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Thread: Tips & Critiques - Bordogni's Melodious Etudes #2

  1. #1

    Tips & Critiques - Bordogni's Melodious Etudes #2

    Wondered if anyone would like to drop some comments, tips or critiques to help me improve my playing, based on this excerpt I tried out.

    Wasn't sure if I should share this, since I know I messed up the high A near the end. But I really wanted to know what aspects of playing I need to work on more, I guess.

  2. #2
    I don’t have much in the way of critiques, because of my inexperience. I thought you played well. If I had any tips for you, it would be to not worry about presenting a perfect recording, especially if you are looking for critical feedback.
    Clayton M.
    Musician for Fun
    Euphonium Newbie - XO 1270S
    Trumpet Novice - XO 1602RS

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    Good on you, Christiane!

    A bit of Rochut for me every session, too.

    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original

  4. First of all, you did really great in this recording.

    When you play for somebody and ask for them to critique you in hopes of furthering your musicianship, I think it's important to realize that missing a note isn't something the listener cares about too much. Sometimes we mess up, but saying "oh you missed this note here" won't help anyone because they already know that. However, what will help someone is telling them why they missed that note or why they keep missing it. It's about improving the player's approach to the music.

    Having said that, I noticed that you and I have similar tendencies in our playing. From what I have been working on, and from what I have learned, one thing that will help you is using more air (kind of a "duh" statement). When you play an interval that's on the larger side of things, don't shy away. Use more air, blow through the note, and be very confident on where the second note is. From the recording it doesn't seem like you're struggling to hear the pitches before you play them, but if you really just blow through the notes, it will sound much smoother.

    The other thing that has been helping me a tremendous amount is Sing it, Buzz it, Play it. If you have spots in the music that you consistently mess up on, break the problem down. Remove the horn from the equation entirely, and just sing the phrase. Use a piano to help you find the pitches. Then when you feel comfortable, add the mouthpiece. Buzz the pitches, but take your time to make sure you are hearing them correctly. The final step - play it! Often times, you will notice immediate improvement.

    Hope this helps!
    T.J. Davis

    Wessex Dolce
    G&W Kadja

  5. #5
    Great job! You sound good. I would offer that I would use more air on the lower notes and watch the volume overall not making the high notes much louder than the lower etc. You don't want to disappear on the lower notes. Also, don't be afraid to be more expressive. You have a nice sound so be yourself when playing. Thanks for sharing.
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  6. #6
    If you were in my lesson studio, I'd tell you that's a great place to be, to start. Since you're brave enough to put this out there, I'll give you my honest take. Meant to direct you to what to work on, not to discourage. I'd welcome a player of your ability in my studio. "So, let's get to work."

    You kept time well. That is good. And hard to teach. Clear notes, and you don't overuse vibrato. Good for developing control.
    Good tone. You have a bit of reverb on the recording or in the room. If you record yourself a little "dryer" without reverb, you'll hear other things.

    Next thing I would ask you to do is vary the volume. I hear phrases that start middle and end are the same volume and intensity. So they phrase does not have a strong musical direction, it's unemotional which is the same as being not very musical. So you don't sound like a technician but as a musician, you can add dynamic markings and crescendos not in the original. I sometimes add a directional arrow or asterisk in pencil to remind where or what note I'm aiming for as the peak of the phrase. Not always the last note. These etudes are overall marked legato everywhere. Be mindful of what the composer wanted, but also look for ways to expression. At least, you can start some phrases more delicately or more forcefully to vary the effect. Experiment with different volumes and articulations for effect.

    For an example, check out Toby Oft's recording, on trombone.

    You might hear a little retard or pause (tenuto) at the end or climax some phrases. Check out his 2:20. He'll drop down in volume and build up to the next phrase or section. He'll had vibrato to a longer note after a beat or two. You might hear him pause (tenuto) on the second to last note. He might put a little weight on the first note of an ornamentation. Check out the end of his performance, he really rallentando and peaks quite strongly and then reigns in the volume to a gentle lullaby at the end.

    I think his performance is quite good but still a bit conservative. I can imagine a player doing even more to build up the musicality of the performance.

    Second, in you're regular routine, I would work long tone and lip slurs in the low range. I heard a bit a fuzz or lack of center when you slurred down like 1:20. Good to bridge your mid range, which sounds pretty clear, to your low range. When you slur down, like middle Bb F low Bb, you might crescendo. To bridge to mid range, mid Bb F low Bb F mid Bb. Same for a descending then ascending arpeggio. like Bb Ab F D low B D F Ab Bb.

    The phrase that ends at 1:39, I think you're out of air. Both: take in a bigger tank of air to start, and look for a place in that phrase where you can "sip" a bit of air (try through the nose, which keeps the mouthpiece in place for such a short breath) so you have the air to finish the phrase. Give that last note a little more body, not short. I heard a few ends of phrases that lacked air support and ended up clipped. Out of gas. You start good (Good!) and then sometimes end weak. So think about how you can have the same quality on the last note as any note in the middle of the same passage. In general, I hear less air/support towards the end of the recording, and I'll guess that added to a couple chipped notes. Mark your breaths in the etude. Add small breaths if needed. Continue to work capacity to play longer phrases. 1:13 sounded a bit flat, maybe air but also maybe need an alternate fingering. BTW, I find that adding direction to a passage with some dynamics often increases my capacity and ability to end phrases. I think my air is just more focused and purposeful.

    For the upper range, continue working on notes above that higher note you sometimes chip. Sing. You don't need to be Pavarotti but singing the tune, checking notes on a piano, just to get the note and interval in your head. You might be thinking "up" to that note because you are coming at it from lower notes, and like jumping to dunk a basket ball you might come up short. So it sounds weaker and flat. Rather, think "through the middle" of that target note. Sing and play the note in isolation, then in short scales and arpeggios that peak at that note, then back to the passage.

    Maybe get the Bordogni piano accompaniment part and practice with a piano player or the duet versions for an ensemble experience.

    You off to a good start on this etude, and that reflects, I think, some good practice. Thank you for putting this out there for us to hear. Best

  7. #7
    I agree with the suggestion on getting the piano accompaniments. I have all of them on my hard drive, and working with them is very useful in learning how to play the etudes like an actual piece of music, and not just . . . an etude.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

  8. #8
    Thank you so much, everyone. For the kind words, tips and critiques! I appreciate them a lot, especially Brassedon for taking the time to break things down!

    I never had a teacher all these while, and had to self-learn while in high school, so I don't think I ever had the privilege of having being instructed or had my playing critiqued. The closest critique I had was from my first and only audition, where the director (a saxophone player and conductor) said to do more long tones and strengthen my embouchure. The other times were mostly "Euphoniums, you are out of tune". Somehow, my 2 fellow Euphonium players in the community band rarely did share their knowledge too (a little Asian social awkwardness haha).

    Thank you again! Will digest what has been said and incorporate them in my practices!

    About the reverb, good point! I forgot about that. I've been practicing in a multi level car park, mostly for privacy and safety since I practice in the morning. The only other 2 places I think I have to practice are my room (though I can't play too loud as my neighbours are just at the other side of my room's wall.) and in the middle of the field.

    Hmm... should I be practicing more in "drier" places? So that my tone won't be overshadowed by reverbs and echos?
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euph)"

    Euph: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ChristianeSparkle View Post
    Hmm... should I be practicing more in "drier" places? So that my tone won't be overshadowed by reverbs and echos?
    Now and then it's a good thing. Practicing outside works well for this. It also helps encourage you to support your tone, because you instinctively want to "hear more" once you no longer get room reflections. But I consider that more of an exercise than a long-term method.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by ChristianeSparkle View Post
    Thank you so much, everyone. For the kind words, tips and critiques! I appreciate them a lot, especially Brassedon for taking the time to break things down!

    About the reverb, good point! I forgot about that. I've been practicing in a multi level car park, mostly for privacy and safety since I practice in the morning. The only other 2 places I think I have to practice are my room (though I can't play too loud as my neighbours are just at the other side of my room's wall.) and in the middle of the field.

    Hmm... should I be practicing more in "drier" places? So that my tone won't be overshadowed by reverbs and echos?
    Glad to do it!

    I love how my horns sound when my ensembles perform in a church or nice hall. And if I get there early, I can play intervals with myself, like playing roots and 5ths D and A to hear the interval for tuning. But it's a bit of a magic mirror that flatters me no matter how I look. "You are the fairest in all the land." I play my euph and tuba at home in my room, carpet and low ceiling. Pretty dry but hard reflection off ceiling, not pleasant but "honest"; that's often where I record myself but my great room has a higher ceiling and bit less harsh. When I'm at band rehearsal, the room is cavernous but with carpet and I think that is my "real" performance sound. And when I perform in a theater or amphitheater, they are very different experiences. It is good to play in different places and outdoors to understand how you need to adjust, or with outside, how to play without as much aural feedback.

    If I am recording myself to hear nuances in my performance, then having a dryer location is better. It is easier to hear the releases and attacks, the intonation is not hidden by the echo. If I'm using a recorder or GarageBand I turn off all the effects.

    Playing in an actual parking garage, that is dedication. In middle school, my sister (flute) HATED my trombone playing. Frankly, I sucked. So I played in the backyard. I bet the neighbors were not pleased. And the basement with the spiders. But always I had to find a place to play. In high school it was a music storage room. In college it was outdoors but sometimes the organ room was unlocked and empty on the Sunday mornings because the organists all had church gigs. Later, I worked at a theme park with a now well-known tubist. Outside the breakroom was a cinderblock hut where they stored chunks of oak wood for one of the restaurants for grilling. Literally, he wood-shedded in a woodshed. Sweaty and hot, he grinded through flexibility exercises, pedal notes, and excerpts. I mean hours a day between our show sets. When I traveled as a musician, if I had time I'd break away to the nearest college campus, act like I belonged there, and looked for an empty classroom or practice room. You gotta get in your practice. So never give up on your carpark.

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