17 Guided Practice Lesson 1.2


Students will be able to:

  • identify the proper setup of their instrument that allows for a relaxed, consistent, and full tone
  • demonstrate proper deep breathing with engagement of the lower abdomen and expansion of the rib cage
  • alter the pitch of the mouthpiece by using fast and slow air speed
  • produce a pitch consistently over four counts


  • Instrument
  • Metronome


  1. Posture Check. Make sure that your hips are lined up underneath your shoulders. The head should be comfortable looking forward. The shoulders should be dropped without tension.
  2. Two sips. Breath in for four counts. Hold your breath for four counts. Take two sips of air (you should feel discomfort in your rib cage as you stretch your lungs). Exhale four counts. Repeat this activity four times. Each time you repeat it, try to take a little more air in to expand the rib cage.
  3. Long tones on mouthpiece. Breathe on one count. Play four four counts. Rest for three counts. Repeat four times. The goal is to have consistent pitch and tone each time you play the long tone again. Make sure to expand the lungs fully with each breath, feeling the expansion of the lower abdomen as you inhale.
  4. Pitch bending on the mouthpiece. Play a pitch for two counts. Slur to a lower pitch for two counts. Return to the upper pitch for two counts. To drop the pitch, think about changing the vowel that is created by your oral cavity. Saying Ahhh-Oooo-Ahhh approximates the change in oral cavity space and air speed. Slower air and a more relaxed embouchure will produce a lower pitch, while faster air and a firmer embouchure (especially in the corners of the mouth) will produce a higher pitch. For today, there is not concern of what the pitches are but rather that the pitch changes.
  5. Experimentation with the instrument. After placing the mouthpiece in the instrument and giving the mouthpiece a quarter turn, experiment with the positioning of the instrument in relation with your body. Experiment with the angle of the instrument; the placement of shoulders, elbows, and hands; the positioning of the head; etc. The goal is to find a spot that the instrument rests comfortably with your body and you are able to produce a relaxed, full tone. While instrument posture may feel unfamiliar or uncomfortable, especially at first, playing instruments shouldn’t hurt! Once you find a position, see if you can bring the instrument back to that same position.
  6. Long tones on the instrument. Using the posture that you have established, play for four counts and rest for four counts. Make sure to breathe on count 4, and try to create the same relaxed, full tone each time. The pitch that you are playing is not important for the moment, but you should try to play the same pitch each time to start build control and consistency.


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Brass Techniques and Pedagogy by Brian N. Weidner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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