Ask a trumpet player if he would rather play the lead part of Thad Jones´ ballad To You twice in a row, or have a sex change surgery! This tune is a great example on demanding static playing – lots of long, soft notes and few breaks to relax the lips.
When practicing a brass instrument, I make the distinction between static and dynamic exercises. Static exercices are based on long notes and slow legato lines with the lips constantly vibrating. This slowly build up lactic acid in the muscles controlling the lips, and make them stiff and numb. Dynamic exercices at the other hand, are built up around shorter notes, variation, staccato phrases and more space between the notes. Continue reading →
Monday morning in the practice room? This is a great little exercise to get the chops going when you first pick up your horn that day. The key to all brass playing is in the air flow, and the key to a good air flow can often be found by working on a full, overtone rich sound in the medium to medium low range.
In this exercisee, I focus on F (below key hole-C) an augmented fourth down to B.* Many players have a hard time getting this register to sound as good as the rest of the middle range. One of the reasons is that the sound waves of the fifth in any given slide position doesn´t fit the instrument as goods as the fundamental on the same position (for example F versus Bb on 1st position). Continue reading →
Practicing low range with a small mouthpiece
If you are working on the low range, consider doing the exercises you work on, on a smaller mouthpiece, or even on a smaller trombone if you play on a large bore tenor or bass trombone. Why? Well, playing a smaller mouthpiece makes it even more important to have the airflow centered in order to get the full sound. Big instruments and mouthpieces tend to be more forgiving if your embouchure and/or air flow isn´t dead on. You can test yourself: play a few notes in the low mid / low range in f on your large equipment. Now do the same with a smaller mouthpiece/trombone. Can you get the full sound out of it, or does it feels like it “locks up”? Of course, a big fff low E on a small bore horn with a 12C mouthpiece wont sound that great, but in general, you Continue reading →
You might know the feeling, playing all those scale patterns one half tone up at the time… Seven keys to go ands the lips already feel as flexible as a train rail track!
There are lots of exercises where you gradually expand the range, and end up playing in either the extreme high or low register. I will give you a little but effective tip how to get the most out of those exercises, without busting your chops.
Expand from the middle
The solution is simple, make sure that you start in the middle range, and work your way both up and down from there. Mixing high and low range both save chops, and helps you to play with the same embouchure in all registers. This mouthpiece exercise works this way. Continue reading →
This exercise is intended to help you expand your range with full control of the embouchure. It is designed to let you start in a comfortable mid range, and work your way both up and down, making sure that your lips are prepared to play in any register at all times. I like the idea of expanding the range both up and down in the same exercise, as it helps you keep the embouchure in place, as well as you “warm down” a little between the high range pats of the exercises.
Your focus should be to keep the same lip position on the mouthpiece, regardless of the register you play in. The only change should be Continue reading →
Here´s some more triads to play around with. Check out this trombone lesson for the background of this exercise. I suggest that you try to come up with some more exercises in this style, and practise them without sheet music. There are some quite interesting melodic lines out there to be explored! Continue reading →
Do you have the feeling sometimes that the instrument doesn´t taste as good as it use to, and that the lips just wont buzz the way you want them to? In 92,8% of the time, there is nothing wrong with the lips, and the problem is air flow, or the lack of it. Continue reading →
This exercise is a result of me being bored with some of the standard flexibility patterns. The solution was to change position for every note but still follow the pattern of the exercise. The output sounds really strange, but it´s fun to play! Continue reading →