The Benefits of Buzzing
It's been a while! Today's post is about buzzing - the where, when, why and how!
Buzzing should be a part of everyone's daily routine, but it must be done effectively and safely. Every brass player should keep these in mind when buzzing:
Buzzing should take place at the start of every practice session, as well as during the practice time. Buzzing sirens or "roller coasters" is a great way to warm up our lips and get our air moving for the day! After that, buzz some simple songs, like Mary Had A Little Lamb - this will help our lips and brain work together to buzz accurate pitches.
During the practice session, buzz parts of the etude/solo/music that give you trouble - this could be faster passages, or perhaps a note you keep missing. By buzzing the accurate rhythm and pitches (without tongue), you'll find it easier to produce on your instrument.
Beginning students: Can't take your big instrument home? Buzzing is a great way to practice at home without the horn. Buzz only 5 minutes at a time, with breaks in between. You can even sit down to watch TV and just buzz during the commercials! Just don't forget to use that great posture you use in school!
So what are the benefits of buzzing? By buzzing in tune and in time, our body is trained to produce the music we want without the extra aid of the instrument. Because of that, the instrument will ring more and produce a more beautiful and resonant sound and it will be easier too! This will improve legato playing as well as technical playing, and you will find that over time the intonation will improve as well! The benefits are endless!
Remember to buzz every day and talk to me in lessons if you experience success, pain, difficulty, or want more buzzing tools! Happy Practicing!
Finding High Quality Recordings
Listening is an important part of our musical development, but we're not always fortunate enough to hear each piece we work on live. Especially when it comes to solo literature for low brass instruments, there is a lot of great music that is under performed, but recordings allow us to continually access a performance so that we can learn from it.
High quality recordings have the following characteristics:
When looking for a recording, ask yourself if it fits these three characteristics. The resources below are by no means a complete list of places to find great recordings, but should have accessible recordings that are suitable:
The cons - only streaming, and not every recording is a good one! Listening to other students can be helpful, but try to stick to professionals to use as your model. If you don't know who the performer is, search for them online to try to find their bio, or look them up on the Trombone Page of the World or on David Werden's website (euphonium).
The cons - you have to pay for it (which is good for the music business anyway!), and similarly to YouTube, not every recording will be worth the cost. Check out the performers BEFORE you buy.
The cons - Naxos is a subscription service, so it is expensive to buy as an individual. Generally, institutions like schools and libraries pay for subscriptions for their students/patrons. See if your school has it, or convince them to subscribe!
The cons - probably a limited selection, making our low brass specific music unlikely.
The cons - may not be as accessible to someone not affiliated with the school.
The cons - this is a very specific resource, and contains only short clips. For the bigger picture, you'll need to find full parts and full length recordings.
Check back soon for information about the Region Band/All-State audition material and more! Happy listening!
With the summer in full swing, we've all had some time to relax after the school year, get back in shape, and revisit some of the music we've worked on before. But, the Region/All-State Band audition music will be posted soon and that means it's time to dive into some new etudes and solos!
So, where do we begin on this new journey? Should we just dive right in and start practicing, or are there other steps first? Here's a couple ideas:
Keep checking the TMEA website for their postings on the audition music. It should be posted around July 25th for the TBA conference. Next week, I'll have information here about high quality recordings, as well as upcoming posts about online resources, practice tips, and more.
Also, please "Like" my Facebook page and follow me on Google+ to receive updates on this blog as well as other information! I am available beginning August 4th for lessons in Tomball, so please contact me or submit the "New Student Information Form" to set up your first lesson!
So, now you're back in shape after some time off, and you're in the middle of summer. Schools out, and the next school year is still more than a month away. Perhaps you have a summer job, or some camps to attend, but this doesn't mean you should pack up your trombone, baritone, or euphonium until August! The summer is a great time to experiment, get a leg up before school starts, or just play for fun! Here's some options to explore:
And of course, there are plenty of other ways to stay active during the summer months, so find any music that excites you and get to playing! Use the same beautiful sound you make during the school year, and play your new music for your friends and family. And please share your music with me! I'd love to hear a performance in our next lesson, or a recording you made!
The best thing you can do is find music you enjoy and play it! Play with your friends, or play along with a recording. A quick search on YouTube might bring up some backing tracks that can let YOU play the melody too! Happy practicing!
As students, all of our teachers always tell us to practice as much as we can. Some provide practice logs, while some give us those scathing looks in rehearsals when they can tell we didn't go over that tricky passage last night. But what most teachers don't tell you to do is take a break and put the horn away for a while, or how to get yourself back in shape after a summer vacation.
Taking a break from playing can actually be a very healthy aspect of developing our musical skills and honing our instrumental technique as brass players. I have consistently found summers to be the best time to make large changes in my own playing, especially after taking some time off. The break allows our body to literally forget our old habits, and provides us the opportunity to retrain our bodies in a new way. We can REPLACE our habits with new ones, rather than trying to change our technique.
When dealing with breaks and post-break practicing, keep a few things in mind:
Remember: taking time off is a good thing, and the summer is a great time to enjoy it! During the school year, you'll be busy with marching band competitions, band rehearsals, Solo and Ensemble contests, and more. Take some time to rest now, but return to the instrument with a newfound sense of ambition and goals to reach the next level. Play simple tunes and technically easy music when you pick up your instrument again, and feed the buzz consistent and copious air!
And now after almost a week of traveling without playing, it is my turn to brush the dust off my trombone and get to practicing again! Enjoy your summer breaks and happy practicing!
Jeff Dunn, trombone
An avid educator, performer, and advocate for music.