Tone Quality

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Melloman, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. Melloman

    Melloman New Friend

    Jul 24, 2010
    Wisconsin, USA
    I was wondering if you could offer any advice or playing tips to me involving tone quality. I am a senior in high school and my tone and range is not near what it should be at. I used to play with way too much mouth piece pressure, actually i was using all pressure to get to higher notes. I have been working on my embouchure and have been finding it extremely difficult to produce notes above g on top of the staff. I have been doing some mouth piece buzzing and it sounds airy also, so i know its not my horn. If you could help me find some exercises to help improve this I would be extremely grateful. I play a Bach TR300 with a 5C mouth piece. I ordered a 3C last week because my director thinks this will help with some of my problems. My director is a very good trumpet player himself but I thought perhaps you may have some different exercises.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  2. High School Trumpet

    High School Trumpet New Friend

    Jul 15, 2010
    Lip slurs, Long tones, Play your scales, and breathe breathe breathe (aka breathing exercises)!!!

    If you want to be good I suggest you get a trumpet teacher. Also ask the same question to your band director they will surely know!.
  3. High School Trumpet

    High School Trumpet New Friend

    Jul 15, 2010
    Oh yeah I almost forgot. I think the airy sound is because your not putting enough air through the instrument. Talk to your band director about breathing.
  4. Ric232

    Ric232 Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2009
    Coastal GA
    I hear this so much. Please explain how putting more air through the instrument does not equate to playing louder.
  5. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
    More air will give you a louder airy sound, maybe even blatty! You need to get a tighter buzz going. You might look into the James Stamp method. By the way, Orlando is full of monster players and great trumpet teachers. You need to find one.
    PM me if you want some referrals.
  6. Melloman

    Melloman New Friend

    Jul 24, 2010
    Wisconsin, USA
    I completely agree, I have been told many times to use more air and I kept ending up with a louder and still airy sound. I am googleing James Stamp Method right now.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    An airy sound comes from more air going through the lips than is turned to sound. This generally results from practicing or playing harder than your chops are ready for. This "beating up" of the embouchure makes it hard instead of supple. The solution is to practice more, but in smaller chunks, using better breath support and less physical pressure on the chops. It is part of a bigger, longer lasting program, not something that is cured overnight.

    Tone quality is improved by SLOWING DOWN. Turn your practice routine into
    1) long tones, slurs and scales
    2) tunes
    3) technical studies

    Music should ALWAYS get the freshest chops possible! Also get used to practicing more softly. That will help reduce the air in your sound as well as increase your dynamics and improve the amount of tonal "colors" available..
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I think that there is a misconception held by many younger, less experienced players that issues they have with their playing can be fixed with some kind of sage tip or tidbit of wisdom, and that the fix will be immediate if only they have the right information.

    The truth is almost never that simple.

    While being armed with a solid foundation of knowledge about what you are doing on the horn and why you are doing it is without a doubt a great thing to have, ultimately it boils down to patiently and diligently putting in the disciplined work over a period of weeks, months and even years.

    What Rowuk passed along to you is 100% accurate, although in my experience, doing soft articulation exercises also helps to lead to a better focus of chops, so I would recommend those as well. We're not talking anything fancy either - just working your tonguing between low C and 3rd space C, keeping things soft with reduced mouthpiece pressure, and working to make the articulation crisp and clean - the idea is that in order to get low volume articulations to speak clearly, your chops need to be focused and you have to have better balance of air. As Rowuk said, the airiness comes from not having a balance of air - too much air, not enough sound.

    Good luck with it - just be patient and remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is your embouchure - it's going to take some time and patience, diligently doing the work before you see the progress you want to see.
  9. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi Melloman,
    Let's make sure we're on the same page first:
    Tone is the particular "quality" of your sound.
    Some people have a dark tone and some people have a bright tone. Usually a person falls into one of these two areas. Dark or bright.
    Whether your sound is dark or bright, you want it to be rich, fat, and full.

    Often people will say "Play long tones" but just blowing without knowing what to listen for or what to feel is like a drill instructor at the firing range saying "Here's the gun, now just shoot"
    Here's what to do:
    1)Play a long tone. What do you hear?
    2)Now, play the same long tone again and this time do something different.
    3)Play the single long tone and very slowly bend it up and down. There will come a point when you're bending the note that the sound will perk up and it will feel like the trumpet came alive in your hand(no kidding). That's where you want to be with your sound.
    4)Now that you have your sound centered, play a long tone but close your eyes and imagine (yes, imagine) the sound growing "out" from your body. When you do this exercise, slowly make the sound "fat", not louder but fatter.
    Remember, I don't mean louder. Louder is bad, fatter is good.
    Once you can actually feel the sound growing out from your body and how the horn seems to vibrate more in your hands, you've got it.
    Think of long tone exercises more like meditation where you go to fix, enhance and maintain your sound.
    The next thing to do after you work on your tone is to work on projecting your sound. This is an easy one since all you do is play like you're playing to the person in the back of the room. Not louder, but project.
    Good luck.
    Hope this helps
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    To add to what Markie said, imagery can sometimes be used to help direct the chops in a subtle way. When I do long tones, I think of a round core of energy coming out of my bell, about the diameter of a silver dollar, boring a hole right through the far wall. Someone else once told me they think of a solid stream of water, falling out of their bell.

    Ultimately you have to have a sound concept in mind that you are trying to emulate, and for that, looking to well known players through their recordings is a great way to go.

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