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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Issues with intonation in the General forums; Recently I have been brought into working on my intonation. As far as my listening goes, however, I have some ...
  1. #1
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    Nov 2011

    Issues with intonation

    Recently I have been brought into working on my intonation. As far as my listening goes, however, I have some issues. I can always tell when I am out of tune, but for some reason I can't tell whether I am flat or sharp. What can I do to help with my listening skills?
    "Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us! - Nehemiah 4:20

    Blessing BTR-1277S with Bach 3C MP

  2. #2
    Mezzo Forte User Mark_Kindy's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    Gainesville, FL

    Re: Issues with intonation

    If you can have a drone playing a note, play the same note in tune with the drone. Take a tuner out to help with the following:
    Then, bend the pitch flat, and hold, and listen.
    Then, bend the pitch sharp, and hold and listen.

    This will at least help you recognize when a pitch is sharp or flat, relative to a drone, if you do it regularly.
    Over time, your ears start to tune in, and sometimes you can tell when you're particularly sharp or flat even without a drone.
    Ness likes this.
    Mark Kindy - University of Florida
    Life is like a trumpet - if you don't put anything into it, you don't get anything out of it. --
    William Christopher Handy
    Edwards Gen II - Bach 3C, Asymmetric Lead/Schlike 13a4a Heavyweight

  3. #3
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    Dec 2011

    Re: Issues with intonation

    In order to play in tune you have to hear the note in tune. If the imagined beautiful sound in your head is flat. Then your going to play flat. If it's sharp then your going to play sharp. Mark is on the money. Get the correct pitch in your head and keep it there. Learn to be able to see the note on the page and be able to sing that note. If I say sing a "G" and you sing a "G" your on the right track. The trumpet is a very interesting instrument. It requires a lot and I mean a lot of mental activity. If you are not mentally exhausted after a practice session you are doing something wrong. Just so I am not taken out of context. Not thinking about breathing, where my mouthpiece is etc. That is not where your mind should be. It should be in the sound and the sound only. Get the beautiful sound in your head and let it sing through the horn.
    Best Wishes
    Mark_Kindy likes this.

  4. #4
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: Issues with intonation

    I will take a different approach.

    Intonation is ALWAYS relative - to someone else that you are playing with. We learn to play in tune by playing with people better than ourselves (like teachers....). Using a tuner for more than the first tuning note is USELESS as wind instrument players do not tune "well tempered" like a piano.

    I will say that playing in tune is most quickly learned by ear. Simple duets, try to get the fullest sound. The rest becomes obvious very soon.

    Drones are also a possibility, BUT you need a teachers guidance to know what to listen for.

    Use a tuner and you will always be out of tune.
    richtom and mgcoleman like this.
    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

  5. #5
    Moderator Utimate User Vulgano Brother's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
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    Re: Issues with intonation

    Easy question, Ness! Pull or push in your slide--if the intonation gets better, you've made the correct guess. If it gets worse, you'll know right away, and can adjust accordingly.

    Kudos for caring!
    Al Innella likes this.
    "A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
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  6. #6
    Utimate User Dale Proctor's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Heart of Dixie

    Re: Issues with intonation

    I sometimes have the same problem if there are a lot of people playing at the same time. I can hear that something's off, but I can't tell if it's sharp or flat, or if it's even me! During the melee, I will stick a finger in my left ear while playing - you can then hear yourself better while still hearing the ensemble (it also throws a good dose of self-doubt into the players around you if they know what you're doing...they will assume that they are out of tune). Then, if it's me that sounds out of tune, I lip it a little either way to determine which way to go.

    If I'm practicing and certain notes sound out of tune, I'll stop and play octaves of the note(s). If they aren't in tune with each other, it's a little easier to tell whether the offending note is sharp or flat. Failing that, I pull out a tuner and check the note. Never play while watching a tuner, though, especially while playing in an ensemble. Tuning is transient thing, dependent on the ensemble and even the chords in the music you're playing. Listening as you play and making small lip adjustments when needed is the way to play in tune. Learning to tell sharp from flat will come with time and practice.
    Olde Towne Brass

    Brass Band of Huntsville

    Trumpet: 1976 Bach Stradivarius ML 43, Curry 3C.
    Cornet: 1993 Bach Stradivarius L 184G, Curry 3BBC.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2008

    Re: Issues with intonation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vulgano Brother View Post

    Kudos for caring!
    Good point. There are lots of people (even in some of the better groups I've played with) who don't even think about being in tune (or not). THOSE are the people that you will be adjusting to when you play.

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