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Thread: Tone help

  1. #1

    Unhappy Tone help

    I am a sophomore in high school, and my tone is awful. Yesterday I was recording myself playing to hear how I sound, and it was just sad. I sound very brittle, weak, and airy. I have a Yamaha Neo(brand new this got it this summer) with trigger, and I play on an Steven Mead SM5. If you have any sort of exercises that can help with tone that would be great. Thanks. Edit: I hope I posted in the right spot, I'm still relatively new to the forum sort of.

  2. #2
    Advice is easy enough! Your equipment should be able to get a good sound, so we can move on from that.

    Sometimes the room you are in will make you sound crumby not matter what you do. If it is all hard surfaces and small, that could be part of it.

    Regardless, the following is good advice. Find some recording in your collection or on YouTube of euphonium players you like. Choose 2 or 3 SLOW songs they play that are easily within your ability. Listen them the recording for about 2-4 bars and then try to sound like that. Repeat until you have improved your sound to some extent. Then move on through the piece that way. Gradually start trying to imitate the entire song.

    Use a tuner and make sure you are not climbing in pitch after the horn is fully warm. If your chops start pushing higher, your sound thins. While you are at it look at my article on testing intonation. Fool around a bit with the technique to make sure you are playing in the note's center (sweet spot):

    Use "warm air" as you play whenever possible. In other words, keep your jaw and chops from getting too closed/tight.

    During warm up be sure to spend much time in the low register. Also use some long tones, and on each one start soft, cresc. to loud, and dim. back to soft.
    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

  3. Welcome! First off, don't be discouraged! It's great you're recording yourself, it's a fantastic way to stay honest with yourself and really see how you would sound to a listener. It's a great practice tool, so definitely keep doing it! You'll really be able to hear your improvement as well.

    In addition to the great advice Mr. Werden posted above, here are some more suggestions: If you are coming to your new Neo from a smaller, non-compensating instrument, there's the chance you may still be adjusting to the new horn. Like all compensating euphs, it's a larger bore than most student horns, with more tubing and thus takes more air to really fill out the sound.

    Try out some different breathing exercises such as those from The Breathing Gym book by Sam Pilafian and Pat Sheridan, and Steven Mead also has a series of online mini-masterclass videos on YouTube that you may find helpful. I would recommend doing some exercises every day (not for too long, maybe a few minutes) to help develop a habit to taking deep, relaxed, open breaths with a smooth turnaround from the inhale to the exhale, which will directly benefit your playing and your sound.

    A couple different exercises that you can use to help develop your sound (there are certainly more, and I'm sure others here will chime in with additional suggestions): Long tones such as those by Emory Remington (starting on bass clef tuning Bb, descending by slurred halfsteps in the following pattern, in slow whole notes): Bb-A, Bb-Ab, Bb-G, Bb-F. Then same pattern starting on F in the staff: F-E, F-Eb, F-D, etc. down to low Bb. You can extend it down to pedal Bb as well. The goal is taking a full, relaxed breath, and focusing on filling out the sound of the starting note, sustaining that for the full whole note, then "pouring" that same quality of sound into the next note. The Remington Daily Routine has a great set of exercises in addition to the long tones (lip slurs, flexibilities, tonguing, range, etc) that are great to help develop your sound, but your overall ability on the euphonium. Here's pdf I found with the set of exercises:

    Buzzing on the mouthpiece can be beneficial as well, buzzing simple tunes you know by ear or along with a piano, again focusing on a full, resonant buzz and glissing between the notes. The gliss helps connect the air between each note, which will help the notes sound fuller and more connected on the horn. Since the buzzing is what is basically amplified through the the instrument into the sound that comes out the bell, the more open, resonant and musical the buzz is, in turn the more open and resonant your sound will be on the euphonium.

    Seconding what Mr. Werden mentioned, listening is a wonderful learning tool! Try to memorize their sound in your head to use as a goal for you to strive towards in your own practice.
    Last edited by Fujiifilm; 12-24-2020 at 04:31 PM. Reason: edited after seeing Mr. Werden's post
    Willson 2900 TA-1 Euphonium - Denis Wick 4AM
    Yamaha YSL-643 Trombone - Bach 5G
    F.E. Olds Special Trombone (ca. 1941) - Faxx 7C

    York Preference 3067 Euphonium - Denis Wick 4AL
    Benge 165F Trombone - Benge Marcellus
    Wessex BR140 Baritone - Denis Wick 6BS

  4. #4
    I would definitely make sure that your horn does not have any leaky water keys or misaligned valves. Those are two things that can easily make your sound airy and diffuse. Also, there is a circular nut where the leadpipe joins the valve block. Make sure that is tight, or else it will leak as well.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, 1952 B&H Imperial Eb Tuba, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

  5. #5
    Thank you guys for the responses! I'm going to take all of these responses and tips into use! Thank you Mr. Werden, Mr. Fujiifilm, and Mr. Sullivan for the responses, I really appreciate it!

  6. I sound very brittle, weak, and airy.
    On trumpet, that would mean your aperture is too large. On euph, is it the same?

    1935 Conn 64I Baritone
    Mouthpieces: Too many to list and growing

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Anderson, Indiana
    If none of the excellent suggestions posted above work, you may wish to have a low brass instructor look at your embouchure. I had a tone quality problem in high school (many years ago), and a skilled teacher discovered that I was rolling out my lips. (I think that was the problem. It's been a while.) He was able to demonstrate correct embouchure and suggested exercises to fix everything. After working on it (with his help), I was able to solve the problem.


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