Teaching Brass Instruments -for the non-brass major- This session is for instrumental music teachers/band directors who are not brass majors, and who desire to become better equipped to teach and train brass players more effectively and successfully. It will include essential practical topics, several of which are not covered in standard lesson books. Presenter: David R. Marowitz, Toms River Regional Schools
Instrument handling Posture Breathing Buzzing Embouchure Mouthpiece Pressure Tone production Tone quality Projecting the sound Tonguing Articulation Range Endurance 16. Pre-Warm-UP 17. Warm-up-Cool Down Daily Embouchure Drills Easier way to start low brass players Choosing mouthpieces Instrument Brands Internet Resources Other resources Teaching tools Role Models 23. YOUR QUESTIONS Teaching Brass Instruments(for non-brass majors) Topics in This Session:
Opening Remarks This session will: • benefit band directors of all grade levels • cover important topics not addressed in lesson books • simplify brass pedagogy for you • show how to bypass unnecessary problems that develop due to improper playing habits by establishing a foundation of proper playing habits • Give you info. & resources to equip you to develop quality brass players • answer individual questions at the end of this session
First Things FirstEar (and nerve) Protection for Teachers • Wear earplugs designed for musicians. • Protects you from tinnitus. • Also takes the edge off your nerves • Westone labs manufactures ear plugs for musicians www.earmold.com
Establishing a Solid Foundation On Which to Build
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is leaning because the ground it sits on is too soft to support the weight of the tower. • The tower started leaning before the third floor was completed in the mid- 1200's, and it has gotten worse and worse slowly ever since. • Brass players need a strong foundation that will support advancing skill or their ongoing development will be limited.
Prelude to Beginning Brass Instruments • Solfeggio -for ear training • Singing in a Chorus -for ear training, time keeping, functioning in an ensemble • Playing the Recorder (flutophone) -to establish foundation in and focus on music fundamentals without having to deal with the technical difficulties of brass instruments.
Handling Instruments Give students photos that demonstrate proper handling of the instrument, posture, embouchure, etc. to imitate during home practice sessions. This promotes quick and accurate learning. (TIP: use pinky ring for holding the trumpet only-NOTwhenplaying) [Click on graphics to be directed to photo example on the web}
Using a Digital Camera • Reinforce proper posture, embouchure, etc. by taking a photo of students in lessons demonstrating proper posture, handling of instrument, embouchure, etc. • They can imitate the photo of themselves at home thereby insuring proper habit development and faster at that.
Posture Students should imitate posture from a photo during home practice sessions.
Breath Supportbagpipes analogy Pipes equivalent to the instrument Bag equivalent to lungs Left arm equivalent to diaphragm muscle (another analogy: squeeze tooth paste from bottom of tooth paste tube)
Breath Support (cont’) • The diaphragm, a very thin but very powerful muscle located directly beneath the lungs, flexes and relaxes, helping to cause the lungs to inflate and deflate. • The expansion and contraction of a blacksmith's bellows perfectly demonstrates this type of breathing motion. • One way to learn this technique is to lie flat on your back, with an object on your stomach, breathe and observe the object as it rises and falls.
Inhaling/Exhaling • Establishing proper breathing technique will prevent problems such as tightness in the neck, grunting in neck, and will produce a better quality tone, endurance, and range. • slide your shoulder blades down toward the ground – not inward but downward. This causes your shoulders to move down and back. As well, it will raise the sternum which opens up the chest cavity • throat muscles relaxed and open (just like when you “yawn”) • inhale and exhale in one continuous motion (forming mouth w/ ‘how”) • visualize your lungs as balloons that are being filled with air. • can breathe through nose for rapid breath when needed
Breathing Exercises sit up tall (or stand) shoulders back with your hands behind your head (forces air to bottom of lungs) Don’t raise shoulders while inhaling. Using a metronome: • Inhale for 8 counts, exhale for 8 counts • Inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts • Inhale for 2 counts, exhale for 2 counts • Variation: • Inhale for 4, exhale for 4 • Inhale for 3, exhale for 4 • Inhale for 2, exhale for 4 • Inhale for 1, exhale for 4 The above exercises teach breath control in addition to learning how to breathe when playing
Mouthpiece Placement CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: • Mouthpiece placed in the horizontal centre of the lips -Trumpet: two-thirds of the mouthpiece on the lower lip and one-third on the upper lip. • French horns: two-thirds on the upper lip and one third on the lower lip. • Tuba: as high on the upper lip as possible.
Mouthpiece Pressure Too Much Pressure Impairs: *flexibility *endurance *range. • can restrict the blood flow to the lips and this could lead to some serious lip trauma • cause a bruised or swollen upper lip. Symptoms of Excessive Lip Pressure Include the Following: • form a “pressure ring” that remains visible on the lips for more than 20 minutes after the student has finished playing. • much less endurance than classmates do at approximately the same level of development. • thin tone in the upper register.
Forming the EmbouchureIntroduction RULE of THUMB Take into account that works best for one individual player will not always work best for another. Unique difference in teeth, lip shape and texture, the jaw, and other anatomical factors will affect how the brass player's embouchure will work at its most efficient. Must take into account the physical characteristics of the individual.
Forming the Embouchure 1. Flat chin. ( tell students to think of pointing their chins toward the ground.) • Place mouthpiece upon the lips that are moist and firmed keeping all of the red of the lips inside the cup of the mouthpiece. (think “mmm”). • Firm mouth corners.Relax your jaw, face and all of the muscles in and around your lip area. When you are relaxed, begin to firm the corners of the mouth • Teeth apart (about the same as the width of a mouthpiece shank. Inverting the mouthpiece and placing it between the teeth makes for a good way to check the distance.) • The throat is to be open at all times. • Bottom lip slightly curled in lips together as if saying the letter “m”. Do not to tense your lips and chin as you play. This will "pinch" the sound. Click below for: for: • Solutions for embouchure problems: • Tips for Fixing Embouchure Problems • Self Appraisal
DON’T PUFF CHEEKS! GOOD BAD OUCH! practice in front of a mirror to check embouchure, posture and prevent puffing of cheeks
BUZZING THE LIPS • Lips are comparable to a double reed. A good double reed will have a good crow which will produce a good sound. A vibrant buzz will produce a good sound. • Buzzing practice is invaluable in the development of embouchure control, flexibility, and a clear and focused sound • Can cause tone problems to improve • Make a clear and focused sound when buzzing.
Schilke Buzzing Routine 1. buzz lips (moisten lips first) 2.buzz lips into mouthpiece: • gently place mouthpiece on buzzing lips without interrupting the buzz at all. • If the buzz stops in the process, stop, then start over. • Use diaphragm muscle to expel air and hold out pitch until out of air. 3.Repeat # 2 with mouthpiece in the instrument
Schilke Buzzing Routine WILL: cause lips to align properly to cause free unhindered buzzing cause student to find their proper mouthpiece placement on their lips produce a good sound and will prevent splitting, cracked tones PROMOTES AVOIDING COMMON EMBOUCHURE PROBLEMS SUCH AS: Too much mouthpiece pressure Air "Choking" tendencies (closing the larynx and restricting air flow), which are frequently accompanied by "grunting. Lips not freely buzzing causing player to twist mouthpiece to bring lips together to buzz Bunched chin (impossible to do when buzzing lips without the mouthpiece. Smile embouchure (stretched lips tend to produce a thin, hard tone, endurance also suffers)
Anatomy of Tone Production • INHALE: through mouth corners w/ lips “just touching” • ATTACK: (tongue) • DURATION:(open throat, breath support, steady tone) • RELEASE:(stop note by stopping air flow, NOT with tongue)
Quality Tone Quality • Develop a strong mental image of good tone quality (Listen to professionals) • Open throat when playing; blow air as if they were fogging a glass (ask student to blow warm air at their hand). The syllable “hoe” will often create this effect • In the beginning when students are producing a tone with proper fundamentals give them long tones and rhythm exercises to for home practice to strengthen their lip and facial muscles
Projecting The Sound • Pick a spot on the wall across the room or a person in the back row at a concert, and “aim” your sound there. • Always aim to produce the most beautiful sound you can. • Learn to project the sound at all dynamic levels • Blow “through the instrument”
TONGUING • “too” or “toe" middle register) • “tee” (upper register) • tah or taw (lower register) • blow past the tongue • do not stop the note with the tongue. Stop the note by stopping the air. Click here for tonguing exercises
A tense tongue leads to: late note beginnings, explosive note beginnings inhibited speed at which articulation can be executed. A relaxed tongue: will prevent excessive jaw movement or "chewing" which results in a heavy, thuddy kind of note beginning. ARTICULATION • Don’t “attack" any notes. Think instead of "pronouncing" the notes by saying the word "too“ or “Toe”. • Lower jaw functions in slurring precisely as it does in • strict articulation. It will open or close depending on • the register and the pattern of the slur group.
Overtone/Harmonic Series • lower pitches loosen center of lips tonguing syllable: “Taw” • middle range pitches tonguing syllable: “Too” or “toe”” • higher pitches move lips to the center as if to pucker, lower lip in tonguing syllable: “Tee”
WARM-UP To prepare lips muscles for playing and reinforce proper playing habits Warm up softly and slowly Include lip buzzing, long tones, lip slurs, tonguing, finger (slide exercises Pay attention to reinforcing: proper posture, handling of instrument, breathing, breath support, buzzing, etc. COOL-DOWN to relax lip muscles Pedal tones are a great lip massage and will relax the muscles. Play long tones softly on low pitches Makes lip more responsive the next day Warm Up/Cool Down
Endurance • Break up practice time into shorter periods, resting as much as you play so you do not do more harm than good. • “Rest as much as you play” • Endurance Exercise a) Play a musical selection stop when beginning to feel tired and rest. b) Continue to play from where you left off. c) Continue this process until selection completed d) Done daily and will enable to play for longer periods without stopping for rest.
RANGE • Do not erect psychological fears/blocks by telling students that certain notes are “high notes”. • To expand in either direction, keep a good sound, a consistent sound, and move slowly, chromatically at first until each pitch has the same good quality sound. Pianos are a good example of consistent sound throughout all registers • Gradually expand to wider intervals, arpeggios, then wider. When something is too difficult back up to what you can do, and try again. • Must rest frequently when doing range expansion exercises Click Here for Range Exercise Range Development Info.
Putting it All Together inThe “Bull Pen”(pre-warm-up for brass instruments)
STEP ONE: Stretching Exercises • Neck rolls b. shoulder shrugs USING A METRONOME: STEP TWO: a) inhale (stand, with hands on back of head), fill belly with air in 8 counts b) exhale completely, buzzing the lips; (repeat with 4 counts , then 2 counts) STEP THREE : repeat STEP TWO except buzz lips into the mouthpiece STEP FOUR: repeat STEP TWO except buzz lips into mouthpiece whichisintheinstrument • WHEN INHALING/EXHALING: • -no tension except in buttocks • open throat as in a yawn • don’t raise shoulders • when inhalingform mouth as if saying “HOW”
Mouthcorner Breathing: STEP FIVE : a) set up embouchure as if saying “mmm” b) breathe through mouth corners while maintaining center of upper & lower lips touching c. buzz lips* *(1st time without mouthpiece, 2nd time with mouthpiece) STEP SIX: repeat STEP FIVE except with the instrument: 1st time: produce a tone with breath *(“haa”) attack 2nd time: produce a tone with a tongue (“toe”) attack ----------- • NOW DO DAILY WARM-UP ROUTINE (including long tones, lip slurs, flexibility, tonguing, technique, according to student ability, then to music) • END PRACTICE SESSION WITH A “COOL DOWN”
Daily Embouchure Drills(next three slides) Includes: Long Tones (for muscle building and tone improvement) Lip slurs (for flexibility and tone) Intervals (for ear training and flexibility) For Best Results: Play slowly and rest after each line (remove mpc. from lips.) When student masters Level One, replace with Level Two for daily warm-up (etc.) While playing, concentrate on proper breathing, mouthpiece placement, mouth corner inhaling and attack as done in “The Bull Pen”. Aim for a quality tone.
Daily Practice Routine Outline • Stretching (head rolls, shoulder shrugs) • Imitate photo (for posture, inst. handling, etc.) • Pre-Warm-Up (breathing/buzzing exercises) • Daily Warm-Up (containing long tones, lip slurs, tonguing, and flexibility) • Lesson of the Week (include basic skills: rhythm reading development, technique, time keeping [use metronome], song/solo playing, ensemble music)
. Starting Low Brass Players
french horn • start french horn students on mellophone • switch them to F Horn when they have a command of the fundamentals of playing and the overtone series music mellophone (bell front) mellophone alto horn (altonium)
Trombone • Begin young trombone students on trombone with F attachment. This eliminates need to use 6th & 7th positions • Special Considerations for Trombone: • Slide positions and intonation • Slide movement w/ flexible wrist • Remington exercises custom modified or https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/echasano/www/warmups.pdffor your intermediate to advanced trombone student
Tuba • start young tuba students on baritone (bass clef) • and switch to tuba when student is physically able
MOUTHPIECES • Importance of an appropriate size mouthpiece • Get better mouthpiece before going to a better instrument • When moving up to a better quality mouthpiece, audition several brands and sizes • Know what kind of sound, you want to produce and seek the mouthpiece that will help produce that sound
Anatomy of a Brass Mouthpiece • RimWide: Increases endurance.Narrow: Improves flexibility.Round: Improves comfort.Sharp: Increases precision of attack. • CupLarge: Increases volume, control.Small: Relieves fatigue, weakness.Deep: Darkens tone, especially in low register. Shallow: Brightens tone, improves response, especially in high register. • ThroatLarge: Increases blowing freedom, volume, tone; sharpens high register (largest sizes also sharpen low register).Small: Increases resistance, endurance, brilliance; flattens high register. • BackboreCombinations of size and shape make the tone darker or brighter, raise or lower the pitch in one or more registers, increase or decrease volume. The backbore's effects depends in part also on the throat and cup.
SELECTING A BRASS MOUTHPIECE • “How to Select a Brass Mouthpiece” by Reynold Schilke • All About Brass Mouthpieces • Mouthpiece Comparison Charts • Mouthpiece Brands • Mouthpiece Suggestions