A lot of the material I'm going to post, both videos and text, is going to be to do with playing, all aimed at you brass players out there who are looking to improve. I'll do a blog on a different topic each week, so stay tuned!
If you want a more personal routine or exercise tailored to your needs, then don't hesitate to book an online lesson. Long notes have long been considered one of the essential parts of a brass player's daily routine, and I strongly agree. I think all elements of the routine are as crucial as the other, and all work in harmony to make us better players. Still, I've always admired the simplicity of long notes and the benefits that arise from practicing such a simple exercise.
Why? One of the cool things about practicing long notes is that they unconsciously fix areas of our playing. If you practice them with a clear goal in mind of what you want to sound like, then they can help correct and improve essential aspects of our playing without getting bogged down by unnecessary micromanaging or physical analysis. By setting an end goal in sight, and then merely playing the exercise, we will start to see improvement. All this is very much in the Arnold Jacobs Song and Wind school of thought. The reason long notes are so useful for this is because of their simplicity. Long notes are probably the most simple thing we can practice on our instruments, so therefore, if we play them correctly, that's going to have a positive knock-on effect on many other areas of our playing. How? I have attached two long note exercises to this blog, a regular exercise, and one for seasoned veterans of the long note club! I recommend starting with the more straightforward exercise, only moving onto the advanced one when the first exercise can be played with ease (no tiredness, stiffness, or excessive pressure). Try to envisage the best sound possible before each note in the exercise, along with the correct pitch (try using a piano app... or an actual piano!) Focus on that perfect sound, then merely breath in, and play the note. Try to keep the gap between breathing in and playing the note as short as possible, and don't worry about where your tongue is when you articulate, your body will put it in the right place as you progress. Make sure to rest for at least five seconds in between notes. I like to start my long notes pianissimo with a crescendo to forte then a diminuendo back down to pianissimo, but it's not essential! How close was the sound that came out of your bell to the sound in your head? Better? Worse? If worse, try and improve on the next note; if better, set higher aspirations! I hope this helps! Dan
Simple Long Notes
Advanced Long Notes