Long tones : why doesn't it work for me ?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Lionelsax, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    Lionel, look again. In the first series of Flow Studies, there's nothing more difficult or higher than what you already play. Maybe you jumped ahead in the pages on the link?

    I doubt that if you can't play the half notes very slowly, with a pure sound, and steady pitch, long tones aren't going to do that much for you.
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Then you can't be relaxed. ;-)
  3. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Interesting, that's what was recently published as the long tone studies. The flow studies are a different book. Perhaps the person got the two mixed up.

    In any event, you should try these, they work very well. You don't have to play every page, the last two are pretty tough.

  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    My first thought is that you aren't allowing near enough time between tones. Rest for an equal amount of time as the notes you are playing. Also, playing long tones isn't about just going through it. Playing long tones is about making micro adjustments to improve your sound, usually based on a mental picture of what you want it to sound like. I used to use mental imagery of tight core of light or water boring a hole in the opposite wall.

    Something else you might try that is similar to playing long tones is to do single tonguing exercises up and down an easy chromatic scale, no higher than tuning C. I have always found that this improves the focus of my sound, helps me to reduce pressure, and works my corners as much as the long tones themselves - after all, behind the articulation is what? A long tone. :-)

    Something to always remember is that practice for the sake of practice is not really all that helpful - going through the motions isn't what gets you there if you aren't doing it correctly. Insightful, focused practice - where you really dig in and pay attention to how everything is working together, with the end result being better music - is what we should all be striving for. Doing long tones the way you did them (and I listened to the whole video) isn't going to do it.
  5. PiGuy_314

    PiGuy_314 Pianissimo User

    Oct 12, 2013
    One thing that came to my mind was along the liens of what some others were saying, but perhaps more specific:

    Especially in the upper register, your sound sounds pinched. Perhaps this is a result of some inefficiencies in the embouchure which would explain why you're not benefitting from long tones.

    Food for thought.

  6. Lionelsax

    Lionelsax Mezzo Piano User

    May 8, 2013
    No, I'm always anxiously relaxed !
  7. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    I've got the "Long Tones" book; just looked at it and you are right.
  8. Lionelsax

    Lionelsax Mezzo Piano User

    May 8, 2013
    Yes indeed, I took a look at the last pages too.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    I think that you do not yet know what longtones are good for and what the prerequisites for making them "useful" are.

    You see, I never start lessons or even my own practice sessions with playing. I start with BREATHING. If I am not getting a relaxed big breath, NOTHING that comes afterwards will be positive. After I get the big breath, I need to release the air in a consistent, relaxed way. If there is tension in my exhale, it will show up in every sound that I make. Very typical culprits during the exhale are not simply "letting go" as well as upper back/shoulder or neck tension. We must solve these issues first!

    Now getting to your video: I do not "see" anything that is important to my concept of playing. I am not sure that it can even be filmed. In any case, there are still some big problems that I do see. Please be seated and in a good mood before you read this!

    1) Your posture is bad - you move your head forward to the horn putting it WAY IN FRONT of the spine. The head is also angled down, pinching off the throat. These two factors mean that your upper back and shoulders MUST be tense to hold the head up. This means that you are NOT GETTING A BIG RELAXED BREATH!
    Check this link out for a better way to deal with your body: David G. Monette Corporation

    2) Watch your body when you breathe - see it twist and turn? See your chest raise in a big way? Why? If you are standing or sitting up straight, head slightly back, chest cavity "prepared" for a breath, chin slightly tucked in, hardly anything moves except in the abs area where there are no bones limiting movement. This means that you are NOT GETTING A BIG RELAXED BREATH!

    3) it is WAY TOO EARLY to deal with it (I never address tonguing before breathing works), but worth mentioning: because your breathing sucks, you "kick start" each tone with a hammer tonguing ATTACK (to be fair, the first attack was less than the following one - the second one would cause me to take the cornet away from you in a lesson and go back to breathing exercizes). I find long tones far most useful when we use no tongue at all and just exhale them. Then the tongue is not wandering around in the mouth modulating the tone.

    So, this was only the first 20 seconds of your video and I see that your complete trumpet playing house is built on sand. Something has to cave when the tide comes in.

    I should stop here, but am on a roll, so after 25 seconds of video........
    4) I notice that you do not "exhale" the long tones, you produce a HAAAA to force air and the heavy tonguing is not synchronized at all with it - both suck

    5) At about 50 seconds you start to wag the cornet like a dogs tail

    6) The consistency of tone makes it sound like you had 5 cups of coffee prior to playing this. There is a nervousness in your exhale that is typical for that situation. There are other things that also react like coffeine - like lack of sleep!

    7) at 1:20 or so, you play a low C# - better than anything before. The resistance of a cornet is pretty high when all 3 valves are down - that obviously compensates for your weak breathing. Low C is open and then everything falls apart again.

    8) Around 1:40 I hear a sustained double buzz. There can be a lot of reasons for that. Maybe you are "grunting" or singing" along without noticing it. Without breathing being sorted out, it makes no sense to mention any of the possible causes!

    9) At about two minutes I stop listening.

    So, the reason that long tones are not working is because you currently have none of the prerequisites to play them correctly (except a horn and a mouthpiece).
    Step one is posture. You have to learn to prepare your body for the activity that follows.
    Step two is circle of breath
    Step three will probably be in 3-4 weeks to review if step 1 and 2 are far enough along to allow for other things.

    If you were my student, I would probably recommend getting a checkup to check for blood pressure, sodium levels, lung activity, causes for bad posture (I learn too - I once blasted a player with crappy posture - turns out they had MS, didn't know it and there was no solution, talk about embarassed. Things like this make me more "humble!"). Next would be a 3-4 hour lesson on body use (no instrument). Players that bring bad habits are always a special challenge. We have to find possibilities to overcome the physical and mental blocks preventing changing habits. That cannot happen in the beginning with 60 minutes monitoring per week. After the body use workshop, 2-3 days later a standard lesson to check progress and train the circle of breath. A couple of days later comes the check on the circle of breath. If that is satisfactory, weekly lessons will probably be enough. Generally, players with bad habits do not "get it" after two lessons. There is just too much to think about when fixing broken. ALL FUTURE SUCCESS IS DEPENDENT ON GETTING THE FOUNDATION OF BODY AND AIR SOLID. There is no other way in my opinion.

    Good luck
  10. Lionelsax

    Lionelsax Mezzo Piano User

    May 8, 2013
    I love your comment rowuk, everything you write makes me laugh, you're right I need to learn how to breath, the truth is that I haven't got any experience with wind instruments.
    Thanks for having listened.

Share This Page