How can i improve my standard of playing ?

i know what the first answer many people will immediatly think of, but please, read on ..........

i have a reasonable tone and would like to keep it / improve it, but this is not my weakness.

i am not a very good technical player, so i need to concentrate on this area of my playing.

the question i have is not to practice, it is WHAT to practice !

i have the Arban (of course) and Herbert Clarkes Characteristic Studies and Technical Studies. I also have a lip flex book somewhere ( :shock: ).

after next week, i should have a bit more time to practice (got mum & dad's tax returns to do) as i am unemployed.

any help would be greatley appreciated.


Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
Play something you like!!! I remember one of the first things myteacher played for me when I switched to tuba was Roy Newsome's "Swiss Air". The theme is catchy, and the variations are stylish, tricky in parts, yet fun!

Enjoyment can be a big motivator!

The Cornet King

Active Member
I always used to find that "what" to practice was the biggest issue.

I think the best way is to do a bit of everything in your practice session, with plenty of little rests to rest the chops.

Practice particularly, long notes, lip flexibility, arban pages 59-74 for scales and finger speed (there you can practice your B Major!!!), multiple tonguing. If you do this in small chunks every rehearsal you should see an improvement.

I would also recommend buying Roddy's Embouchoure books, they made me realise loads about my own playing. I'll have a word with you tonight if you want Chris about these books, can bring one to show you if you want????


Well-Known Member
For me, the key to being able to read technical passages on demand lies in plenty of playing of music that you are not particularly familiar with - in other words, in sight-reading. This gets me alert and concentrating in a way that 'practising something up' just doesn't.

But then my problem has always been concentration - your mileage may vary...



Active Member
I think if you have the benefit of playing for a band whose music you enjoy and standard you are up to, then home practice should be for doing the 'ugly' stuff. Flexibilites, long notes, exercises, scales - all dull but in my humble opinion, the best way to build consistency and stamina. People often look at mouthpieces, instruments and allsorts of other things to 'improve' themselves but if the basics are not there, there is no substance to build on.

Practising music you enjoy is fun but if the ultimate aim is to improve all areas, then what good is sticking in your 'comfort zone'?

Don't be afraid to approach someone for lessons too - tutors are not just for learners!

Any thoughts?


Di B

Tutors are a good idea..... someone can give you an idea on the sorts of exercises used for all areas of playing techniques. Also, if you are not the most motivated of players, a tutor can give you a kick or two when needed! :lol:

After a few months of tutoring you may find that you have a better idea of what to practice yourself and no longer require the tutor.

If cost is a problem, why not just have one or two lessons with a decent tutor with the aim to devising a home practice schedule tailored to your needs? I am sure most would do this - they would just need to have enough time to work out your strengths, weaknesses etc before giving you the practise schedule.

At the end of the day we are all different in what we enjoy practising and what our strengths and weaknesses are, so this is a good option if you can do it.....

Naomi McFadyen

New Member
how to improve standard of playing:

simple really-
- By playing with a top section band...
- Sight-reading over and over again improves standard a great deal too, I've found...
- Practice practice practice!



Active Member
Just a few suggestions:

>>To start off with, play a few long notes on your mouthpiece to get your lips buzzing and then do some simple single tonging on it as well.

>>Move onto your instrument and begin with a few lip slur and flexibility exercises. Only do about 4 of the exercises starting from the very beginning of the book, if you mess one up, start on that section again.

>>Play a few scales. Using the harder scales like F# and C# can help or the ones with difficult fingering. Also, try doing some of the chromatic scale exercises on pg 80 - 86 in the Arban.

>>Single tonging- pg 35 ex. 36 & 37, do them slow to start of with but get faster when you start to find it easy. Also do some double and triple tonging in the arban as well, again, take it slow to start off with.

>>Intervals pg 91 in the Arban

>>Practise up some of the studies at the back of the book as well. If you can play them, most pieces will probably become easier.

If you are feeeling down with your playing, or not feeling that you are practising up to your usual standard. Have a couple of days just practising your favourite pieces, it will make you feel better about yourself and make you want to practise more!

Hope this helps


Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
To help with both the enjoyment and the sightreading factor, go to the Magic Hole In The Wall, withdraw half your savings. From there, head to the nearest music store, and buy whatever takes your fancy. Now you have some new music to liven things up, and a goal to work towards - being able to play the song you bought last week!


The best solution is to have a couple of lessons with someone who really knows their stuff - and then go and practice like hell and go back for more tuition a couple of months later.
If you are still in contact with Richard Grantham try to get a few lessons from him.
He was a very gifted player with a good grasp of how and why, technically and musically.
If you do speak to him, please pass on my best wishes.

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