Two Suggestions to Improve Accuracy

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Following up on recent end of semester juries and lessons, two thoughts came to mind related to improving accuracy.

1. Get a BERP.

I have not had my BERP on my horn much in the past few years and I realize that some of my students have certainly never heard of or used this device. Described further in the manufacturer website, a BERP fits on your horn in such a way that you can buzz on the mouthpiece with a very similar position and resistance sensation as that of actually playing the horn.

Buzzing itself is addressed a number of places in Horn Matters, this short article being a favorite of mine (and see the “related articles” link below for even more). A big usage of buzzing I would encourage is to test passages you chipped right after the chip to see what was really going on inside the mouthpiece. You will hear scoops and burrs that were the obvious sources of the chipped notes. Buzz them correctly several times and accuracy will improve on the horn.

2. Adjust your concept of “good enough.”

The other point I would like to bring up today is the concept of in brass playing what is good enough?

One of my fears hearing people play that have problems in their playing is that they are so used to having those problems that they seem normal to them. They live with them thinking they are playing well enough. But actually they could, I think, correct the problems with some very focused effort and hit a higher level.

In short, if you think your tonguing or tone or range or accuracy is “good enough” it is probably not good enough. Be honest with yourself and put effort into solving those problems.

University of Horn Matters