Showing posts with label Brass Instruments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brass Instruments. Show all posts

Thursday, July 20, 2017

TUBA - Music-Instruments of the World

The Tuba

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Types of TUBAS

As you may or may not know, several types of tubas exist. Each of these has its own tonal properties. Having so many versions of the same instrument can be confusing to anyone. I am writing this guide as a general reference when purchasing or identifying one.

[Man playing the tuba.]
Man playing Tuba - Photo by New York Public Library
Contrabass Tubas
Contrabasses are the most common type of tuba today and are the lowest-pitched. There are two types of Contrabasses, pitched in either Bb or C.

BB-flat Tuba
The BB-flat Tuba is the most common tuba in the U.S. today and are the largest standard tuba. These are used by many school bands because most other brass instruments used by high schools are also keyed in Bb. They are also used by some professional players. BB-flat tubas are often designed to handle the rough treatment of young tubists and sacrifice responsiveness and tone as a result.
BB-flat tubas are the contrabass of choice in German, Austrian, and Russian orchestras. They are the standard for use in concert and symphonic bands.

CC Tuba
CC tubas are build a whole step up from BB-flat models. They lack the lowest notes of a BB-flat tuba, although many add extra valves to make up for this. In the US, most professional tuba players play C-pitched tubas. These tubas are easier to play in the sharp keys, allowing them to work better playing in an orchestra (String parts are often written in the sharp keys to make them easier for them). They are build more for responsiveness and not durability.

These tubas are typically the next step up for advancing tuba players, at least in the US. However; they are not a necessity. A good BB-flat player can play anything written with a CC tuba in mind.

Bass Tubas
Bass tubas are smaller than the Contrabasses and naturally play higher.

E-flat Tuba
Eb Tubas generally play an octave above the contrabasses in a brass band. They are somewhat rare in the US, although in the UK they are the standard orchestral bass. These widely used in bands in the late 1800's and early 1900's. According to one source "nobody remembers why"...

F Tuba
F Tubas are used mainly by professional players for solo works and to play higher parts in some older pieces. They are the standard orchestral tuba in much of Europe, with BB-flat or CC tubas used when additional low end is needed.

Tuba Variations

The Sousaphone
Attributed to and named after John Phillip Sousa, Sousaphones designed for marching. They wrap around the body, resting on the left shoulder and the bell faces forward to project sound into the crowd. They are most commonly pitched in Bb and have just three valves, although some are in Eb. The originals were in C. Just watch out for the wind!

Bell front (recording) tubas
These tubas are upright, but have bells facing forward to project the sound.

Contrabasses (Marching Tubas)
Often seen in DCI competition (Drum Corps. International), these resemble upright tubas but rest on the left or right shoulder, bell pointed to the crowd. These are more awkward than sousaphones and are not common in high school bands. Some upright tubas can be converted to marching tubas with special lead pipes that are interchangeable. This saves bands with low budgets the expense of buying a tuba for each season.

As you can see, many types and variations of tuba exist, each with their own purpose in a band. Hopefully this guide will shed some light on these instruments.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Do You Want to Learn the TROMBONE?

The trombone is a member of the brass family and the horn and come in different sizes. The most common ones are the medium sized or tenor trombone and larger sized or bass trombone which are both pitched in Bb. They produce heavy sounds which are lower than the trumpet and are used when the orchestra is playing loud sections or in harmony with the higher horn and trumpet parts.

Trombones have a cylindrical shaped tube and a cup shaped mouthpiece and are related to the trumpets. But instead of valves which a trumpet has, a trombone has a moveable slide which moves in and out. A player will stop the slide at any of the seven positions to get the range of notes available to produce. At any of the positions a series of notes can be produced by tightening or slackening his lips. The notes produced are a series of natural notes called harmonics. When the slide is pulled out completely, the range of notes which can be produced will extend downwards for six semitones.

Trombone - Photo: Wikimedia CC

Like other brass instruments, the sound of the trombone is produced by blowing air through pursed lips producing a vibration that creates a standing wave in the instrument. When the player moves the slide out it extends the length of the air column and lowers the pitch.

Trombones are played in a variety of situations like orchestras, military bands, jazz bands, dance bands eg the big band.. <br>Orchestras generally have two tenors and one bass trombone. The other groups having varying numbers of trombone players.

Let's take a look at two well known trombone players. <br>1. Slide Hampton (Locksley Wellington "Slide" Hampton ) was a famous American trombonist, composer and arranger who played all around Europe after he was in his dad's band, named Hampton's Band. He toured with them a lot and is probably the best role model for starting trombonists. Slide Hampton was born in 1932.

2.Tommy Dorsey ( Thomas Francis Dorsey ) was a great American jazz trombone player as well as a trumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era. He had a smooth-toned trombone playing style and was known as "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing". He is famous for The Spell of the Blues and The Boogie Woogie. Tommy Dorsey was born <br>November 19, 1905 and died November 26, 1956.

You now know that the trombone is a brass instrument of varying sizes and can be played in a variety of situations. You have been given examples of two well know trombonists which could look up on YouTube and see if the sound tantalises your taste buds. Then you need to make the final decision; Do you want to learn the trombone?

Monday, June 19, 2017

TRUMPET MOUTHPIECES - Always Keep a Spare!

What should be the very first point of order that you think about when getting your trumpet ready to play - most real musicians will tell you to consider trumpet mouthpieces. That's right, you wouldn't be playing your trumpet if the mouthpiece was not in perfect operating order. Your trumpet mouthpiece get lots of abuse, isn't that where all of the sound is formed in the first place? That abuse, or heavy use can translate directly into very heavy wear and possible outright destruction. Always be prepared, and always carry a spare or extra mouthpiece in your trumpet case with you wherever you go - I guarantee that you'll never regret the decision!!

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Trumpet Mouthpiece - Photo  by    cmelnychuk 

It's a fact that these days there are a lot of knock-offs or imitation trumpet parts on the market. They're made in low cost countries where the labor is dirt cheap, and since the manufacturer isn't worried about protecting his or her name brand, substandard materials are often used, in addition to poorly trained employees to form and assemble those materials. What this means to the end user is that a poorly made mouthpiece is bought because of the astonishingly low price - and not the overall value.

Possible your next question might be what trumpet mouthpieces to get, how many should you have and which brand should you choose? Even if you don't know know a single fact about this topic,my advice to you is clear; never buy the absolute cheapest mouthpiece available. As you'll probably discover some time after the purchase, there is most likely a very good reason for the low amount and, aside from obvious motives like product damage or some thing similar, there are things you just can't take into consider, such as inferior materials which don't always make themselves known until further down the road. There may be a case of poor assembly - that always worries me, because I'll never know what the problem might be until I actually utilize the mouthpiece. By then, it's probably too late, and I may end up having to spend more money to get a top-quality mouthpiece, the one I should have bought initially, if I was using my head instead of just trying to be cheap.

There are plenty of great trumpet mouthpieces that you won't have to spend excessively for - for example the Jet-tone DS GOLD RIM or a Schilke Trumpet Mouthpiece, or how about a TRUMPET MENDEZ #2 MOUTHPIECE. Not one of these excellent mouthpieces cost more than $60, they also can be delivered directly to your doorstep in under a week's time! How's that for convenience - and value?

Don't purchase inferior, imitation trumpet mouthpieces, there are tons of top-quality, affordable mouthpieces that can provide you years of service for only a couple of bucks more than those nasty substandard pieces.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


History of the Flugelhorn

It is widely accepted that the flugelhorn was derived from the bugle design by Michael Saurle in the early 1800's. Flugelhorns were named from the German word Flügel which means wing or flank in English. In the beginning, flugelhorn was primarily used on the battlefield to organize the flanks in an army.

Flugelhorn - Photo by aaltonen 

Appearance and Use

Flugelhorns are a member of the horn family and a brass instrument that resemble trumpets but with a wider bore. The appearance of the flugelhorn has also been compared to a cornet, although the trumpet is probably a closer comparison. The flugelhorn traditionally has three valves and uses the same piston valve system of other brass instruments. Four valve and rotary valve version exist but they are not the norm. Some modern flugelhorns include a fourth valve as this is becoming more popular. Today the flugelhorn is used in jazz, brass band, and popular music applications. The tone is considered to be fat and mellow compared to a trumpet. The actual sound probably falls somewhere in between a trumpet and a horn.

Choosing a Flugelhorn

Resources about the flugel horn are hard to find as this is a truly unique brass instrument. If you have a local music instrument store that happens to sell flugelhorns you are lucky and probably want to try one out there. For most people, the best option for locating a flugelhorn will be on the internet. Flugel horns are expensive compared to other brass instruments but you will find that they are worth the price for the true brass instrument player due to the unique sound and playing qualities. It is possible to find good deals on the flugelhorn if you use the proper resources on the Web.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Getzen TRUMPETS Have Visual and Sound Appeal For Marching

When marching band season rolls around, it's not enough just to sound good, band members are putting on a visual show, too and most marching band musicians take pride in the look of their band instrument. Getzen trumpets not only sound great, they look great, too! For those trumpet players who switch to a flugelhorn or baritone horn for marching season, Getzen has them covered as well.

Getzen offers an extensive selection of trumpets. Student trumpets fall into the 300 and 400 series. One of the more popular student trumpets is the 390. They're workhorses, are sturdy, and most importantly, make great music. For the more advanced student, the 490 has a red brass bell, and its distinctive look will draw plenty of attention at parades or football games. The Getzen Capri 590 is an intermediate level trumpet that is available in silver plated finish, as are all Getzen instrument.

Getzen doesn't leave the committed trumpet player behind who goes professional, either. The Renaissance line is based on the prestigious Bach Stradivarius trumpet line. This has a more symphonic sound. Another line of professional Getzen trumpets is the Eterna series: the Eterna I, Eterna II, the 700, the 900, and the 1200. The Eterna was the instrument played byTonight Show bandleader Doc Severinson for years. The Eterna 700 is the most affordable Eterna model - suitable for the amateur who wants to get his or her hands on the best trumpet without breaking the budget. The Eterna 700S is a silver plated option. For those who turn pro or those who only want the very best, Getzen makes custom C and B-flat trumpets as part of their Edwards handcrafted line of instruments.

Trumpet players know that having a great sounding, great looking trumpet like a Getzen is a confidence boost that helps them play their very best.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Correct Breathing for WIND and BRASS PLAYERS

Details of a wind instrument.
Details of a wind instrument.
(Photo credit: 
A correct deep breathing technique is essential to playing any wind or brass instrument, but there are many misconceptions surrounding the way to breathe and what parts of your body are doing the work and what you should be doing in order to support the airflow.

And when I say support I mean a way of producing a constant and equal airflow that will produce the best sound on your instrument. A good analogy would be blowing the flame of a candle and keeping the "bend" of the flame constant as you blow across it rather than one quick breathe which blows the candle out.

Personally I was always told to support using the diaphragm, but actually this is impossible as the diaphragm deflates as you breathe out.

So what does the diaphragm do...? the muscle contracts and pulls downwards when we breath in, and returns to its original position when we breath out. Obviously this is a difficult theory to teach because we don't have X-ray vision and can't see what's happening inside our bodies while we teach someone or are playing our instrument. And this is where the misconception arouse from. The diaphragm really isn't that involved in breathing when playing a wind instrument, it's actually an involuntary muscle, we have no control over it at all! So how you can you possibly support using your diaphragm??

The truth is that the diaphragm is used on the inhale and the abdominal muscle group is used to ‘support’ the air on the exhale.

To find out if you are breathing correctily place your hand on the 'spongy' feeling area just below the V of the rib-cage. This is essentially the top edge of the abdominals. Then simulate a short, loud cough, or laugh. You should see and feel the muscle jump outwards along with the sound.

Next take your instrument and play a note that only requires one hand if possible (G on the sax, low C on the clarinet, middle C on the bassoon, etc.) Then place your free right hand back on the abdominals, pushing in slightly, and feel what it does when they play the note. They should feel the muscle pushing steadily out against the hand.

Hidden Danger

There is one thing you have to be aware of when learning this deep breathing technique!

When you push with your abdominal muscles your entire body tenses up and this tension particularly affects the throat and jaw, closing them off so that the air does not get through properly and you get a strangled sound.

So you need to be aware of being relaxed everywhere but your abdominal muscles. This may take some practice.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TUBA - Music-Instruments of the World

Tuba - Music-Instruments of the World

Monday, February 13, 2017

How to Play the TRUMPET - Learning a Brass Instrument!

A trumpet, foreground, a piccolo trumpet behin...
A trumpet, foreground, a piccolo trumpet
behind, and a flugelhorn in background
(Photo credit: 
Learning trumpet can be a very rewarding experience, it can also be one very frustrating experience as well if the student doesn't have a good teacher showing them the specifics of how to produce sound.  The most basic and fundamental part of playing any instrument is creating sound.  For a drummer, it starts with learning how to hit the head of the drum, the piano player - how to position their hands and which finger to use, etc.  But neither need to learn how to produce these sounds... the instrument does it for them.

Brass players are not nearly as fortunate!  Each player must start by getting their lips to buzz.  This is essentially blowing air through their lips and allowing the lips to vibrate.  Sounds simple, and it is... but it's not easy!  Especially if someone isn't given clear instructions on how to achieve this!  What I tell all of my beginning students is to think of keeping your lips in a relaxed closed position and to think about a kiss or a puckering action from the corners only!

Once I have a new student "free lip buzzing" (no mouthpiece, no horn), then we can move on to just the mouthpiece.  What this does is suddenly makes things easier for the student because the mouthpiece offers more support for the lips and a lot more resistance for the air.  Once we've achieved a good buzzing pattern with the mouthpiece, we then move to creating actual notes with the horn.

I believe that by giving the student a good solid foundation to fall back on, they will not be hindered by or plagued with embouchure problems in the future.  They will have a solid foundation for playing based on relaxed lips that are free to vibrate and air being pushed from the abs!

    Keith Fiala / Anna Romano
    For private trumpet lessons, ways to overcome range or sound problems, or to get a solid start on playing a brass instrument, please visit Brass Player Solution to contact Keith Fiala.

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