Tuning problems

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Neillyboy, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Neillyboy

    Neillyboy Member

    I aim to seek the advice of the more experienced MD's around here.

    The he band I have taken on in may this year seems to really suffer from poor tuning. The band has around 12 kids in it who seem to have either not been taught the basics or just don't understand the techniques. I have got the band starting to really work on putting air into the instruments and trying to fill them which is really starting to work. And I'm now clamping down on lack of air in quiet passages. I also try tune the band regularly but some just don't listen to each other. I have also stressed to get instruments out cases at home and play hymn tunes.

    Does se anyone have some suggestions that I could try to get the band playing more in tune and get it sorted once and for all please.
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Playing in smaller groups is great for hearing how your sound relates to the sound of others. In a full band, it's hard to appreciate how your sound relates to the mix. Get some quartets together and take them to a solo and quartet contest.

    Edit: Also, singing. Not necessarily one for rehearsals, as people are shy about it, but singing in a choir makes your pitching much more accurate.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  3. BrianT

    BrianT Member


    With my band I refer to tuning as 'tracking' as it suggests an ongoing process rather than a one-time step. I never use a tuner with the band, because then it's your eyes that tell you when it's in tune, not your ears as it should be. And it also tunes just a single note - which is not what's required at all.

    Keep repeating to them that when you play a brass instrument you're not just broadcasting you're receiving the whole time too. Just telling them once won't be enough!

    Beginner players generally have poor intonation - so you must demonstrate perfect tuning to them every so often - get one of your players to play a note and then track their note so the tuning is absolutely perfect. The two notes will merge (I'd say 'mesh') so you can't distinguish the two players any more.

    And from then on you can say to them 'remember what good intonation sounds like? Try to get it to sound like that.' This is far better than telling them 'don't do that' when a note is out of tune. When they eventually realise they need to adjust as they play, the commonest fault will be to overcompensate. What they're aiming at is just 'thinking' the note higher or lower, and it will be enough to change the note by a few hertz to make it in tune.

    I also encourage my trainer band to listen hard when we play together and to try to spot someone else playing the same note in the chord and to lock onto that note.

    Commonly intonation is out when players are fighting their instrument and not playing right through the middle of the note. You can demonstrate this too, but it's up to each player to find this for themselves on their own instrument. Also, when it goes right, stop and ask 'what are you doing differently?' or 'how does that feel?'.

    This is based on my experience conducting Wantage Trainer Band for the last 10 years or so.
  4. Neillyboy

    Neillyboy Member

    Brian and Dave that is some superb advice il give it a shot. Thanks
  5. KenIrvin

    KenIrvin Member

    When dealing with the younger players, you could try a little physics lesson. When a note is played it vibrates at a certain frequency. Each note has a different frequency. When a note is played out of tune compared with a "right" note an oscillation or "beating" occurs. Get your players to recognise the beat and how to reduce it - obviously no beat means its in tune. In my case the "beating" actually hurts my ears so its easy to correct.

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