Music Fundamentals

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Music Fundamentals
Volume 1

Breathing Exercises

-Put instruments down on the ground

-Winds are in an Arc

-Tips for success:

-Relaxed Body

-Avoid Tension in your shoulders, back

-Place hands on Abdomen- Feel muscles while breathing

-Breath in for 8 counts and out for 8 counts

-Stay “Open” and relaxed when breathing

-Keep air warm and full

-Avoid cold and shallow breathing

-Shoulders are down and relaxed

-Roll shoulders out to release tension

-There should be no visible signs of tension

-Don’t mistake lack of tension for lack of air

-“Open” breath will encourage an “Open” quality of sound

-Breath in 4 counts and out for 8

-Less time so don’t necessarily take in the same amount of air the only goal is to take in as much air while staying relaxed

-No break in between inhale and exhale

-Breath in 2 counts and out for 8

-No tension in the quick 2 counts in

-Same feeling of relaxation as the breath in 8

-Breath in 2 counts and out 8 at a faster tempo

-Try not to change your breathing concepts based on tempo

-See how calm you can be

-Stay calm and relaxed when performing, even under the toughest conditions

-Breath in 1 count and out 8

-Breath on count 8 every time

-Do all breathing exercises on the move at varying tempos

-Practice breathing while marching from set to set

-Do not skip steps when it comes to fundamentals

Breathing Progression

-Breathing in Arc

-Breathing on the Move

-Mark Time

-Without solid fundamental skills, performance is limited

-Fundamentals do not waster time, they “save” time as the season progresses

-Same Exercises with F Concert

-In Arc

-In Block

-Set to Set

Sound Production

-Horns up in playing positions

-Check for feelings of tension

-Keep brass 10 degrees above parallel

-Relax and “shake out” any tension

-4 in and 8 out Finger F Concert

-Don’t change the breathing process when you pick up the instrument

-Even though there’s a different sound, there should still not be any tension

-Keep face and body calm when you breathe and when you play

-Breath around the mouthpiece and don’t move your face or horn

-Band members should “police” themselves during rehearsal so they maintain fundamentals at all times

-1 count in Sustain for 8 Release on Count 9

-Unnecessary movement can cause distortion in your sound

-Slightly crescendo long tones to develop a sense of direction in the sound

-Music either comes from somewhere or goes somewhere

-Make sure dynamics involve only a change in volume, not in sound

-Play 5 F concerts on your own- Find F concert on your face

Don’t worry about playing in tune, or together, just discover what it feels like

-Use tuner to help establish pitch

1. Hum

2. Sing “Da”

-Try to get the “dah” syllable to resonate vocally when singing

3. Play

-Start the note without fuzz

-The start of the sound must get to the director immediately

-Starting a tone clearly is often one of the toughest tasks for young players

-Go down the row and listen to everyone start their tones

-The front end of a note should sound as good as the middle of the note

-Students must learn the “feel” of all pitches on their faces for all notes in the show

-Create a sound that has energy, the quality of sound alone from your ensemble should be a wonderful effect

-Get one note to sound great before you move on

-Strive for a beautiful sound on every attack

-Air is the key! Fill the horn full with air.

-Players should put their sound “inside” the sound nearest to them

-Players should try to “match” all aspects of playing with those around them

-Each section should try to produce a uniform “color” of sound at all times

-Help each player establish a quality of sound and understand ensemble concepts

Balance and Tuning

-Fundamentals cannot be skipped if excellence is the goal

-Always aim for pure and resonant sound at the beginning of the note

-Put your side “inside” the sound of the players around you

-“Listen” is not a useful enough instruction for young players

-Listening-Producing Good Sound-Matching sound

-You must have examples of: Listening, good sound, and ensemble matching

-Find professional recordings of each instrument in your band as examples

-Encourage players to find a “role model” sound to aim for

-Use recordings or live performances for examples of matched sound

-The concept of matching sound should come before tuning

-Matching involves striving for the same pitch and sound quality

-Using the tuner still involves listening! It allows for precision tuning.

-Use the tuner to “calibrate” your players to establish a good starting pitch

-Most ensembles play sharp, especially in marching band!

-Turn on Tuner and Hum

-Dah Nice and Full

-Sing half-steps with piano to help train student’s ears

-In Ensemble tuning, you must learn to tune poor notes on your instruments

-Tune Individually with the tuner

-When tuning poor notes, drastic changes to the horn will mess up other pitches

-Individual tuning does not automatically make great ensemble tuning

-Play F concert together and match pitch

-For ensemble matching, place sound “inside” Tuba or Bass Clarinet Sound

-Play F and fit into lower sound

-Don’t jump straight to notes and rhythms Train students to Listen first!

Section Tuning

-Play F concert

-Rate the sound on a scale of 1-10

-Constantly listen and adjust and always try your best

-Combine Smaller sections together and match pitch

-If you’re not afraid to adjust in a small group you won’t be afraid to adjust in a larger group

-If the low instruments are sharp, everyone will be out of tune

-Higher instruments should be listening down to lower instruments

Volume 2

Articulation/The Beginning of the Note

-Strive for an instantaneous response from your instruments

-Keys to creating a Beautiful Beginning:

-Relaxed Body

-Correct embouchure

-No Extra movement

-Proper Airspeed

-Light tongue (90% air-10% toungue)

9 count Tone Exercise

-With Metronome playing, play Concert F for 9 Counts

-Correct Airspeed and Embouchure= Clear Sound

-No Scoops

-Keep your face still (Distorts Tone)

-Use 5 counts, 3 Counts, 1 Count

-Goal is to start clearly on each note as you did on 9 count

-Every time you re articulate it’s another chance for perfection

-Keep your horn on your face between Exercises

-Sound like you’re playing a long tone every time regaurless of actual note length

-Breath and play as if you are going to sustain the note longer than one count

-Play these articulation exercises on the move

The End of the Note

-Clarity is achieved by consistent releases

-The end of the note is the beginning of silence

-Use plenty of air at the end of a note

-Judges and audience can hear phrases that are not completed with air

-Keep a consistent vowel sound “Dah” nor “Dahoh”

-Play 5 count tone

Focus on a great sound at the end of the note, seek resonance and ring

-Avoid tension in the upper body which can cause a change in the sound

-Move air all the way to the release without a harsh tongue or closed throat

-Use the metronome often but also do the exercise “on the hands”

-Build overtones from the bottom up

-Common Mistakes at the end of the Note:

-Moving the instrument on the face/lips

-Using a harsh tongue-stop

-Cutting the air off too early

Connected Notes

-Connect notes without other noise or distortion

-Keep airspeed steady

-Use a very light tongue

Articulation Exercise

-Teaching Progression

-One Whole Note

-Two connected half notes

-Four connected (legato) Quarter Notes

-Eight Connected (Legato) Eighth Notes

-Sustained Note

-Rest 4 beats between each

-Tempo is decided by the second note

-Play through the note with forward momentum

-Keep the tongue stroke consistent

-Play the articulation exercise on the move

Non-Connected Notes

-75% Sound, 25% Space

-Use 16th note pulse to identify 75%

-“Long and Lifted” notes should not change your attack or release

-A shorter note value does not mean a decrease in quality of sound

-Be consistent with vowel sounds

-Teaching Progression

-One Whole note

-Two Connected Half Notes

-4 connected (100%) Quarter notes

-4 “Lifted” (75%) Quarter notes

-4 “Staccato”(50%) Quarter Notes

-8 connected (100%) Eighth notes

-8 “Lifted” (75%) Eighth notes

-8 “Staccato”(50%) Eighth Notes

-Sustain Whole Note

-Rest 4 beats between each

-Once with metronome, once without

-Keep consistent tongue stroke

-Do not lose sound, keep air moving

-Try it at different tempos

-Add triplets to exercise when ready

-Key: Consistency of tongue stroke, Note Length, and release

-Use this exercise daily

-Introduction to Singing

-Using the piano helps students to hear pitches

-Try to match each other and the piano when singing

-Singing Down by half steps to a Perfect fifth

-Start on B-flat

-Teaching Progression

-Minor 2nd

-Major 2nd

-Minor 3rd

-Major 3rd

-Perfect 4th

-Augmented 4th (Tri-tone)

-Perfect 5

- Then switch to concert F

-2 Beats per note

-Want to work up to singing intervals Down and Up

-The listening Quiz (Ear Training Intervals)

-Know what pitch you’re aiming for by memorizing the sound.

-Piccolo players must practice higher-pitched intervals

-Tuba players must practice lower pitched intervals

Intervals using mouthpiece

-Woodwinds sing, Brass use mouthpiece

-Pretend you are playing using your entire instrument

-Avoid sliding around between pitches…create pure tone

-Use accurate embourchures

-Do singing exercises

-Stand with good posture

-Teaching Progression

-Minor 2nd

-Major 2nd

-Minor 3rd

-Major 3rd

-Perfect 4th

-Augmented 4th (Tri-tone)

-Perfect 5

Playing Intervals using instruments

-Recovery is very important. After you make a mistake adjust quickly

-Don’t scoop up to higher notes

-Adjust intonation instantly while switching notes


-Point of Exercise “A” is to constantly listen and adjust

-A Major triad is a good place to start before exercise A

-Understand the ‘tuning tendencies’ of your instrument

-Root is in tune, 3rd is flat, fifth is sharp

-Make sure that the students learn how to listen and adjust without the tuner

-Listen down to the lowest instrument

-Constantly adjust

Chord Exercise A

-Tendencies of sustained pitches changes as chords below it change

-Clarity, Intonation, and Balance

-Most ensembles will play out of tune on this exercise for a long time. Be Patient.

-Keep working on it until the students can adjust intonation like a professional would.

-Triads, Intervals, and chords should be practiced on the move too!

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