Do You Think Thoroughly?


Active Member
Just wondering how many of us actually think thoroughly before we play a note.
Do we just do it, or would we be able to explain clearly and thoroughly how we play a note?
The reason I ask, is beacuse I asked one of my students how he played a note, and he couldn't answer me. All he knew was how to do it.
Anybody else know 'just how to do it', or do you think thoroughly?
By thoroughly I mean posture, breathing, thinking about the pitch of the note, hearing it in your head first etc etc etc


Staff member
too much thinking psyches me out.
yes, I know how I do it, and am required to, because I teach - but when playing, I tend to concentrate on the sound as much as possible. It helps not to think then.


Staff member
The question reminded me of when I was playing in the South London Youth Band under Maurice Cooper and he was saying much the same thing. In particular, he would point out that, however short a note may be, it should still have a start, middle and end, and not be snatched at.

As to whether I always put it into practice, though - that is another matter :oops: :wink:


sometimes i dont realise what i'm actually doing half the time. I just follow the music and the notes automatically come out! But on exposed or "important" notes like a pp top A at the end of a hymn arrangement i have to go through the process of
1 tensing my stomach to support the sound.
2 start to build up pressure in the mouth with tongue still pressed at the top of my mouth
3 then quickly put my tounge down and keep supporting the air all the way from the stomach not just the throat or the chest.

Other than that i cant say i concentrate too much

Dave Euph

Where possible I try to hear the note in my head first and look complicated passages through imagining how they would sound and feel.

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
That's a fair question, and to be honest, it wasn't ever an issue for me until around 3 years ago.

I was playing 3rd EEb in Cap Silver, and always listening to the principal Eb and Bb players during any solos. Their sounds were gorgeous, and I wanted anything to be as good as them. It was more than the way they played, it was something a little extra. So I began forcing myself to think about my notes.

Now I have what my band calls some flipped out ideas on playing.

As a conductor, I try not to force too heavily my beliefs on the band. If i did, we'd rehearse 3 times a week for 2.5 hours, and everyone would do at least 45 mins a days practice or be forcibly demoted or removed from the band!! However, my band is full of children and adults who play for fun, so certain concepts do need to be brought up. While I don't tell my band how to play every goddarned note, there are occassions where I will stop the basses and remind them that I'm chasing bass guitar slapping, not marching tubas. Or the Horns to be more "LSO-ish" and not Grumpy, Sleepy and Dopey from the Seven Dwarves.

So far, the basses are getting it, because they enjoy the attention, I think. The trombones think I am victimising them (until they get a clean sweep at the christmas Awards Ceremony!!!) and my cornets feel neglected (I mean they consist of half my band!! To explain it to them would take a whole rehearsal!! Let me fix everything else first!).

By discussing a style or "sonic stereotype," I am forcing the band members to think about their notes a little more.


Active Member
i've never thought about what i'm doing. I remember being taught different tounging and thinking "What? Put my tongue higher? Where is it now? What are you on?" but then when I was told to think syllables it worked... i think i just sing in my head while i play!

Naomi McFadyen

New Member
Do I think throughly??
Mmmmm, now, let me think...

*long pause used for thinking time*... ouch!

No... I'm a drummer... what do you think?

When i want to play something particularly well i try to think about every note i play. obviously its not possible in fast passages and stuff, but i'll often think about my approach to playing a note, thinking how to get the best sound out of the instrument i'm playing etc. Its useful practice taking an easy part and playing it to make the best possible sound using your best technique- mind training and all that.
But what would i know, i'm only a drummer...
. . . or perhaps that should be 'How many of us think thourougly when practicing'

When playing a concert/contest etc, you do need to think, however the time spent in the practice room should mean that you can rely on the technique that you have learnt already to see you through. Practise is about building habits - having done the proper practice you will know that your breathing/toungng/embouchure etc are OK. Without sufficient practice split notes and nerves are more pronounced.

When playing I do have certain thoughts but not in the detail that you suggest (I hope that my time in the practice room has corrected these). My thoughts during performance are normally twofold - breathe and concentrate on the next note (as opposed to any others - past or future).

Think thouroughly when practicing - use that when performing.


personally i dont deliberately do anything, as soon as i deliberately do something it gets messy. Sure i know what noteim gona play but i dont try to hear it in my head first and certainly dont think about tongue position or posture.Music is a freedom of expression, if your constantly thinking aboput technique you'll prob b a good teachers....!


Keppler said:
too much thinking psyches me out.

totally agree if I am stood up to play a solo and I think too hard about the notes or the twiddly bits I will mess it up, I just have to kind of switch off and trust that I've practised it enough to let my fingers do the work!


Active Member
i think that the thinking part is something that should occur in the first year or so of learning to play. Once you have been taught to think correctly about your playing, then it will become habit.
Thinking about things is dangerous to have as a past time - my thinking is bad enough on serious things without having to think about a hobby.

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