How to actually practice long tones?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by garmeth, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. garmeth

    garmeth New Friend

    Dec 4, 2010
    I was wondering how I should go about practicing long tones properly. I realize its something that I have never really done ( probably more boring than watching the grass grow for me tbh its torture) but I need to start doing some as my tone hasn't really gotten any better. Something I never did for my entire trumpet career up to like 3 weeks ago was play softly when practicing, thus I can't play soft AT ALL without sounding airy or being flat out not able to make a soft attack ( the attacking is really bad on notes below a g in the staff).

    So when I practice long tones am I supposed to play every note I can starting at like a g in the staff and then go down chromatically and then all the way back up to the extent of my range? I've heard a trillion different things concerning long tones, stuff like play them low, start middle then go down then go up, play them to improve your tone, play them soft, play them loud. Also how long should I hold them? Each note for as much breath as I have? is 8 counts at 60 tempo enough? is it really the more the better and is it just up to how much time I'm willing to put in to them? What's reasonable?

    so many questions :(.

    - Thanks.
    Evie likes this.
  2. Mark_Kindy

    Mark_Kindy Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 11, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    My advice to you --- play long tones in your comfortable range. You don't want to be straining, because that trains your muscles for tension, so stay in a range that your lips can work with; the range will open up as you go. As long as you work to reduce tension, I think you'll find that all of your other questions answer themselves.

    I try to devote 10 minutes of an hour to long tones, if not a bit more, which includes appropriate REST time. I think the appropriate duration of notes is very reliant on the player.
  3. Charles652011

    Charles652011 New Friend

    Sep 26, 2010
    Indiana, USA
    My teacher found me studying the Claude Gordon Systematic Approach to Daily Practice for Trumpet. He said, "Buy it and do that."
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I recommend longtones with no tonguing. I describe this in my posts on circle of breath.
  5. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011

    Practice long tones both soft and VERY LOUD! When playing loud look to put stress on your whole body. Not just chops. BLOW!

    Better yet get a gig which requires you to play nearly non stop. If you can't find a gig (either paying or not) find a rehearsal band that demands much on your physical prowess. Even a German band isn't such a bad idea. Sure the polka music sucks but you can blast out a lot of notes while building chops and THE BLOW.

    (I always capitalize THE BLOW for reasons of repetition)

    Failing to find a gig that demands a lot from you physically? Play the following tune until you lips fall off:

    M.F.S.B. - "T.S.O.P." - FULL, EXTENDED MIX - '73 - stereo - YouTube

    Play ALL string and horn lines exactly as played. the first note is a F# to first ledger line A. Then a B back to A etc.

    Too high? Play it down an octave but BLAST all the notes. Later transpose up a perfect fourth starting on the third space C#. Then once you can play VERY LOUD bring it back to original key as I described.

    Play all the accents at 1:25 (F natural to D etc.)

    Again: play till you feel you must quit or pass out. No mercy.

    Herbert L. Clarke considered long tones a waste of time. His point being that his technical studies killed three birds with the same stone:

    breath control, fingers and chops. The whole book is in pdf. file here: Technical studies for the cornet - Herbert Lincoln Clarke - Google Books
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
  6. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    just so ya know... the google books IS NOT the whole Clarke book in pdf... just a few pages.
  7. Richard Oliver

    Richard Oliver Forte User

    Jul 18, 2006
    Casper, WY
    So good to see young people excited about making music!

    TM members, feel free to mock, scold, & repudiate at will regarding what I say :)


    Read over your past posts. Hope that cut lip is a thing of the past. And thanks for posting those clips on Youtube! Takes sincerity and courage and passion to do so.

    About long tones, make a great sound.

    Sure that applies to all our practice/performance stuff. But with long tones, there's no bother about multiple tonguing, or 144 beats per minute, or tricky fingering.

    Clean your horn and mouthpiece, and make a great sound. Close eyes, open ears, and if you can swing it, try it in your normal practice area then give it a shot in a bathroom or kitchen where rugs, curtains, etc won't gobble up your sound.

    And if you don't own this book -------> Max Schlossberg, Daily Drills...Trumpet method book and cd

    Do some chores & ask Mom and Dad to get it for you. Sure there's a zillion books, but that one should be part of the library you will build over time. Comes with a CD fwiw.

    Good luck on all your future music making endevors :)
  8. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    My teacher has me doing "his" long tone routine with a "hoo" attack, no tonguing. This teaches you how to form an efficient embrochure so the lips respond right away when the air hits them. The goal is to create a resonant sound while learning to breath and use air efficiently. I would post a *.pdf of the exrecise if I coud figure out how to do so on this website.

    But, I have one additional question. When should long tones occur within a practice session? Everthing I do after a long tone exercises is harder to accomplish, which seems counter-intutive if your are trying to develop and learn how coordinate everything. By analogy, it would be like trying to learn how to use chopsticks to pick up a single grain of rice "after" having squeezed a stress ball for an hour. But, nontheless, long tones are before I do harmonic slurs or lip flexibility exercises.

  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Play the tones long.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Long enough such that you "own" the tone. You have control of its pitch, the clarity of sound AND you do so with comfort. This is reasonable, and you may be done before you run low on breath. BUT as you know breathing is essential, so make sure you do have appropriate breath support (with reserve would be nice) to accomplish the task.

    The purpose for the long tone is to get lip muscle primed, with appropriate blood flow, with enhancement of contractual febrile response so you can get control of optimal lip vibration. Once you can achieve this control with long tones, you are good to go with further rehearsal studies or performances. I know, I know... this sounds like warm up doesn't it? It is. Wow look at all the people posting here supporting this concept of warm up. It MUST be important, right? Even more than important, it IS essential!

Share This Page