Intonation issues...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by rjzeller, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

    Mar 7, 2005
    Rochester, MN
    Okay...for a while I thought maybe the problem was my mouthpiece, so I've switched. Things DID improve, but I'm still struggling with intonation..

    Most of my notes above the staff go sharp, most below go flat. My low D, while sharp as is the case on all trumpets, is not nearly as sharp as it is for most players. My D is flat, my Fs and As are sharp, and on and on....

    I'm sure much of this could be improved by forcing myself to remember "tooh" instead of the "ah/ee" crap I used to do...but still...

    Do you have suggestions for someone who wants to work on his intonation and improve it? Sure, a valved instrument is fundamentally disposed to having some problems with intonation, but it seems for me I'm always higher on the pitch when above the staff then those I'm performing with, and lower when below the staff.

    Are there excercises that might help get me where I'm more "in-tune" when I play? Right now I just practice scales with a tuner...any other ideas?
  2. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    All of the problems you mention fall in line with the natural tendencies of most trumpets. The upper register sharpens as you climb and the lower register flattens as you descend. Right now, it seems as though the horn is playing you. Several folks have mentioned playing scales/intervals against a drone, which is a good method for addressing this problem. Once you know the tendencies of notes, you can adjust accordingly when playing. You need to find those sweet spots in the sound as well. Learn to trust and train your ears and only "test" yourself periodically by glancing over at the tuner. Don't work on this with your eyes glued to the tuner since you can't do that when playing in real life situations. Um...other than that......I dunno. I am sure Senor Manny and others will arrive with some other helpful methods.
  3. trjeam

    trjeam Pianissimo User

    Dec 5, 2003
    I have a Tone CD that my teacher gave me with all the Notes in a scale and in different 8va's perfectly in tune (A440).. or sometimes I'll use my tuner that has a tone thing...

    Anyway, to help find the "sweet spots" and to train my ears I do long tones and scales with the tones playing in the background..

    For example:

    I'll have concert Bb tone playing and then I'll match the perfect intonation with my trumpet .. then I'll go up a concert Bb scale making sure that every note is in tune...

    or I'll go Bb-C, Bb-D, Bb-Eb and so on...and then i come back down.. again the purpose is to work on your intonation..

    The CD is cool because it also has major chords and you can practice with that...

    The short answer is that I think having those tones in the background help accomplish what Trompetvrouw was talking about
  4. Philippe

    Philippe New Friend

    Oct 17, 2005
    the "magic" trick for intonation

    Using an audible tuner is an excellent tool to help figure out pitch tendencies. The aural stimulation can really help to know what to expect and make the adjustment before the note happens.
    Playing with a proper balance of flex, flow and focus is also an essential ingredient to good intonation because you are then freed to place the note where ever your ears tell you. If it isn't perfectly in tune, do it until it is.
    This sort of repetition will train your body to constantly find the sweet spot and to also to further relax the blow . Your body will do what it needs to do to make it happen (balance) as long as you have the right sound concept in your head. Careful repetition will eventually make excellent intonation a valuable asset to your playing rather than a liability. You only break old habits by creating new ones.
    If I am having trouble with intonation on a given passage, I will be sure that i can sing it perfectly in tune. (not necessarily in rhythm). I will also experiment with finding the sweet spot in my voice and hit everything in between. I will also try to get the notes straight on as to avoid training my ears to scoop to notes. This sort of practice enforces good flow/flew balance in my tumpet playing, keeps my throat open and will help me make more musical sense when i play it on my horn.
    The Henderson Variation movements are good examples for intonation practice. So are the arban's book lyrical melodies or concone, bordogni bitsch etudes, charlier etudes, Vizutti/CLARK etc. SCALES and arpeggios (you'de be surprised) Anything that you can't hear yet without a trumpet in your hand will be a great aid to excellent intonation. (internalization)
    As for equipment, I think it is important to have a good balanced instrument with a mouthpiece that you are comfortable with. I do not in any way condone changing equipment to try to create an asset so long as you have the aformentioned requirements. It is very important to know what the pitch tendencies are for all 36 (standard) notes on the trumpet. This will further simplify your discovery of good intonation. It is also very very important to know how and when to properly use your slides. Precise and defined.(and well greased)
    You are what you are. As they say, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.
    Let your ears be your guide.
  5. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Ahem, 'hem...

    Mr. Zeller, please go to the board and write one hundred times, "Tooh".

    Sorry, Rich... the cartoon baloon in my head was too funny not to share.

    The key is to play in the center of the sound. I advocate the constant "Tooh" because it strengthens the muscles in the jaw and gives us a consistent approach that feeds the need for consistency of sound we want. For what it's worth, it's something I think about every day, albeit briefly. This approach of pronouncing Tooh helps a strong player like you play in the center of the tone. The problem is that as you ascend you're likely activating the usual "eeh" (that should be reserved for the altissimo register) way too early.

    Go for an honest approach that lets you play in the center of the tone and THEN judge your intonation. I'm willing to bet you're not as out of tune as you may believe if you just play in the best part of the sound.

    Fat low register, fat middle register, fat high register... like Conrad Gazzo or Doc or Mannie Klein. There are others, obviously.

    Now, I'll say this: I suspect that if you play in the fattest part of your high B and C it'll sound flat. Once you find that to be the case, the hunt for a mouthpiece that lets you play fat and in tune begins!

  6. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    I learned something from the Monette website that I found holds very true - at least with my tuner, a Sabine Metrotune MT9000 and that is you cannot always rely on them being accurate. These tuners are not made with very good microphones which can and will distort volume and the intensity of the sound sometimes giving false readings.
    I also remember practicing in front of the Strobo-Conn tuner we had in High School and remembering all the harmonics that would show on the individual lights when the pitch of the tone was right on. This situation is also mentioned on the Monette sight and I learned to rely on my ears from this method. If it sounds beautiful it is in tune and vice versa. (That is a Herseth saying).
    Of course, Manny is absolutely right - the center of sound is the key and tooh is main element. I know when I am really on, the sound is fat and virtually effortless in all ranges. (If only that were more often!!).
    As I am writing this, Doc S. has just played the the Carmen Fantasy from the Trumpet Spectacular album and that is certainly a sound to use as a basis for your own. A wonderfully open, fat, and in tune sound.
    Use your tuner, but your ears will learn to tell the truth, tooh. (Pun intended).
    Good toohting.
    Rich Tomasek
  7. londonhusker

    londonhusker Guest

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