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"Give It Some Wellie" - Brass Player Tip - Play Everything Louder!

In this blog post I am going to give you a really easy brass playing tip that you can implement instantly and get great results. This tip will not only help develop your dynamic range, but it will also help your overall control, stamina, sound quality and range. Literally by just doing this one thing, you will start to notice improvements in your playing.

Play Loud Brass

As humans, we are generally lazy. When it comes to practice as a musician, it is essential that you practice good habits. When we practice alone at home, there can be many distractions and things that get in our way to having a really effective practice session.

A lot of students I teach, have expressed a difficulty in playing louder at home because they worry about their neighbours or people they live with. But, if you do not play to your full potential, you will not make improvements.

The very first time I played for a good brass band as a youngster, I instantly realised that I needed to play louder. After a few weeks of band rehearsals, I started to notice a new strength in my playing. Things felt different, in a good way. I had a better sound and could project it further with less effort.

Using a practice mute can have this impact, when used correctly. See my past blog post about that by following this link.

Using a breathing device regularly and correctly can also do the same. See my past blog post about that by following this link.

Nothing is like just working with your instrument, no gimmicks, no treading carefully, just good old air power. Or as some might say, "give it some wellie!"

As with any brass playing tips. The number one thing is to make sure you have a good routine, that covers all the basic fundamentals, and you do it every day. If you wanted help setting up a routine, I am available for in person or online lessons, or find a local brass expert.

It is also important to experiment, because what works for one player might not work for you. What your teacher tells you might not even be the best advice for you. If you are not making progress, but you are trying, then you need to try something else.

This brass player tip involves playing louder. All I want you to try is adding an extra 10% to all your dynamics, all the time, every single note you play. Focus on using plenty of air to support your sound. Make your sound get bigger and wider, not just louder. Whether you are alone at home, playing in a band or any ensemble, just consciously boost your volume to the next level up.

If you are working on your soft playing, and have a specific piece of music you are using or preparing for a performance, then of course, do what you need to do. Do not neglect playing very quietly! Separate that from this idea.

However, even with soft dynamics, I find that in most cases, playing incredibly soft is not necessary. If you can increase your dynamic range by finding a new level at the loud end, then it will make playing softer easier. I am not saying ignore super soft dynamics but generally, I find playing louder consistently makes me a better player all round. It strengthens muscles and could be likened to running an extra 10 miles or lifting a higher set of weights. Playing louder all the time, probably helps you have better control when you do need to play ppp.

All you need to do as a musician is ensure that everything you play has sufficient dynamic contrast. The label we put on the dynamic we play is actually irrelevant. We just have to use dynamics to portray the emotion of the music, so it has an impact on the listener.

Here are some examples for how and when

you can implement this new tip:

Practice long notes louder. It will challenge your breath control more than ever, give you a more centred sound and help with tuning.

Practice technical areas at a louder volume. For example, triple tonguing will improve if you do it at a louder dynamic. More of your tongue is needing to move and strength will develop especially if you are not used to doing it like this.

Do high practice loudly. I have a pretty solid daily routine, the final exercise of my routine is a high note exercise. I always try and play the high notes, louder, more fuller, richer, warmer etc. I think of brass musicians who I admire like Gary Curtin, Sergio Carolino, James Morrison and David Childs who can play extreme high notes unbelievably loud, most importantly, with a quality tone. If you wish to do that, then try this method.

Loud and high
High and loud!

Play slow melodies louder. If you work on your slow playing then try doing it louder. Even if, in reality, when you perform it live it will be played softer, the strength gained from this sort of work out is incredibly valuable.

Hopefully this gives you an idea, there could be many examples but the bottom line is just try it.

As a side thought, it is good to consider where you practice. Finding a dry acoustic or somewhere that has little to no reverb can help a lot. Even though it might be tempting to practice in a room that makes you sound good, it won't help you in the long term.

Make sure you are playing in a relaxed, natural way. Never force the sound. Playing louder shouldn't tire you out. Learn how to play in an even more relaxed way, use your existing strength and focus on removing all tension from everywhere (apart from the stomach muscles).

I hope this post can help brass players with playing louder. If you like it, please help me share with others and consider signing up to be notified of new blog updates.

You can also see blog posts shared on my Facebook Alchemy For Musicians page - Facebook

Thank you for reading. ❤

Mark Glover


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