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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPractice Room(Moderator: blast) How loud should I practice?
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henrikbe
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« on: Aug 29, 2017, 11:03PM »

"To play loud, you need to practice loud," I read somewhere (probably on this forum). But how loud? To increase my general playing volume (that is, to getplay a decent mf and f), what would be the most efficient way to practice? As loud as I can (at the expense of tone quality), or should I rather just play slightly louder than my regular "comfort level"?

BTW I need an increased volume rather fast, as I have a performance coming up in a couple of weeks, where I've been told I need to play louder... And yes, I understand I need a lot more patience than this to build a good volume range. But that's my situation right now. So basically I'm looking for both good advice on long term volume building, as well as any possible quick fix that might improve my volume by a couple of weeks.

Also, I should mention that I'm not very experienced, and my current volume level is rather lousy (so I figured it might be possible to at least get some improvement quite quickly). And I am going to get lessons, where I'll ask my teacher for advice on this (I'm currently waiting for him to get back to me with once he has his schedule sorted out).
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 29, 2017, 11:19PM »

control of f and ff and fff takes playing time to build; you also need to have an internal concept of what it should sound like so you can alert yourself when you are getting warmer or colder in pursuit of it. (That's true of almost any musical thing, really)

I suppose the most basic way to practice it is a slow crescendo from a volume you can produce and control up to where you can't grow it anymore. 

Not every attempt will fail at exactly the same point, so... analyze what changed in that transition from can to can't, what were you able to keep going in the attempts that went farther?

If you can identify it, you can work on carrying it farther.


P.S.

One basic for almost all trombone playing... tongue with "tah" and "ah, not "too" or "oo" or "tu.  "Tah" and "ah" make for an open throat, "too" and "tu" do not.

Can't play fff with a closed throat.
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 29, 2017, 11:33PM »

I realized just recently that I practice much more quietly than I play. Its never been an issue. I have always had volume to spare and endurance for days. The first time I realized my quiet practice was maybe a negative was when I got a new mouthpiece just yesterday. I have a new approach to figure out to play as loud as I need to with a mouthpiece that feels tighter than I'm used to but only at high volumes.

Anyway what I recommend is play a series of steep crescendos and do some good stretching and breathing exercises. That should help you get all the air you need and to find how loud you can play before you don't sound how you want to. Keep at it diligently until your performance then take a more relaxed approach to practicing how to be louder. But once you get as loud as you can and still sound how you want the next crescendo try to get just a tiny bit louder and put all your effort into controlling your chops so you sound good.  
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 30, 2017, 02:58AM »


P.S.

One basic for almost all trombone playing... tongue with "tah" and "ah, not "too" or "oo" or "tu.  "Tah" and "ah" make for an open throat, "too" and "tu" do not.

Can't play fff with a closed throat.
Henrikbe is living in Norway. Tah and too does not sound the same in the whole world. Actually "oo" "Too" and "doo" is said and played with an open throat unless a wierd dialict in Scandinavia.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 30, 2017, 03:17AM »

In response to the OP. What works for me is a gentle warm up then at least an octave (up and down) of long notes. Each note should have a gradual crescendo then decresendo. Holding the loudest part gradually longer before the decrescendo. Knowing the sound you want, as suggested earlier, is good advice. It's all about maintaining control.
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 31, 2017, 05:24AM »

Many players have not heard a true ff or fff. It's a revelation when you play in a section with someone who knows how to play different dynamics, like when you get to sit in a section with a pro giving a masterclass.

If you want to play New York Phill ff or Chicago fff, you probably aren't practicing loud (or supported) enough.
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 31, 2017, 06:05AM »

Normally? No louder than lovely. But regular pianissimo and fortissimo practice may also be beneficial in some ways.

...Geezer
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 31, 2017, 07:21AM »

I used to play pretty quietly. I had a small group gig a few years back (about 21 years ago) where we had microphones any time we were in the main lounge. Drummer kept the volume down too (band leader was NOT having any of that normal bam-bam foolishness.) We did a lot of Armstrong, Bix/Trumbauer, Morton and Ellington on that gig, and the leader was a stickler for balance and keeping the volume appropriate for the venue. It was great, I learned a lot about pretty much every aspect of music, and I got my butt kicked a lot. Great times!

When I got back home I slipped back into the scene I grew up in. The OKC scene is still very much a hard-bop and Basie type of scene, as it was then. And rarely are there microphones on straight ahead gigs. I would go sit in with people and I couldn't compete volume-wise. In my time on the gig I had fixed so many issues and become a better player overall, but I'd "lost" my ability to play loud. Actually, I had gained a bit of control over my instrument, but I'd yet to learn how to play loud in control.

What I did to fix this was to add dynamic variations in all of my exercises. Longtones (Remington) - do them soft (as normal) first time. Take a short break and listen to JJ. 2nd time, start ppp and crescendo to breaking point, decrescendo just as things start to break up. You may need to add a few beats to each note to do this. DO THIS IN TIME! It should go without saying, but do all exercises in strict time. Lipslurs: 1st time normal at comfortable volume. 2nd time loud-ish. You can also do the ppp-fff crescendo thing on these as well if you feel it helps. Scales: do them soft and controlled first time. Second time, turn up the volume, pay attention to your attacks and don't splat.

And of course, ultimately, you have to take the parts you are playing and practice them at the volume you will be performing. Do this in a large room if possible - it hurts to play loud in small rooms.

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« Reply #8 on: Aug 31, 2017, 07:25AM »

Henrikbe is living in Norway. Tah and too does not sound the same in the whole world. Actually "oo" "Too" and "doo" is said and played with an open throat unless a wierd dialict in Scandinavia.

Here it is in the International Phonetic Alphabet

ju:z ta: na:t tu:

Problem solved!

What does the Norwegian doctor have you say when he looks at your throat?

The "a" in the common Norwegian phrase "god dag" would be what we're aiming for and the "o" is not it at all.
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 31, 2017, 08:28AM »

Here it is in the International Phonetic Alphabet

ju:z ta: na:t tu:

Problem solved!

What does the Norwegian doctor have you say when he looks at your throat?

The "a" in the common Norwegian phrase "god dag" would be what we're aiming for and the "o" is not it at all.
The difference between the "o" and "a" in the Norwegian "god dag" is that in "o" the lips is formed to an O, in the "a" the lips are much more open. But the throat is exactly alike. Whe you play the horn the lips are not as open as the "a" or formed like an O.

That does not matter, what matter is that the back of the tongue in the America "o" reduce the air flow but not in the Noewegian.

In this case you have no use for the interantional Alphabet, if you are interseted you should try to find a radio station with Norwegian language, or find some one person who comes from Norway.
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 31, 2017, 08:38AM »

Quote
And I am going to get lessons, where I'll ask my teacher for advice on this (I'm currently waiting for him to get back to me with once he has his schedule sorted out).

That is good. Just play a little more louder than you usually do, no use to blast, let it take the time it need. Crescende diminuendo practising is very good, do that, and visa versa. But what you do need most of all is just practising as loud as you can with a good sound. Do pactis soft in between.
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 31, 2017, 09:34AM »

In this case you have no use for the interantional Alphabet, if you are interseted you should try to find a radio station with Norwegian language, or find some one person who comes from Norway.


Better idea... find an American to demonstrate a proper "ah" for the OP.
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 31, 2017, 09:50AM »

Denis Wick used to say that his practice mute would rattle at very loud volumes (loud in, much softer out).  If you can find a Wick Practice Mute, you could try to make it rattle.  Especially important if there are others who must endure your practicing. ;-)
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 31, 2017, 11:18AM »

I think practicing extremes for short sessions is extremely important. I find extremes of volume, range, articulation etc... really give you a sense of how confident you can be.

In terms of loud playing, this is how I approach it and have had reasonable success doing so. Pick something simple, perhaps long tones, or articulated simple patterns. Start by going as extreme as you can, very loud. After playing in that extreme, identify the issues with it. Was the sound not steady? Was it overly bright and aggressive? Was the attack unclean? Etc..... write down the issues if it helps. Then pick one aspect to work on. Let's say the note wasn't steady. Try playing again but focus in keeping your air steady. Repeat the analysing process, Did I achieve what I meant to fix? If yes, did I manage to keep the volume I had when I initially started? If not, why?

Some of the best advice I have been given from one of the best players in the world was "Give yourself permission to sound bad in the PRACTICE ROOM". If you only ever sound good, chances are you are not identifying and improving on issues in your playing. That doesn't mean that the goal is to sound bad, it just means the goal is to identify why you can't do something in the most efficient way possible.

If you don't practice playing loud yeah... unfortunately chances are you won't be able to perform loud very well. My advice is get your ego out of the practice room and spend time fixing issues until you sound good.
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 31, 2017, 01:28PM »

The difference between the "o" and "a" in the Norwegian "god dag" is that in "o" the lips is formed to an O, in the "a" the lips are much more open. But the throat is exactly alike. Whe you play the horn the lips are not as open as the "a" or formed like an O.

That does not matter, what matter is that the back of the tongue in the America "o" reduce the air flow but not in the Noewegian.

In this case you have no use for the interantional Alphabet, if you are interseted you should try to find a radio station with Norwegian language, or find some one person who comes from Norway.

 Good!

Hei Henrik!

Im from Norway too  Hi

Svenne have experience in this and have good points about differences in languages.

Im not the right person to give any advice on this but Im always interested in how to practice. I try to practice both soft and loud with same attitude. The clue is to get control over this thing we play. Control in dynamic and range. Sometimes we have to try different methods to find what works. Its not always the same for all players. We also have to tests our limits both in dynamic and range, but strive for control and good sound. Loud isnt that much about strength but more about finesse as I see it.

Never give up! When we find a way where we feel its effortless and we feel we can make music, then we are on right track! If not be careful and try other methods until you are on a right track. Good you found a teacher. It can speed up things if he see what you need.

Lykke til!  Hi

Leif

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« Reply #15 on: Sep 01, 2017, 02:15AM »


Better idea... find an American to demonstrate a proper "ah" for the OP.

Are you being funny on purpose?

Do you think trombone playing is invented in Amerika?  :)
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« Reply #16 on: Sep 01, 2017, 02:24AM »

Thanks everyone for all your advice! Except of course this:


Better idea... find an American to demonstrate a proper "ah" for the OP.

No no no, it is ALWAYS a better idea to find a Norwegian than to find an American!  :)
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« Reply #17 on: Sep 01, 2017, 07:14AM »

Are you being funny on purpose?

Do you think trombone playing is invented in Amerika?  :)

Rob should know the only thing we do right here is Jazz. For the rest of it, we're just guessing.
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« Reply #18 on: Sep 01, 2017, 07:23AM »

But what didn't take into account is that there is a North America as well as a South America! So which "Americans" and does that include Canada?

...Geezer
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« Reply #19 on: Sep 01, 2017, 07:23AM »

I guess that Norwegians can never learn to play the trombone if the "o/a" is so different. ... such an enlightening study of phonetics we all just got treated to.

I guess C. Lindberg (swedish) probably didn't know how to either until he worked with Ralph Sauer and heard American speech? Then the rest is history.
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