Tone assistance.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tkdstevie, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. tkdstevie

    tkdstevie New Friend

    Feb 22, 2013
    Hello, I am a college sophomore majoring in music performance, and recently my teacher has pointed out a major flaw in my playing. Half the time when I change notes, my pitch is not centered correctly, and my tone ends up sounded flat, and what many of the other Brass Professors have described as "dull". Thankfully this doesn't happen all the time (and I am working on it by doing lots of long tones, and also routines where I try to buzz the correct pitch on the mouthpiece.) However I was wondering if anyone has any other suggestions, since I really want to get this problem fixed as soon as possible.
  2. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Sounds as if your embouchure is not centered within the mouthpiece, or that you are actually playing a mouthpiece that is too big for you. If you could do a few pics and a youtube video of your playing, it would help enormously with diagnosis. Otherwise, it's like shoveling smoke in a dark room...
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Agree with above. Aim the flow of air into that little hole at the other end. Do it with ease and relaxation, and don't force it.
  4. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Learn how to make yourself sound "dull" on command. Analyze what you do to accomplish that, then don't do it anymore.
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Oh, and welcome to TM, tkdstevie!
  6. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
  7. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    I don't think buzzing on the mouthpiece will help here because this actually doesn't have anything to do with pitch (maybe you also have intonation problems, I dunno, but the "dull" sound doesn't have anything to do with pitch). It has to do with where the center of each note is on your horn.

    There is a spot where a note will "light up". You need to find that spot. Try lipping the note down and then up again until you find it. Often times this spot actually WON'T be perfectly in tune and you need to compensate with slides or even alternate fingerings if a particular note is really bad. Also, it's not enough to simply play the note at that spot - the hard part is that you need to give it the right air pressure/etc to get it to light up (it might help to experiment with using the "ee" syllable and thinking hot/fast air). Once you figure out how to do this, you should be able to turn it on or off at will - maybe having your teacher demonstrate this in person will help it click for you. There is a big difference in sound that is very easy to hear in person once you know what to listen for, but hard to explain and hard to hear in a recording.

    Long tones are good but you need to know what you're trying to accomplish with them. Mindlessly just playing long tones won't help, at least not with this. What I like to do is start off playing loud-ish as it's easier to get the notes to light up when you are playing louder. So let's say we play a 3rd space C kind of loud and with that great ringing resonant sound. Now keep holding the C, but get as soft as you can while still keeping that ring in the sound. The softer you get, the harder it is to do this.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  8. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    You haven't said what your teacher says is your problem. If he hasn't told you then you need to ask. Depending on your teacher and their experience they should be able to give you suggestions as to what to do to correct the problem.
  9. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005
    I'd look closely for two potential problems here:

    - you're embochure is getting tired (your mouthpiece is too big, etc.) as you change notes it's not able to 'reset' because of fatigue

    - there's a problem with your breath support

    I'd practice long phrases (single or minimal breaths) with a pretty good number of note changes and really pay attention to when this happens. Are you out of breath? Holding air in you chest? Trying to reset your chops? Something else going on that I haven't thought of?


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