How to become a better brass player.

SilentWriter By SilentWriter, 17th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/o57h809d/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Learning An Instrument

Do you play a brass instrument and want to become better at it? Here are some tips for you!

The Top Tips

Posture

Before even holding your instrument, you need to make sure that you’re sitting properly. You should sit up tall with your back straight and shoulders relaxed, with your feet flat on the floor slightly apart. This way, you will be able to use your lungs the way they were intended, and you will not feel as though your lungs are ’squashed.’ It’s easy, particularly with smaller instruments, to develop a bad posture. Because of this, if you find that you have a bad posture, you should try doing 10-15 minutes practice per day infront of a mirror. This way, you will find that you can see when you’re sitting in a bad position, and will be able to correct it hopefully before you get into many bad habits.
Your Instrument

To be able to play at your best, your instrument needs to be at its best as well. You should make sure that your valves/slides are all oiled and greased, and can all move with ease. As well as this, you should give the inside of the instrument a good clean every couple of weeks. If there is dirt inside the instrument, it won’t play to its full potential, and you may not be able to improve at the rate you should be able to. You should make sure that it is shiny also, as if you are playing a good looking instrument, you will be more likely to play it properly and well.

One word of advice though is to not use metal cleaner for the outside of gold instruments, as it might remove the laquer and it will become dull.
Practice

You will have heard this one to death, but seriously, the trick to becoming a better player is to practice every day. The time spent practicing should build up from about 10 minutes per day as a beginner to a couple of hours a day as a professional player.
Even if you have a couple of days away from your practice, you may find that your lip never improves its stamina, and may bruise easily. You may find it beneficial also to practice a couple of times a day, rather than just one long practice session.
What to Practice and When

If you don’t have ‘The Cornet Method’ by Arban, you have to get it, now. No matter which brass instrument you play, this book contains every technique you could possibly need to improve as a player. It also contains 14 solos at the back of the book which incorporates the techniques which the book has taught you.

You should practice for about 15 minutes each morning, just using your lower register. Perhaps you could use this time to practice tonguing techniques, and, as you develop, using the time to also practice double and triple tonguing. In this session, you should not attempt to raise above your lowest octave, as it will allow your lip muscles to warm up. In your second session, you should be working on a piece, as well as other techniques. If you are practicing your high register, you should use lip slurs, starting at your lowest register and then gradually getting higher, stopping as soon as it becomes uncomfortable. You will find that, in time, your register will improve.

Against what you may be told by other people, I would not recommend that you continue to play once you feel that your lip is becoming uncomfortable. While some players believe that this can improve your technique, I believe that it can lead to actually having a constant bruised lip, meaning that your practice may be doing more damage that good. As long as you practice regularly, you will improve.
How to Perfect Tricky Passages

If you have hard bits in a particular piece that you’re trying to learn, you should first practice them very slowly. It doesn’t matter how slow you have to go, you can gradually build the speed up as you learn the notes. It’s much, much easier to get your head around the fingering for tricky passages when you’re working through it slowly, meaning that you will be able to perfect it much more quickly than if you try to do it all at the actual speed right from the beginning. If it’s the fingering you’re having trouble with, just run it through without actually playing. This way, you can save your stamina for when you need it. If it’s the articulation, then try practicing it over and over again on a comfortable note before you try to use the actual notes written.
Transposition

No matter who we are, we’re going to have to transpose some music at some point in our lives. I’m not going to do a tutorial on that here, but I can recommend how to put it into practice.

You must have a lot of easy tune books from when you first started playing. If you do, then these are the ideal things to use when learning to transpose! You could play the tunes up a perfect fifth for example, or down a third. You could use any interval you wanted, and it’s extra easy if you know the tunes already, as you know what they’re supposed to sound like.
You can then gradually build your knowledge and go for harder and harder pieces, and you will soon find that you can read pretty much anything at any interval you might have to.

Tags

Band, Brass, Cornet, Flugel, Flugelhorn, Flugle, Instruction, Instrument, Instruments, Learn, Student, Teacher, Trombone, Trumpet

Meet the author

author avatar SilentWriter
I am a 21 year old girl doing a degree in Psychology :-).

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