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Play Louder Without Blasting

My High School band director's signature on my yearbook at the end of my Junior year.

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.

  • Music Education Blog Carnival – November 2011 Edition

    [...] Harmon Mute posted at The Oil Valley Hornist.Music TipsSusie Ahrens presents Play Louder Without Blasting posted at For the Love of Tuba.The next Music Education Blog Carnival will be hosted by David [...]

  • Tuba is best instrument

    Thanks im a girl tuba player and I just moved and my new band is horrible and loud! Worst of all I cant be heard over them. So thanks.

  • fellow tuba player

    I have the same issue with my band. This info will help out a lot.

  • TubAsian

    My band director is just like
    I’m like D:

  • Alex_575

    Ugg I’m in 8th grade and play tuba but the other tubas in the high school marching band and loud and I’m just there and I hope this works

  • Brian Abel

    I am in marching but am the youngest member (from the junior high below) and i need to play LOUD thanks for the tip to play outside that is really useful.

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