3 Ways to Make a Beautiful Sound: Brass

Breath support and embouchure make or break a brass player’s sound.

1. Embouchure and Placement

Embouchure

The corners of the lips should be firm, but not pulled back (like some woodwinds). The jaw should be open so that the teeth aren’t touching. Clenched teeth mean a strained sound. To adjust, pretend to yawn while keeping your moth closed and feel the space.

To practice maintaining embouchure, try buzzing with only the mouthpiece, or practice on a Berp. Buzzing will show you how you’re using your breath and embouchure. The Berp, a tool that lets you buzz while holding the instrument in place, will take this a step further.

Finger Placement

Remember where your fingertips should be: on the keys of the instrument, not hanging over the side. Proper placement will help keep the valves from sticking, and maintaining your instrument is another way to make a good sound on your horn.

2. Maintain Your Instrument

Your slide and valves can affect your sound if they aren’t well maintained. Oil them regularly and have your instrument serviced at least once a year for a deep cleaning.

If you’re still using the oil that came with your instrument, consider upgrading to a better quality oil. We think Blue Juice is a good one to try!

3. Take a break

Beginning students often sound great at the start of rehearsal, but by the end they’re tired and it will show. This is normal, and they’ll build endurance over time. Until then, they can play through their music with just their hands.

Students can also listen to recordings while playing through their fingerings. They’ll have a better feel of their music, and more importantly, they will be listening to an experienced player’s sound. They can start to mimic the quality tone of a professional player.

 

Remember: Every player and instrument is different, so what works for a trumpeter might not work for a trombonist. To really get the sound right, ask for some time with your director, or try out some private lessons. We have brass teachers at all three of our locations that love working with new students!