5 Foundations of Great Sound

1. Is your sound functional or foundational?

Is your sound a function of your air, lips, embouchure reacting in the correct ways to create the right dynamics for whatever the music is calling? Or is your sound the foundation of your playing? Another way to think about this is whether you are intentional about your sound, or it is just the resonance that is exiting your instrument when you blow through it correctly? Become intentional in what you want to sound like. When you do, your ear will bring function to your muscles and air in order to create your intended sound.

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2. Feed Your Ears

If you are not listening to a lot of different professional performers playing your instrument, then you are starving your ears! In order to become intentional about your sound, you need to feed your ears with great performances. From there you become obsessed with a performer or two and you can't help but start trying to imitate their sound. And by trying to imitate their sound, you have just created intention to your sound.

3. Assess Your Equipment

Your mouthpiece has a much larger effect on your sound that your instrument does. If you have a strong foundation built on a tone concept and an intention to create that sound, you will soon find that your mouthpiece is either helping or hurting your efforts in creating that sound. If your tonal foundation is set, the perfect mouthpiece for you will make it the easiest to create your intended sound. If you like your size, but the sound isn't quite right, Denis Wick makes a large variety of mouthpiece styles that share the same size but incorporate different shapes and weights which affect the tone production. 
Find out more about them here.

Denis Wick Practice Mute

4. Quick Fix

If you love your sound, and have a firm foundation in it, you may find that after a particularly strenuous practice session or performance, or a variety of other reasons, your tone is suffering. It could be damaged lip tissues, it could be that you played only loud for a week of performances and you lost your sensitivity in quiet playing. Regardless, you need to bring some balance back. The Denis Wick Practice mute is one of the best ways to do this. Practice in short intervals with the mute, in your middle register for a couple days, and you will soon see your sound return. If it is not possible to take a "practice mute retreat" for a few days, then do a slow warm-up on the mute, and even this small amount will bring back some balance. Denis Wick has a fantastic clinic that instructs students to uses the practice mute to open even the stuffiest of sounds. Check it out here.

Tuner Metrenome

5. Use All Your Resources

Tuner: Everyone who's reading this has one. Tuning has a huge effect on your sound, so make sure you are tuned up

Recording: Record yourself often. You might find that certain parts of your range are way out of tune, thus causing your tone issues. Train your ears to hear the correct pitch and nothing you'll be able to protect your intended tone from any distractions.

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