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Teaching Brass Synthesis Assignment

The purpose of this Prezi is to organize brass technique and pedagogy in a logical manner. This would be geared as a starting point for someone who knows nothing about the brass family.

William Cleary

on 13 March 2013

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Transcript of Teaching Brass Synthesis Assignment

Basic Brass Principles Air=Buzz=Sound Fingerings/slide positions and its relation to the Harmonic Series Posture/hand position Every component of good brass playing can be traced back to breath support. Airstream and why its important Breathing Mythbusters - From Mountain Peak Methods Myth: To take a big breath, your shoulders aren’t supposed to move.

There is a difference between raising the shoulders in a misguided effort to take a big breath and allowing some incidental shoulder motion as you allow your lungs to fill with air.

Truth: Moving your shoulders won’t help you breathe well, but when you breathe well your shoulders will move.

Healthy Alternative: Tell your students: "Breathe to expand, don’t expand to breathe". Myth: To take a deep breath, breathe low.

There is a difference between pushing out your stomach in a misguided effort to take a big breath and allowing stomach motion as you allow your lungs to fill up with air.

Truth: Moving your stomach won’t help you breathe well, but when you breathe well your stomach will move.

Healthy Alternative: To breathe well, move all over, not just in one place. Myth: In order to breathe well it is important to support with the diaphragm.

This breathing myth implies that you push the air out with the diaphragm while, in reality, the diaphragm is relaxing as you exhale. The diaphragm is the primary muscle of inspiration; it does its work as you inhale, not as you exhale. Furthermore, you can’t directly feel your diaphragm because it doesn’t contain many sensory receptors. It’s confusing, especially for beginners, when you talk about the diaphragm as though you can directly feel it.

Don’t equate the diaphragm with abdominal motion because they are two different things. For elaboration on this point, including diagrams of the diaphragm and all the other important components of breathing, refer to the Breathing Book, discussed below.

Truth: You use your diaphragm every time you take a breath, not just to play a brass instrument. The diaphragm does its work when you inhale; it is relaxing when you exhale.

Healthy alternative: Encourage your brass students to move the ribs in order to take a big breath and don’t talk about the diaphragm as though you can feel it directly. Teaching Healthy Breathing Habits Apply these concepts directly to mouthpiece exercise and long tones exercises. Employ the sing > buzz > play system immediately after doing air exercises. The goal should be to inhale and exhale with the same intensity and attention as one does the breathing exercises. This can and should be incorporated before and during every brass specific warmup/lesson. Embouchure Forming an Embouchure Trumpet embouchure Regardless of instrument, a brass embouchure contains 3 characteristics Firm corners Flat Chin Fast air (Air speed will change when trying to achieve certain registers on low brass. But the idea or intention of fast air is crucial to engage muscles surrounding the aperture) When placing the mouthpiece on the face, use just enough pressure to create a seal between the metal of the mouthpiece and the flesh. Do not allow air pockets to form between your gums and lips. Instruct students to use the shank of their mouthpiece as a gauge for how wide their teeth should be. Allow lips to comfortably come together while still maintaining the appropriate gap in ones teeth. Place the mouthpiece so that the cup of the mouthpiece is occupied by an equal ratio of top and bottom lip. Depending on ones teeth, the shape of their lips, or where their natural aperture seems to be, it might be appropriate for students to experiment with placing their mouthpiece slightly off center. This should be done carefully though, and teacher should monitor that their students embouchure doesnt "wander" to a completely unnatural or unpractical position. What could be described as a "textbook" embouchure. Flat chin, firm corners, and an appropriate placement. (He could however be holding the shank of the mouthpiece away from the cup to avoid unnecessary pressure) Another embouchure demonstrating appropriate technique. Notice the focused aperture resting right in the center of the mouthpiece rim An embouchure that is slightly off center An embouchure that is placed slightly high Horn Embouchure Horn embouchure is in a lot of way very similar to other high brass embouchure's, with the exception being the mouthpiece placement. Most horn embouchures will have a 70%-30% lip displacement, with the top lip occupying 70%. In many ways, the bottom lip will act simply as an anchor for the top lip to vibrate on. With this lip displacement, horns can play much lower than other high brass instruments. (Due to the large vibrating area of the top lip in the mouthpiece) A flat chin will also help ensure that only the top lip is vibrating. If both lips are vibrating a multi-phonic will be achieved instead of a centered pitch. Horn embouchures will also generally orient the mouthpiece/lead pipe downwards. (Unlike a trumpet) There are however exceptions. To the left is virtuoso Dennis Brain who clearly does not orient his mouthpiece downwards. The the right is a more characteristic horn angle, but with a more %50-50 mouthpiece displacement. It is generally a good idea to start with a "picture perfect" embouchure, and then alter it slowly and slightly to suit a players needs based on individual anatomy Same rules apply for air pockets/puffy cheeks in horn as for trumpet. This player could likely remedy her embouchure problems by focusing on keeping contact between her teeth and the inside of her lips Trombone/Euphonium Embouchure Trombone/Euphonium embouchures are also fairly similar to horn embouchures in that there is not traditionally a %50-%50 split in lip placement on the mouthpiece. Instead of a 70-30 split, trombone/euphonium will likely see closer to 65-35 or 60-40 lip ratio. While this will differ from player to player, the important thing to remember is that there will be generally more top lip than bottom lip in the cup of the mouthpiece. The image shown above could generally be considered to be a "textbook" embouchure. This particular student has an almost "backwards" embouchure in that his bottom lip is occupying the majority of the mouthpiece. This will make playing the low register quite difficult, and if he can, it will likely sound pinched or strained. Tuba Embouchure Generally speaking, the number one enemy of playing tuba efficiently is tension. Because of this, a tuba embouchure is generally going to be significantly more relaxed than other brass instruments Tuba is going to experience a similar lip ratio as euphonium/trombone players Tubists may experience that they need to let more lip fall into the mouthpiece. This is normal and generally encouraged. Doing "fish face" exercises will also help young tubists achieve the flexibility and relaxation required to play low tones. Achieving a buzz Getting a consistent buzz should be an "air centered" process. One should strive for a very "buzzy" sound without any air or spit. After a buzz is achieved, one should focus on centering specific pitches and patterns with just ones mouthpiece. (This will be discussed in detail later) Your mouthpiece is the instrument. Your horn simply acts as an amplifier. Therefore, centered pitches with a wide harmonic pallet on just the mouthpiece will sound even better when plugged into the instrument. High Brass Buzzing Tips Getting a sound Refining that sound Buzzing to warm up Form your buzzing embouchure around a small coffee stirrer
Next place the mouthpiece around the straw and place it up to your lips.
Instruct students to use a mirror when doing this, as well as provide pictures of appropriate embouchures for them to compare themselves to.
Instruct students to blow very fast air through the straw, and in one motion, pull the straw out of their mouths/mouthpiece. This will result in a loose, unrefined buzz Begin starting to buzz without the straw, then try to achieve buzzing a comfortable low note (concert Bb).
Do this by having students first sing the note with their teeth open, then allow their lips to gently fall over their teeth to form an open mouthed hum, then have them find that same pitch on their mouthpiece.
Develop narrow sirens over about a perfect 4th with a drone playing, then expand as range increases.
Learn simple melodies on mouthpiece. This could also be a great intro to articulation as well
If students are having trouble centering on a pitch with just the mouthpiece, have them pull their main tuning slide out and play through just their lead pipe. This will isolate some notes and only a couple partials will be available to them
Experiment with half valving while playing simple melodies with a drone to get the feeling of the pressure of the entire horn on their face as they play.
SING > BUZZ > PLAY (if necessary) > RE-BUZZ Warm up every day with buzzing
Start with sirens, making them wider and wider as you go
Buzz remington exercises with a drone
Buzz scales and patterns
Incorporate sight singing with buzzing
Sol fege, then buzz
Incorporate sight rhythm reading with buzzing
Apply breathing exercises directly to buzzing
Aim for a vibrant buzz, eliminate any distractions in the sound (air, spit, etc.)
Only hold the shank of the mouthpiece with two fingers when buzzing
AIR VELOCITY COMBINED WITH A FIRM EMBOUCHURE IS KEY TO SUCCESS More Buzzing Resources This horn player is doing buzzing exercise into a stop mute Low Brass Buzzing Tips Getting a sound Refining one's buzz Warming up with buzzing With low brass, begin first by simply forming ones embouchure. Next try to achieve a motor boat sound while still maintaining firm corners and a flat chin. The straw exercise will also work, but you will need a longer straw and need to focus that you are placing your mouthpiece where it is supposed to be. Like anything else, practicing with mirrors handy as well as reference pictures and drones is always a good idea. Some useful low brass specific warmup guides This is an ok video at describing the straw technique. Ignore the part about putting the straw between your teeth though, as that does not simulate a teeth gap that is wide enough for low brass. Holding your trumpet Good posture is essential for airflow, eliminating tension, as well as preventing injury To cultivate excellent valve technique, teach your trumpet students the following guidelines:

1. Hold the entire weight of the instrument up with the left hand and arm; do not transfer the weight to the right hand and arm.

2. Curve the fingers of the right hand, producing a backwards “C” shape.

3. Move valves at the same time, regardless of direction. For instance, when moving from 2 to a 1-3 combination, valve 2 should be moving up at exactly the same time as valves 1 and 3 are moving down.

4. Move the valves rapidly from open to closed position or vice-versa; precisely at the moment of the desired note change.

5. Do not permit the 3rd finger to be slower than the first two fingers.

6. Valves must be fully depressed or fully open at the beginning of each note (assuming no scoop inflections are desired).

7. Strive for a completely relaxed right hand (even while rapidly depressing valves).

8. Do not puff the air with each change of valve combination. Develop independence between the right hand and the air flow. From Mountain Peak Methods Maurice Andre Demonstrating a "textbook" handposition Holding your Trombone Allow your right hand pinky to simple rest on the pinky hook to avoid unneeded pressure Most people use their left hand ring finger in the third valve slide, but middle finger might feel more comfortable for people with large hands Always assemble the trombone the same way to avoid dropping and damaging the slide Pick up the bell section with your left hand. Check the lock on the slide, then pick that up with your right hand. Join the two sections so that they site almost perpendicular to each other. Always keep your left hand pinky on the slide when not playing just in case to protect the slide. Hold your trombone like Glen Miller. He was pretty good Trombone Holding Tips Use your first finger on your left hand to help stabilize the mouthpiece on your face when you are moving the slide. Only use two fingers on the slide, and lead with your wrist as you slide it in and out. Keep your music stand to your right side to avoid damaging the slide as well as to keep the bell unobstructed Holding Your Horn Sit in your chair so the the left corner of the chair rests in between your legs. Your legs should form a 90 degree angle with each other. While sitting up perfectly straight, bring the horn up to your face without craning your head or neck to reach the mouthpiece. If you can get away with resting your horn on your leg this way, that's fine, but if not, you will need to support the weight of your instrument with your right hand. Right hand position will vary greatly depending on the player and the size of their hand. However, there is certainly a good place to start that will get most people pretty close. The player on left could probably sit up a little straighter, thereby forcing him to remove his horn from his leg. This is a decent picture of a good starting place for ones right hand in the bell. Notice how the back of his hand is against the far side of bell, and that the hand is slightly cupped. Holding Your Euphonium Similar rules apply for holding a euphonium as they do horn. Dont allow your students to rest the euphonium on a chair, as they will likely be able to hold one the correct way. (Unless they are really small) Holding it like this will be a good place to start Holding a Tuba Harmonic Series Every brass instrument works by combining varying lengths of tubing with the creator of the sound being the buzzing of one's lips Every partial one can play is a specific isolation of a harmonic from the fundamental note of the instrument. The lowest note for each instrument is called the fundamental pitch. The harmonic series begins at the fundamental and moves up as follows: Octave, P5, P4, M3, m3, m3, M2, M2, M2, List of partials based on the harmonic series Each note indicated is the "cieling" of that partial. Therefore, if you started playing a C in the staff and started playing chromatically down, you would be in the 4th partial until you got to G, where a partial shift would occur. Horn Partials based on harmonic series Euphonium/Trombone Harmonic Series Tuba partials and the harmonic series Basic Trumpet Fingering Chart Because brass instruments are generally made the same way and rely on the same physics, the valve combinations for each are going to be the same.... Horn Basic Fingerings However, due to transpositions and the fact that some instruments typically play in higher or lower partials than others, the fingerings might not seem the same to inexperienced brass players Trombone Slide Positions Euphonium Basic Fingerings Tuba Basic Fingerings
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