I was facing my Senior year as one of two tuba players in a band of 70+ musicians. (The other player had just joined the advanced band after learning to play tuba the previous year in beginning band. This would be his second year on tuba.) I knew I would have to play louder.
My director, Mr. Hodge, was also the brass caption head of the drum and bugle corps that I would be marching with that Summer. We worked on breathing exercises and the proper way to move air through my horn. I knew that I would need to support my high school band, who was full of extremely talented musicians. I knew that I would need to be technically correct as well as loud in order to earn respect in the Corps I was preparing to march with. There aren’t an abundance of girl brass players in drum corps, especially in Contra lines and I would have to hold my own.
Here are some tips to pump up your playing.
* Warm up properly. Don’t start out by playing as loud and high as you can.
* Use warm air.
* Use breathing exercises like the Breathing Gym. (Patrick Sheridan and Sam Pilifian)
* Practice loud. Practice the way you want to perform. If you don’t practice above a mezzo forte, it will be difficult for you to perform fortissmo passages with endurance.
* If possible, practice outside. It will make you instinctively play louder.
* While practicing long tones, start softly then crescendo to the top of your volume and then decrescendo back to pianissimo in one breath. Work on making the top of your crescendo louder each time.
* Relax! Tensing up while playing will only restrict your air capacity and will adversely effect your tone.
Note: If your tone becomes uncontrolled, unfocused, harsh or spready, you’re playing too loud. You should be able to control your sound and play in tune. Blasting is the point that your volume surpasses your ability to control your embouchure. Blasting is an unbecoming sound for any musician. Never sacrifice beautiful sound…even for volume.
Air is Cheap.