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Thread: Tone

  1. Tone

    So I have been playing long tones and listening to my tone trying to improve it for a few months and have seen little improvement. My high range is decent but could use work and my middle to low range sounds weak and empty. What are some things I should be doing to improve my tone, such as excersizes or playing tips, thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    You say you've been playing long tones. Lip slurs help too hitting all - or most of the partials.

    To get a good full tone you need to use support in the diaphragm. I hate to use the word 'tighten' but maybe the word 'firm' is more accurate. You need to firm up your diaphragm for good support to have a good tone. Also, lower your soft pallet like when the Doc tells you to say, "Ah". I also liken it to using a garden hose with no nozzle where you need to use your thumb to get the water to shoot out further. There's more pressure in the hose to help get the water out further. Similar with tone and projection.

    Here's a link to a friend of mine, Carlyle Weber, who used to play in the U.S. Army Field Band. He's now retired after 23 years but when this video was made he had been in for over 21 years due to the hash marks. He demonstrates playing Holst Suite No. 2 (March) solo in three different ways... one with an okay sound, one supported, then the last one with a legato tongue as Fredrick Fennell recommends.

    Tuba and Euphonium: The individual and the Ensemble


    Hope this helps.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernández) cell phone video

  3. #3
    A full tone demands an instrument full of air. Try practicing at louder volumes (with good sound of course!) and practicing filling up the room. After you are comfortable doing that, the practice of controlling the sound could help lead to a stronger sound.

    There was a great exercise in the Remington Warm-up for security in the high range that might help. Basically, playing up a scale one quarter note per measure, at forte-fortissimo, but on a breath attack. Similar to imagining you are saying "Hell" supported in the diaphragm.

  4. Thank you I will try both of those things

  5. #5
    My junior-high-school band director told me to "fill the horn" as I played (meaning with air and tone). That's not quite physically what we do, but the mental image helped me support my tone better. FWIW.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
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    I just remembered what my trumpet teacher told me to do back when I was 12 to produce a good tone. He said to drop my jaw like i had a golf ball in my mouth. This made the oral cavity very large. His name was Howard Sickler and studied with Renold Schilke in Chicago. Howard had a wonderful tone and lived to be 97, bless his soul.
    Last edited by RickF; 01-23-2019 at 10:36 PM.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernández) cell phone video

  7. #7
    Sometimes we get blinded by the day-to-day grind we fail to see improvements we've been making. I bet if you compared a recording before you started practicing Long Tones to now you'd notice a difference. Long Tones are your Wheaties and you gotta just keep eating, every day. When I was an undergrad I felt the same way you did at the 6-7 month mark - "these exercises are pointless, I don't hear anything different". At 9 months the college band director told me he noticed SUCH a marked improvement in my sound and at 12 months I won a scholarship for the next year. Just keep at it and it WILL pay off. Maybe one day try them at a different dynamic level - try to use Long Tones to improve an aspect of your sound you don't like. For me it was a thinness in my sound and I just played long tones until I could sustain without that thinness. I also had a problem with consistency - I'd start a tone ragged and couldn't hold it for 8 counts with any sort of consistency. So I just started working on that, every day trying to be a BIT more consistent. Some days it felt like I wasn't doing any improvement but only when I had juries the next year and the jurors all said "WOW you've been improving so much! Such a difference!" - And really all I was doing was long tones and Rochut.
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D

  8. #8
    I whole heartedly agree with long tones. And I would go further and find a book of ballads or some slow melodies that you can play. This will make enduring the long tones more endurable. Do long tones on scales, chromatic, major, minor, all of them. Keep at it, you will improve!
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

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