Here are 10 top tips for improving your own brass playing. At first, these all seem fairly common sense and easy but life will often get in the way. What are your thoughts on these 10 top tips and what practical things can you do to work around the everyday problems discussed?
1) Musical practice will lead to musical performances
Always practice musically as this will lead to much more musical performances. Avoid the temptation to blithely play through scales and technical exercises as this does nothing to help with true musical development. Always think of scales as little pieces of music and develop tonal colours and timbral qualities. Always try to get out and steer well clear of the higher, louder, faster mentality that often runs through lots of brass playing circles!
2) Stick to a routine
Obvious really, but not always ever so practical when life continues around us all! Little and often will usually provide far better results than lots very irregularly.
3) Listen, listen and listen
The importance of this can never be overstated. Listen to the music whilst you are playing, listen to what you are doing and how it relates to others and listen to recordings.
4) Prepare fully for performances
Not only in terms of the physical aspect of playing, but also mentally. Think things through and try to anticipate any issues that may occur so that you can hopefully try to avoid them.
5) Remember – Wind = Song. Focus on your sound as it is the first thing that people hear
Breathe and focus on the sound, and the purpose or intention of what you are playing.
6) Rest as much as you play
Never force more playing when your lips are tired or if they hurt. Bruising your embouchure is very painful and can lead to many further problems.
7) Use technology
Simple things like a metronome or tuner app for your phone can really help with improving technique and understanding of the music
8) Record yourself
This an obvious way to evaluate what you are doing and what your playing actually sounds like. Although, please remember that your sound may be different to what you think it is, and if you have poor recording equipment you may get poor quality sound.
9) If you are finding nerves a bit of an issue, avoid caffeine, dairy products or sugary products that will give an immediate lift but a serious crash after an hour or so!
Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
10) Enjoy yourself!
This will come through in your performance and make you feel a whole lot better about the next time you perform.
What things do you consider to important for developing tone, technique and musicality? Feel free to leave a comment or add your thoughts or ideas, or discuss your own 10 top tips.