BRASS BASICS

Memorize this sentence:
The column of air provided by the
brass player sets the vibration of the
musician's lips in motion,
amplifying the sound trough an
expanding bell.

Memorize the four basic parts of
any brass instrument:
1 - mouthpiece
2 - conical leadpipe
3 - cylindrical section of tubing
(containing valves or slide)
4 - an expanding bell

Although different fundamental pitches are utilized
depending on the length of a brass instrument, the
structure/intervallic pattern of the overtone series
(also known as harmonic series) is always the
same:
*So in other words, every brass instrument does not have
the SAME exact overtone series, but the intervallic pattern
of the harmonic series, is always the same (see Whitener, pg 5)

The fundamental is the first note in the overtone
series (i.e. the lowest note that can physically be
played using the length of tubing)
*it should be noted that the fundamental is infrequently used in
performance practice, and depending on the player and the
mouthpiece being used, may not even be playable



These are the harmonic series as they appear on
the trumpet. With the succession of fingerings (0,
2, 1, 1-2, etc. as seen below), the trumpet is
lengthened slightly to create a new overtones
series, and hence, a new set of of notes.
Question: Which partial do these examples start
on? Why? Which partial do they end on? Why?

Temperature can affect intonation!
FLAT SHARP

In brass playing, inhalation should
always occur from the mouth, NOT
the nose. Why?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp-gCvW8PRY
Mechanics of respiration:
Inhale = contraction downward of diaphragm,
flattening out; increases volume of chest
horizontally and vertically; lungs should feel as if
they are filling from the bottom upwards.
Exhale = relaxation upward of diaphragm back to
its natural dome-like state.

Common problems of breath
control:
1 – Shallow breaths (i.e. clavicular
breathing/upper chest breathing)
is indicative of a weak inhalation sound (hee) and
movement of shoulders/upper body

Common problems of breath
control:
2 – Stale air occurs when the brass player does
not expel all of their air before taking another
breath, causing possible hyperventilation. Solved
by encouraging fewer, larger breaths.



Common problems of breath
control:
3 – Setting the breath occurs when the brass
player inhales and “stalls” the exhalation of their
air for a period of time. The inhalation/exhalation
process should be cyclical, meaning that the
height of inhalation is when exhalation should
commence without a period of holding air in-
between

Common problems of breath
control:
4 – Slow moving columns of air are caused by
unnecessary tension in the throat, abdominals,
tongue and produces an unsupported weak tone.
Relaxation of these points should be encouraged
to release the column of air more efficiently.
*See Bailey pg. 7-8 for strategies to improve inhalation/exhalation

When breathing in through the mouth, the brass
player should strive to create as little resistance
as possible (saying “oh” as inhaling, allowing the
rib cage to expand, etc.)
----------------------------------
During exhalation, however, there are at least
THREE major points of resistance:

1 – The glottis
should be open
and relaxed to
create as little
resistance as
possible during
exhalation
(whisper “hoe”)

2 – The tongue
placement can
be used to
create varying
degrees of
resistance, at
both points of
articulation, as
well as in
sustaining
notes (i.e.
vowel shapes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpOwuAMqFTA

3 – The
aperture is the
space created
between the
lips (“hole”) as
the column of
air passes
between them.
Its size is
determined by
the degree of
lip tension,
amount of air,
and the velocity
of that air.
Blair Bollinger playing a middle Bb on a
glass trombone mouthpiece.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoxnhjLMVBo