In the past I generally avoided low register “blasting” in my warm-up and daily maintenance routine, but recently I’ve had some positive results using Denise Tryon’s routine. If you aren’t familiar with this one it is worth checking out. It’s a bit shorter than some other published materials, and covers all the basics in around thirty minutes.
Getting back to low note blasting, my previous experience was that too much of it early in the day made the high range feel unfocused. I still played over the full range of the horn in my daily routine, but left the extreme fortissimo exercises for later practice sessions. However, during a recent evaluation of my regular practice materials, I decided to incorporate some low, loud patterns back into my daily regimen. After two months of doing the exercise found in the Tryon Routine every day, here are a few of the benefits I’ve noticed:
- It really gets the air moving. Breathing exercises are great, but playing as loud as possible (with a good sound) in the low range requires moving huge amounts of air. When done efficiently, it can help open up the rest of the range as well.
- It helps loosen up stiff chops. I realize now that this should have been obvious, but old habits die hard, and I really had to give these exercises a chance to experience this particular benefit.
- Flexibility and consistency in and out of the low range gets a lot easier. Passages that go across the break range (ex. opening of Ein Heldenleben) have become more fluid and dependable.
Needless to say, I’ve changed my thinking about low note blasting! However, I would offer a few caveats:
- Avoid doing it first thing. I would recommend at least a few minutes of gentle, mid-range warming up before jumping into any kind of range or dynamic extremes.
- Avoid distorting the embouchure. Looking back on it, I believe the problems I experienced with previous forays into this territory stemmed from over manipulating and/or distorting the lips.
- If things aren’t working, change something. If, after trying a new variation/addition to your routine, you aren’t experiencing positive results, don’t be afraid to change. Make notes about what you notice, and keep looking for ways to be more efficient.
All right, time to go out there and get blasting!