!!

    There are some good recommendations here. I would say that you may need to concentrate on doing the basics right and supporting the air flow right from your stomach rather than forcing from the throat.
    That way you'll get a stronger sound and with practice, perhaps a bigger sound.
  20. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    Some great suggestions on here, long notes are a really gpood way of building up stamina and control. A few years ago I felt I was struggling to get a really big sound so spent a week or so just working my way up to instrument from bottom F# to top C/D in semitones playing each notes for a few seconds (felt like minutes). Not only that but I did it with a duster wrapped around a mute and tried to play as "big" a sound as possible. Not really loud but trying to fill the instrument and feel the resistance. Whilst keeping the note steady and in tune. It was boring, tiring and frustrating at times, but it really worked.

    The buzzing is also really important. Try playing a scale on just your mouthpiece, or even without your mouthpiece. You'll need really breath control to do it well.

    Thirdly try "Ha-Ha-Ha"ing, as in exhaling loudly, do it to a few-bar rhythm, maybe a football chant type or something. Do that every morning and you'll build up your diaphragm control. (learnt that one from a top opera singer).

    Fourthly, how do you sit/stand is important. Making sure your arms are away from your body, that your back is straight and your feet a firmly on the ground.

    Finally the band you are playing with will make a difference. You will find that if you play in a really good band that is well in tune and well balanced, you will be able to centre your note mor easily and hence play louder. If, however, you are in a band that has bad tuning, you will struggle to centre the notes and struggle to play a bigger sound.

    Thats what I think anyway.