My conductor says I am out of tune, however, I dilligently use an electronic tuner before every rehearsal.

Questions and AnswersCategory: General QuestionMy conductor says I am out of tune, however, I dilligently use an electronic tuner before every rehearsal.
Lisa Lourdes asked 3 years ago

What’s going wrong? and how can I fix it?

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1 Answers
Scott Kardash answered 3 years ago

The reason you sound out of tune is simply because your pitch is slightly off compared to others in your band.  That being said, there can be a few possible causes.  Here are a few common ones;

  1. Although your pitch may be perfectly aligned to the tuner, it becomes irrelevant when playing with others, unless they have also tuned to that same pitch.  We are in tune when our pitch is aligned in a relative sense to other players, rather than being aligned in an absolute sense to a tuning device.
  2. When playing a brass instrument, YOU need to create each note, including the pitch.  The instrument is simply there to help you.  By that I mean, the actual pitch of your instrument will be directly influenced by how fast your lips are buzzing. Your lips create the pitch.  So, to buzz in tune with others around you, you MUST listen carefully to them while playing to keep yourself in tune with them.
  3. The pitch of a brass instrument will fall as it warms up. A cold instrument will play relatively sharp because the tubing is shorter due to contraction.  As an instrument warms up, the tubing expands and becomes longer, thereby lowering the pitch. A tuning slide may require adjustment as an instrument warms up.  Always listen!

So,  use a tuner initially to get your pitch to roughly where is should be as a starting point.  But after that, put it back in your case and listen to others around you when you play.  If everyone does this, the band will play in tune.
Trombone players have a distinct advantage here since they MUST carefully listen to the pitch of every note they play and adjust their slide accordingly.  As a confession:  when a conductor asks me to tune my trombone, I pretend to adjust my tuning slide.  I have it set it to make the instrument slightly sharp, which gives me tuning flexibility in 1st position.
I hope this helps.

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