Mastering Advanced Techniques: A Guide for Brass Players


Brass instruments offer a rich palette of sounds and techniques, but mastering advanced techniques requires more than just hitting the right notes. This article serves as a comprehensive guide for intermediate to advanced brass players, focusing on mastering advanced techniques that can elevate your performance to new heights.

Extended Techniques

  1. Multiphonics:
    • How to Execute: Start by playing a single note and then hum another note while maintaining the first one. The key is to keep your embouchure stable while humming.
    • Practice Tip: Begin with humming a perfect fifth above the note you’re playing. As you get comfortable, experiment with different intervals.
  2. Flutter Tonguing:
    • How to Execute: Roll your ‘R’s as you would in speech while maintaining a steady airflow through the instrument.
    • Practice Tip: Start by practicing this technique on a mid-range note until you can maintain the flutter for at least 4-5 seconds.
  3. Circular Breathing:
    • How to Execute: As you play, fill your cheeks with air. When you need to inhale, use your cheeks to push air through the instrument while you quickly inhale through your nose.
    • Practice Tip: Practice this first without the instrument by blowing through a straw into a glass of water, just focusing on the cheek and nose coordination. Keep the bubles coming constantly.

Dynamic Control

  1. Pianissimo to Fortissimo:
    • How to Execute: Start by playing a long tone at a moderate volume. Gradually increase the volume to fortissimo and then decrease to pianissimo while keeping the quality of sound.
    • Practice Tip: Use a decrescendo/crescendo exercise over a long tone to improve your control.
  2. Dynamic Contrast:
    • How to Execute: Choose a passage in your music where you can insert dynamic contrasts. Practice playing it with exaggerated dynamics to give the music some life and interest.
    • Practice Tip: Record yourself to evaluate if the dynamic changes are effectively conveyed.

Articulation Varieties

  1. Staccato:
    • How to Execute: Emphasise the start of the note and cut it off quickly without stopping it with your tongue.
    • Practice Tip: Practice staccato scales to get used to the quick release of notes. Short and detached.
  2. Legato:
    • How to Execute: Use your air to connect each note smoothly, avoiding any breaks in sound.
    • Practice Tip: Use slurs in your practice to help create a seamless sound.
  3. Marcato:
    • How to Execute: Give the note a strong attack and a full value. This is one of the few situations where you should stop the note with your tongue to give emphasis with a crisp cutoff, especially in jazz.
    • Practice Tip: Think of marcato as a more forceful staccato, but hold the note for its full value.
  4. Double and Triple Tonguing:
    • How to Execute: Use a “ta-ka” for double tonguing or “ta-ka-ta” or “ta-ta-ka” syllable pattern to articulate fast passages. Use “da-ga” for a softer double/triple tongue.
    • Practice Tip: Start slow and use a metronome to gradually increase speed.

Tempo and Rhythmic Complexity

  1. Complex Rhythms:
    • How to Execute: Break down complex rhythms into smaller parts. Use a metronome to keep time.
    • Practice Tip: Start slow, then gradually increase the tempo as you become more comfortable.
  2. Tempo Changes:
    • How to Execute: Practice with a metronome that allows you to program tempo changes.
    • Practice Tip: Work on transitions between different tempos to make them as smooth as possible.

Phrasing and Musicality

  1. Rubato:
    • How to Execute: Slightly speed up and slow down within a phrase to add emotional depth.
    • Practice Tip: Practice with a metronome to ensure you’re not straying too far from the original tempo.
  2. Expressive Techniques:
    • How to Execute: Use dynamics, articulation, and tempo changes to shape your musical phrases.
    • Practice Tip: Record yourself to evaluate your expressiveness.

Instrument-Specific Techniques

  1. Trombone:
    • Slide Techniques: Master quick and smooth slide transitions. Move your slide during tonguing.
    • Practice Tip: Practice different articulations to get comfortable with quick slide movements, especially legato playing.
  2. Tuba and Bass Trombone:
    • Breath Control: Focus on diaphragmatic breathing to manage the large volume of air. Project your sound rather than blowing louder. More volume will use more air.
    • Practice Tip: Use long tone exercises to improve your breath control.

Practice Routines

  1. Scales and Arpeggios: Incorporate extended techniques into your daily routine.
    • Practice Tip: Use a metronome to keep time and gradually increase speed.
  2. Etudes: Choose pieces that focus on the techniques you’re trying to master.
    • Practice Tip: Break down difficult passages and work on them separately.
  3. Long Tones: Use these to work on your dynamic control and embouchure.
    • Practice Tip: Focus on keeping a steady pitch and volume throughout the long tone.


Mastering advanced techniques is a journey that requires dedication, focused practice, and a deep understanding of your instrument. By incorporating these techniques into your practice routine, you’ll not only improve your technical skills but also unlock new dimensions of musical expression.


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