Bass Trombone – How is it different?

The bass trombone is in a class of it’s own in any band or orchestra.  Although usually part of a trombone section, it often behaves and sounds like a principal instrument.  In a big band, a well projected bass bone can cut through the whole band as much as a lead trumpet.  It often has […]

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Cracked Note or How to Make a Brass Player Cringe

The dreaded Cracked Note and how to Fix it. Every brass instrument player will experience the dreaded split or cracked note from time to time. It is obvious when it happens. You attempt to play a beautiful tone through your instrument. Instead, the sound that comes out resembles a car backfiring. When this happens, other brass players […]

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Lip trills

Lip trills are a common technique used by brass players for an effect and also to improve their flexibility and articulation. To perform a lip trill, the player must quickly alternate between two notes, just using their lips. Here are the steps to perform lip trills on a brass instrument: Warm up Before attempting the […]

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The Impact of Brass Instruments on Wellbeing: A Case Study

Introduction – Impact of Brass Instruments on Wellbeing Have you ever wondered if the hours you spend playing your brass instrument offer more than just musical satisfaction? You’re not alone! Recent scientific studies have delved into the multifaceted benefits of playing brass instruments, from physical health to emotional wellbeing. Let’s take a comprehensive look at […]

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Mastering Advanced Techniques: A Guide for Brass Players

Introduction 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 Dynamic Control Articulation Varieties […]

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The Benefits of Music Education for Children: A Research-Based Insight

Introduction Music has long been considered a universal language that transcends boundaries and cultures. But did you know that music education can have a transformative impact on children’s development? In this article, we delve into the scientific research that highlights the multifaceted benefits of music education for children. From cognitive growth to emotional intelligence and […]

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The Role of Brass Instruments in Different Genres of Music

Introduction Brass instruments have a unique and versatile role in various genres of music. This blog post explores the role of brass instruments in music genres, from the grandiosity of classical compositions to the improvisational freedom of jazz and beyond. Classical Music The role of brass instruments in music genres like classical is often to […]

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Ageing Effects on Brass Players: Navigating the Golden Years

Introduction Ageing is a natural process that affects all aspects of our lives, including our abilities as musicians. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various ageing effects on brass players and offer some tips for adapting to them. Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to rehearse with a prestigious band, featuring some of the […]

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Mastering the Audition: A Guide for Brass Players

Introduction Auditions can be nerve-wracking experiences, even for seasoned musicians. Whether you’re a trumpeter aiming for first chair in an orchestra or a trombonist trying to secure a spot in a jazz ensemble, preparation is key. In this Mastering the Audition: A Guide for Brass Players article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to […]

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Demystifying Slide Positions for Double Trigger Trombones

Greetings to all trombonists exploring the realm of double trigger instruments! If you’ve been on the hunt for a slide position chart tailored to these bass trombones, in this guide, we’ll delve into why a standard chart might not be the ultimate solution you’re hoping for, and we’ll uncover methods to discover slide positions for […]

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How to overcome stage fright

It can be a terrifying experience to be presented with a large number of people, all staring at you, waiting for you to perform for them. Stage fright, also known as performance anxiety, can manifest in several different ways. For anyone delivering speeches, or presentation, or performances, learning how to overcome stage fright is an important skill.

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Bugle Calls

Purpose of bugle calls Bugle calls serve several purposes in the military. They are a traditional means of communication that have been used for centuries to convey orders, signal the start and end of activities, and provide a way to coordinate the movements of troops. While traditionally played on a bugle (like a trumpet with […]

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How AI is impacting the music industry

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is developing at a much faster rate than predicted, and its impact will be felt in most aspects of our modern lives.  AI is already having a significant impact on the music industry, and it is expected to continue to transform the industry in various ways. How AI is impacting the music […]

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Playing low notes

To play low notes on any brass instrument, such as a trumpet, trombone, or tuba, you need to adjust your embouchure and air support to produce a slower air stream. Here are some steps you can follow: Position the mouthpiece correctly Place your lips firmly around the mouthpiece and ensure that your embouchure is tight. […]

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Playing high notes

Playing high notes on a brass instrument can be challenging, but with practice and proper technique, it is achievable. Here are some tips to help you play high notes on a brass instrument: Lip buzzing exercises Lip buzzing exercises can help strengthen your lip muscles and improve your ability to play higher notes. Try buzzing […]

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How to overcome nerves

I once asked a very famous musician, “Why don’t you ever get nervous when playing important gigs?” His response was “If I get nervous, I don’t play well”. This, of course, is true, however, not all of us can consciously control our anxiety when performing. In fact, knowing we won’t play well if we’re nervous […]

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How do Brass Instruments Produce Sound?

Brass instruments, such as trumpets, trombones, and tubas, produce sound through a combination of buzzing the lips and the resonance of the instrument itself. The lips produce the sound source When a player blows air through the instrument, it passes through a small, cup-shaped mouthpiece that is placed against the lips. The player then buzzes […]

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Tips for Learning Scales

Learning musical scales can seem daunting, but with practice and the right approach, it can become easier and more enjoyable. Here are some tips for learning scales: Start with the basics Before diving into complex scales, it’s important to learn the basics such as the names of the notes, the structure of a scale, and […]

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Why Learn Scales?

So, why learn scales? It seems boring, right? Learning scales is an important part of learning music, and there are several benefits to doing so: Improving Technique Practicing scales can help improve your finger dexterity, hand coordination, and overall playing technique. This can make it easier to play more complex pieces and improve your overall […]

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What’s the difference between a slide and valves?

Members of the brass family are equipped with either valves, or a slide. Slides and valves on brass instruments provide the player with a different method to change pitch. Both methods change the length of the instrument to change the pitch. The longer the instrument, the lower the pitch; the shorter the instrument, the higher […]

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What are the instruments in the Brass Family?

The brass family is comprised of several instruments, each with its own unique characteristics and sound. Here’s an overview of the main instruments in the brass family: The brass family of instruments produce a powerful and dynamic sound that is essential in many genres of music. While each instrument shares similarities in construction and technique, […]

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TROMBONE SLIDE POSITION ACCURACY

This chart shows how to play each note on a trombone using it’s slide position.  Pitch is controlled by blowing a note on the correct partial combined with moving the slide to the correct position. Slide Position chart Note: There is a fundamental partial one octave below the 1st partial. This is where the ‘pedal’ […]

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The Evolution of Brass Instruments: From Natural Horns to Valves

Introduction The brass instruments we know and love today have undergone significant transformations over the centuries. This blog post will take you on a journey through the evolution of brass instruments, from the rudimentary natural horns to the sophisticated valve systems we use today. The Dawn of Brass Instruments The earliest brass instruments were natural […]

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Trombone slide lubricants — which is best?

Trombone slide lubricants — which is best? Have you ever assembled your trombone, after a long period of neglect, only to discover that your slide moves with the finesse of a rusty gate?  The antidote is trombone slide lubricant.  But which one should you use?  There a plenty of options on the market, however, most […]

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Returning to playing brass after a break

Returning to playing brass after a break doesn’t need to be traumatic Many brass players have been restricted from playing with other people due to COVID restrictions. This has been disastrous especially for youngsters just starting out. Much of the fun of playing a brass instrument is making music with other people.  A generation of […]

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Tenor clef – a crash course

A tenor clef at the beginning of a new piece of music can be a frightening symbol to face if you have never seen one before.  It looks a bit like a schematic of the crossbow that the conductor might use to fire his baton at you if you stuff it up.  Fortunately, learning to […]

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Role of the Bass Trombone in a Big Band

How is the role of a bass trombone in a big band any different to the other trombones in the section? Is it simply the 4th trombone part, or something more? Listen to any good big band and you will hear the difference. In a big band, the bass trombone part should be approached by […]

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PRACTICE TIME – MAKING IT EFFECTIVE

Make your lesson and practice time count Most students find it challenging to remember what was said in a lesson. Perhaps conveniently, they sometimes find it even more difficult to remember what they should practice prior to the next lesson. Keeping a journal will make a student’s practice time more effective. Keep a simple journal […]

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PERFORMING MUSIC – PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

It’s all in the head Having intellectual knowledge discussed here at playingbrass.com is an important start. However, head-knowledge will be useless if it can’t be applied when you are performing music.  Performance situations can become very stressful unless you are confident in your abilities. When you are talking to a close friend, you’ll be unaware […]

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THE TROMBONE TRIGGER MAKES IT LONGER

Single trombone trigger Some trombones have a trigger or “F” attachment. When you press the trombone trigger, it makes the instrument longer by 5 semitones (equivalent to 6th position).  The instrument will produce a low F in the 1st position instead of a Bb when you press the trigger (or valve).  Therefore the trigger is […]

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ARTICULATION TO PRODUCE CHARACTER

Using articulation to convert notes into music Notes can be produced quite differently by using articulation.  A player produces various articulations by combining the use of the tongue and the air stream in different ways.  Tonguing techniques A player will use his tounge to shape each note to achieve the desired effect. An accomplished brass […]

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PRACTICE PERFECTLY FOR PERFECT PLAYING

Practice Imperfectly Practicing the wrong thing will help you play wrongly more consistently. If we practice perfectly, our practice helps us to play our instrument correctly. Purpose of Practice The purpose of practice is to develop your skills and strength. Practice is needed to maintain familiarity with your instrument and will help you achieve your […]

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SIGHT-READING CONFIDENTLY NEEDS PREPARATION

The Importance of Sight-Reading Well A confident sight-reading ability opens up new worlds of music for the player and allows them to easily play with others.  Sight-reading, at its most elementary level, is a combination of (1) pattern recognition, and (2) concentration. Pattern recognition You can’t recognize a pattern if you haven’t seen it before.  […]

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PROJECTING SOUND EFFICIENTLY

Projecting sound is not the same as playing loudly.  We want to project our sound as effortlessly as possible so the audience can hear the sound regardless of where they are sitting. Brass players “buzz” their lips into a small cup-shaped mouthpiece. This mouthpiece fits into the tubing of the brass instrument. The tubing of […]

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BUILDING A WIDE RANGE WITH STRENGTH

Building a wide range is the result of air-control and strength Building a wide range is essential to becoming an accomplished player. When playing a brass instrument, a we play higher notes when our lips buzz faster. A faster buzz is produced when air passes through the lips faster due to more air-pressure from the […]

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DEVELOP YOUR OWN SOUND AND TONE

No matter how accurately you play the notes, no one will want to listen to you for very long if you can’t produce a good tone.  We want to consistently produce a sound with attractive ‘colours’. Develop your own sound to deliberately produce a pleasing colour in your tone. The trombone amplifies the buzzing sound […]

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EMBOUCHURE – WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

What’s an Embouchure? An embouchure refers to the way you hold your mouth while playing – the lips in particular.  A good embouchure will set you up to play with a good tone, wide range and flexibility. However, a poor embouchure will severely limit your ability to play well. A poor embouchure can severely limit your […]

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CONTROLLING AIRFLOW IS CRITICAL

CONTROLLING AIRFLOW IS THE MOST CRITICAL ASPECT OF PLAYING Without controlling airflow it is impossible to play well.  Brass instruments are fueled by focused air which creates the buzz.  Air-flow heavily influences how high, low, loud, soft, expressively (musically) you can play, how long you can play a phrase and how the instrument will sound. […]

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GOOD POSTURE ALLOWS AIR TO FLOW FREELY

The Importance of Good Posutre Playing a brass instrument well involves focus, concentration, energy and above all free airflow from your lungs to your lips.  This is achieved through a good posture. Poor posture will make it difficult to do all of these things. When Sitting Sit up straight, but relaxed – don’t sit up […]

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HOW TO HOLD YOUR TROMBONE

Hold your trombone like you are serious about playing Holding your instrument correctly every time you play sets you up to play at your very best. It allows good airflow, posture and placement of the instrument on the lips. And most importantly, it allows you to operate the slide freely. Learn how to hold your […]

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CARE OF YOUR INSTRUMENT

Taking good care of your instrument will keep it looking like new Brass instruments will last for a lifetime if you take good care of your instrument.  The biggest risk to an instrument is when it is out of its case.  Instruments scratch and dent easily, so be sure not to allow them to bump […]

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Plastic Trombone Review – Should I buy one?

Plastic Trombone Review The plastic trombone is a recent innovation, but are they any good?  This plastic trombone review discusses the benefits and the drawbacks of playing a plastic trombone. I am often asked by parents and students about the pros and cons of playing a plastic trombone vs a brass version of the instrument. I […]

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Music Grade Exams – should I do them?

Are Music Grade Exams worth the trouble? Music grade exams – are they good or bad?  A common question with an even more common answer… “It depends”. Succeeding at grade exams requires a high level of commitment from both the parent and the student.  Having a grade achievement as an objective can serve as motivation […]

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Group Music Lessons – are they good value?

Individual vs Group Music Lessons Group music lessons are an attractive option for parents when their child is starting out to learn a new instrument.  However, each approach has it’s own trade-offs that should be considered before making a decision for your child. But before going into the detail, the fact is – the #1 factor […]

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