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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningBeginners and Returning Trombonists(Moderator: bhcordova) Practice mute or mouthpiece buzzing plus other things?
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Dixieland57
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« on: Nov 26, 2017, 05:33AM »

Hi, when you have an occasional day who you can't practice at full volume what do you think is the best, a practice mute or mouthpiece buzzing, slide precision work, singing accurate pitch, etc?

Thank you
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« Reply #1 on: Nov 26, 2017, 07:29AM »

The practice mute is less than ideal but playing 105% of a trombone is a lot better than playing with only 5% of your instrument.
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 26, 2017, 09:37AM »

Hi, when you have an occasional day who you can't practice at full volume what do you think is the best, a practice mute or mouthpiece buzzing, slide precision work, singing accurate pitch, etc?

Thank you

Maybe do a little of all?

Leif
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 26, 2017, 09:42AM »

Personally, I only do a small amount of freebuzzing - 3 or 4 minutes is plenty, once or twice during the day.  More than that at a time can be counterproductive.

I'm not a fan of practice mutes of any kind.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 26, 2017, 09:56AM »

I've been doing the Doug Elliot, just playing very, very quietly. I find this much more useful than a practice mute or buzzing.
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Dixieland57
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 26, 2017, 11:10AM »

Don't understand your quote burgerbob...
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 26, 2017, 11:14AM »

Basically just practicing as normal, but as quietly as you can possibly play. So that someone outside the room wouldn't even know you're there. You get to actually play (at a low dynamic, obviously) and this practice carries over to the real horn pretty well, I think.
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 26, 2017, 12:41PM »

Eh. I dig the practice mute. Not for long of course, but I like practicing with a mute more then buzzing or playing very quietly. Note that I never warm up or practice fundamentals more then a day or two in a row on a practice mute and I never practice actual music with a practice mute.
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 27, 2017, 02:56AM »

Sometimes, very rarelly though, I use a practise mute, as loud as possible. Just to get the feeling of really pushing.
My freebuzzing and mpc buzzing every dag is less then 2 minutes. I do play as soft as possible often.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 27, 2017, 11:40AM »

Great info. I had exactly the same question.

Could someone explain why playing really quietly is good for developing as a trombone player? And how much of your practice should you devote to it? Is it like free-buzzing?

Thanks!
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 27, 2017, 11:44AM »

Same curiosity...
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #11 on: Nov 27, 2017, 02:59PM »

Have you ever tried it?
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« Reply #12 on: Nov 27, 2017, 03:38PM »

Great info. I had exactly the same question.

Could someone explain why playing really quietly is good for developing as a trombone player? And how much of your practice should you devote to it? Is it like free-buzzing?

Thanks!


I find that soft playing is like putting my technique under a microscope. For me, Loud playing presents its own challenges but I find it can cover up a few weak areas in how you play....

I find that its hard to have your airflow evenly when playing soft, and finding just the right balance for good articulation in quiet playing can be tricky. I bet you have heard plenty of players enter soft passages with terrible attack, uneven sounds and poor pitch.

I find that if I can play something REALLY well at an extremely soft dynamic then usually its not too difficult to play it very loud as well. The opposite doesnt seem to apply though.... at least for me.

Having said that, I think the best way to work on soft playing is to try and match it to you loud playing. Play loud, and gradually take the dynamic down on whatever excersise you are playing. Dont ever compromise that ease or airflow, attack and resonance of sound just because you are playing softer. I like to think of my soft playing as exactly the same as my loud playing in approach, just on a smaller scale.
I believe they go hand in hand with each other, but I bet you will find that as your soft playing improves you will be amazed at some improvements in other areas of your playing too without you realising!
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« Reply #13 on: Nov 27, 2017, 04:02PM »

Yup, I found my loud stuff got a lot better and (most impressively to me) easier after doing lots of soft playing.
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« Reply #14 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:20AM »

And when soft is too soft ?
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #15 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:26AM »

When YOU can't hear it.
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« Reply #16 on: Nov 30, 2017, 06:20AM »

Have you ever tried it?

Hi Doug,

Of course. I'm always looking for different ways to improve. A few of my observations:

1. My aperture 'pops' open off to the side when I'm playing whisper quiet. I have to work hard to centre it.
2. Overtone exercises to higher tones are easier at this low volume. But I'm reaching the notes differently. It's more of a pucker plus the use of my tongue level (at least I notice it a lot more). It really feels like I'm whistling the high notes.
3. The overtone exercise, slurring between the partials, and keeping the air flowing, is a lot more challenging.
4. Articulation exercises aren't the same. They seem more like strength building for the tongue, but there's no interaction with the airflow.
5. It's a lot more comfortable holding the trombone for 30 minutes without the mute in (I have a Yamaha silent brass mute).

I think answering "why" it's effective would help me pick a subset of exercises that this whisper playing is most beneficial for.

On a related note, I'm doing the "Cat Anderson" 5-minute whisper C exercise on the cornet with my son. Blowing a whisper middle c for 5 minutes (breathing allowed!) That seems to be purely to build endurance. We've done a 5 days in a row, but so far, nothing to report, except my son is definitely bored with it!

Cheers, Pete
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 05, 2017, 01:06AM »

Hi Doug,

Of course. I'm always looking for different ways to improve. A few of my observations:

1. My aperture 'pops' open off to the side when I'm playing whisper quiet. I have to work hard to centre it.
2. Overtone exercises to higher tones are easier at this low volume. But I'm reaching the notes differently. It's more of a pucker plus the use of my tongue level (at least I notice it a lot more). It really feels like I'm whistling the high notes.
3. The overtone exercise, slurring between the partials, and keeping the air flowing, is a lot more challenging.
4. Articulation exercises aren't the same. They seem more like strength building for the tongue, but there's no interaction with the airflow.
5. It's a lot more comfortable holding the trombone for 30 minutes without the mute in (I have a Yamaha silent brass mute).

I think answering "why" it's effective would help me pick a subset of exercises that this whisper playing is most beneficial for.

On a related note, I'm doing the "Cat Anderson" 5-minute whisper C exercise on the cornet with my son. Blowing a whisper middle c for 5 minutes (breathing allowed!) That seems to be purely to build endurance. We've done a 5 days in a row, but so far, nothing to report, except my son is definitely bored with it!

Cheers, Pete
1. If your aperture wants to be to the side, there's at least a possibility that you shouldn't fight it, let it be there.  Not everybody should play "centered.". I certainly don't.
2. I can't say for sure without seeing it, but that sounds like a good thing.
3. Yes it's challenging and good for you.
4. I probably wouldn't use this kind of playing for articulation exercise, and "strength building for the tongue" may not be a good thing.
5. Yes, one of the reasons I don't like to  practice with any mute.
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 05, 2017, 08:02AM »

snip...

On a related note, I'm doing the "Cat Anderson" 5-minute whisper C exercise on the cornet with my son. Blowing a whisper middle c for 5 minutes (breathing allowed!) That seems to be purely to build endurance. We've done a 5 days in a row, but so far, nothing to report, except my son is definitely bored with it!


I'm pretty sure the Cat Anderson routine calls for a whisper G (not a C - the low C doesn't engage the chops enough and the in-the-staff C often introduces other issues.) -- and many people don't play it correctly.  They just play it soft and that's not what Cat was advocating.  It has to be played so the sound almost isn't there at all.  For me, I find it helps with both efficiency and with range.  YMMV, of course.

And for me, Doug's exercises have been more beneficial overall, for all my brass playing.  (But I do occasionally do the whisper G when I'm working my trumpet chops.)

--Andy in OKC
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 05, 2017, 08:37AM »

But realize I've actually worked with Andy directly, both by Skype and in person.
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