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Ensemble Exercises for a bigger sound



 
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akerber41
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:22 pm    Post subject: Ensemble Exercises for a bigger sound Reply with quote

I am a trumpet player leading a big band, and my trumpet section needs some work. They tend to play too timidly (we play a hybrid of swing and rock 'n' roll, so I need some more oomph), and I'd like to help them develop a more imposing ensemble sound. I'm a fairly accomplished player myself, but I have very little teaching experience, so I'm looking for exercises that we can do as a group that can help ground my continuous advice of "more air". (note: although I am a trumpet player, I do understand the difference between presence and volume, so I'm not trying to just make them play louder) I didn't know enough about music to really grasp the mechanics of what I was learning during my earlier fundamentals phases, so while I have the skills myself, I can't teach them effectively.

I've been doing some low tones with varying dynamics, as poor air support in the low register becomes very apparent (in contrast to the middle register), so that's been helping. We're also working on some listening, I've been using some Maynard Ferguson recordings as examples because even outside of Maynard, his trumpet section has a sound that's similar to what I'm going for. If you have any ideas of great trumpet sections from music history, that would be great as well.

But my main thing is that I need some exercises we can do, as I'm having trouble articulating the specifics of faster/more/high or low pressure air. I would like to work on:

-Moving more air correctly and effectively at multiple volumes
-Playing with a more rounded/fat sound (regardless of volume)
-Tuning to each other

Any advice/ideas would be greatly appreciated, thank you!
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usually sound problems are not air problems. If the players don't have tonal development more air pressure will yield little improvement.
Have the players practice low and softly in their individual practice to develop tonal efficiency and clean attacks. Not just long tones but simple exercises such as Clarke studies, Vizzutti book 1, or Pat Harbison's technical studies for modern trumpet. Use varying articulations and slur patterns.

Save the dynamic playing for rehearsals and gigs and you may be surprised at the result.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to the above, keep in mind that good ensemble intonation has a direct effect on balance and carrying presence.
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 3:46 am    Post subject: Re: Ensemble Exercises for a bigger sound Reply with quote

akerber41 wrote:
I am a trumpet player leading a big band, and my trumpet section needs some work. They tend to play too timidly (we play a hybrid of swing and rock 'n' roll, so I need some more oomph), and I'd like to help them develop a more imposing ensemble sound. I'm a fairly accomplished player myself, but I have very little teaching experience, so I'm looking for exercises that we can do as a group that can help ground my continuous advice of "more air". (note: although I am a trumpet player, I do understand the difference between presence and volume, so I'm not trying to just make them play louder) I didn't know enough about music to really grasp the mechanics of what I was learning during my earlier fundamentals phases, so while I have the skills myself, I can't teach them effectively.

I've been doing some low tones with varying dynamics, as poor air support in the low register becomes very apparent (in contrast to the middle register), so that's been helping. We're also working on some listening, I've been using some Maynard Ferguson recordings as examples because even outside of Maynard, his trumpet section has a sound that's similar to what I'm going for. If you have any ideas of great trumpet sections from music history, that would be great as well.

But my main thing is that I need some exercises we can do, as I'm having trouble articulating the specifics of faster/more/high or low pressure air. I would like to work on:

-Moving more air correctly and effectively at multiple volumes
-Playing with a more rounded/fat sound (regardless of volume)
-Tuning to each other

Any advice/ideas would be greatly appreciated, thank you!



In the trumpet section of my big band we have the same problems, more or less.
1)Getting that fat sound 2)intonation 3)becoming more responsive so as not to step in a fraction of a second too late

One intervention I made was to have the four of us play quartets, mostly chorals - finding these on the net ( www.free-scores.com ). Playing these softly, pp, is very revealing also demanding silent counting - no help from a rhythm section. Also the idea is to have people play beautifully, not blasting away - hence becoming attentive to attacks, holding the notes to their full value etc. Intonation turned out to be a main problem - but was thus highlited. And could be addressed in a "safe atmosphere" - no one had to be stressed by others - as during a gig.
Section rehearsals based on the current scores was/is also helpful.
Plus having people practice.....
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dstdenis
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Suggestions:

1. Get the bells out of their stands, either above or off to the sides.

2. Make sure the rhythm section isn’t playing too loud.

3. Make sure everyone is playing in tune with a good sound.

4. Encourage everyone to play together with style. It’s a more fun, positive approach than talking about mechanics, and yet it will lead them toward the sound you want.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:28 am    Post subject: Re: Ensemble Exercises for a bigger sound Reply with quote

Seymor B Fudd wrote:

...
3)becoming more responsive so as not to step in a fraction of a second too late ...

---------------------------------------------------
With 'timid players', late & too soft is a problem. It is vital to have the 'air' ready to play, and the confidence (and skill) to release the note at the correct time and with the appropriate loudness.

Many scores are marked with the 'ensemble' loudness, but if the actual notes are part of a melody line they need to be slightly louder.

For timing of articulations, hand clapping the rhythm can help everyone learn to be in sync.

Jay
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mafields627
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out The Breathing Gym.
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jhahntpt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long tones, lip bends, lip slurs, and breathing exercises.
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JVL
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hello
i agree with posters like kalijah & al. about developping the resonance and cleanness by practicing pp. Teach them do it with a tonic aperture, i mean without pinching/closing the aperture; try, playing pp, to get and keep the tonicity and aperture you'll use while playing ff.
This with the right lip alignment/horn angle, when they add the breath and abdominal support, they'll able to play loud with a rich sound.
Practicing the aperture control with the Bobby Shew "yes-no" exercice will help too.
best
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gchun01
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:53 am    Post subject: uit Reply with quote

Lots of good suggestions here that I agree with especially:

1) bells out of the stands

2) playing in tune

But a more aggressive sound can come from tight ensemble phrasing. You can actually play softer when articulations are exaggerated and the section sound is more compact.

Quite often, when a director as for more aggressive sound, the brass tend to lean toward a loud, often blary sound. While that might work for outdoor pep band playing, it ruins the sound of a jazz ensemble.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kehaulani wrote:
In addition to the above, keep in mind that good ensemble intonation has a direct effect on balance and carrying presence.


You beat me to it, that’s exactly what I was going to mention.

Also, IF part of the problem really is the players being timid, mention that if they are holding back for fear of fracking a note, THAT can make it more likely that they will. I have young students who do this, I have done it myself years ago.

Brad
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