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 Long Tones 2009
Author: Liam Murphy 
Date:   2009-04-10 04:43

BBoard,


>>>Yes, I have read older posts on this subject. These are my thoughts/questions.<<<


I've often heard it recommended that I practice "long tones"

I've never woken up once with the urge to tire myself out droning away on any arrangement of 12 notes.

I must be missing something.

How can this activity be seen as valuable use of practice time?

What do long tones achieve? A better awareness of intonation and tone? I see how long tones could help, just they appear to be a supremely inefficient and aggravating means of achieving such goals.

Couldn’t the same ends be achieved though the practice of scales, arpeggios or *gasp* actually playing music? These alternative activities consolidate a player’s understanding of music/theory, thus must be more productive. Right?

Incidentally, I have no problem practicing scales slowly, just not for 4+ seconds per note.

Long tones appear to me to be a silly pedagogical fad that has infested far too many teachers' teaching.

Please let me know if and how I'm wrong, or to what extent I'm right.

As a side note, many players I've seen/met who preach the way of the long tone have awful sounds (in my opinion)

- Liam.



Post Edited (2009-04-10 04:50)

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: GBK 
Date:   2009-04-10 04:49

Long tones by themselves are an inefficient use of your practice time.

I do not use long tones in my warm up and do not advise my students to use them either. I feel that they accomplish very little and take unnecessary time away from scales and arpeggios, which are the building blocks of technique.

A better approach would be to play your scales very slowly, listening for smooth connections between the notes, and checking that the down and/or up movement of each finger is absolutely precise and seamless.

I also do not think that long tones help to improve your tone quality. Playing notes slowly, in context, whether scalewise or arpeggiated, and matching their sonority and color will do much more to develop your overall tonal concept.

Music making is the connections of notes at different speeds, not just one sustained note...GBK

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2009-04-10 08:20

Long tones are not everything, but they are not worthless either. Try this-
Play one long note, any note. Is it totally even from start to finish? Even if there is a change in tone, is it a smooth change or is the sound unstable or 'shaky'? How do your lips feel after 15 seconds on one note? I assume they feel a bit more tired than they do when you run up and down a scale for 15 seconds. Long tones are O N E (and only 1) of many good things to practice.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Liam Murphy 
Date:   2009-04-10 10:16

Thanks for the replies so far,

I have a few comments.

Skygardener said:

>>>Long tones are not everything, but they are not worthless either<<<

I acknowledged the relatively minimal benefits of including long tones on one's regular practice regimen in my first post. For a half decent player, however, I think the practice of long tones is, at least superficially, pretty close to worthless.

I just had a family discussion for which the practice of long tones was the catalyst. Among other benefits suggested by members of my family were the meditative qualities of practicing long tones. I don't think that practice should ever be meditative. Rather, I think of practice as a session of intense concentration. Thus, I am still at a loss as to why one could so confidently contend that long tones have ANY place in a person's regular practice regimen.

Skygardener asked:

>>>is it [your sustained note] totally even from start to finish? Even if there is a change in tone, is it a smooth change or is the sound unstable or 'shaky'? How do your lips feel after 15 seconds on one note? I assume they feel a bit more tired than they do when you run up and down a scale for 15 seconds<<<

My answers were: Yes, No, Fine, and Nope. Should I still practice long tones?

Skygardener said:

>>>Long tones are O N E (and only 1) of many good things to practice. <<<

I disagree. Long tones serve only indicate whether or not a player can achieve the following:

- Play ONE NOTE in tune

- Play ONE NOTE with consistent tone

- Play ONE NOTE for ages without getting tired

This is all fine. Clearly it has some benefit. Why would almost all beginner wind instrument books (e.g. Essential Elements: Clarinet) include sections on long tones if its practice had no purpose? My answer: because the exercise is suited to beginners. The exercise is warranted because a beginner may not be capable of achieving multiple musical goals. Anyone more than a beginner, however, should be striving to create music, which is, as GBK points out:

>>>the connections of notes at different speeds, not just one sustained note<<<

GBK has isolated one important element of music which is both worth improving and absent from the practice of long tones: rhythm. Clearly, though, there are more. The (possibly slow) practice of scales or music will indicate whether or not a player can:

- Play notes in tune

- Play notes with consistent tone

- Play notes without fatigue adversely affecting performance

- Play notes with consistent rhythm

- Play notes with appropriately varying, or consistent dynamics

- Play notes with appropriate phrasing

- Play notes with appropriate articulation.

Obviously, there are more to list, however my point is illustrated.

As with most matters with regard to clarinet playing, I am willing to concede that what works for me may not work for others. So don't think that I would be arrogant enough to command that everyone should cease to practice long tones.

- Liam

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: oliver sudden 
Date:   2009-04-10 10:48

> For a half decent player, however, I think the practice of long
> tones is, at least superficially, pretty close to worthless.

Since we're all up with the YMMV principle I'll just say that for me long notes are one of the few things that are _absolutely essential_. (That and scales in thirds...) Especially if you're a half decent player who would like to ditch the 'half' bit. Of course there are people who've been blessed with birth with the innate ability to control every aspect of tone production but I'm not one of these lucky individuals...

I don't know of anything that better focusses on the matter of keeping the air supply in condition and without that we may as well pack it in - doesn't matter what you can do with the steering wheel if the engine's not working. I notice you don't mention control of dynamics - maybe we're not talking about exactly the same thing then, since when I think of 'long note practice' I'm thinking of playing every semitone (or at least every diatonic note) within at least the basic three octaves, from nothing to fff and back. It should indeed be a concentrated process - you should be listening like mad, not only to the dynamic and intonation but to the whole harmonic profile of the sound.

>>>is it [your sustained note] totally even from start to finish? Even if there is a change in tone, is it a smooth change or is the sound unstable or 'shaky'? How do your lips feel after 15 seconds on one note? I assume they feel a bit more tired than they do when you run up and down a scale for 15 seconds<<<

> My answers were: Yes, No, Fine, and Nope. Should I still
> practice long tones?

There are of course two possibilities here. Either you do indeed have perfect control of the sound you're producing or there's something that isn't under complete control that's escaping your ear. I'm sure it's the former of course in your case but for those of us who are less certain I think long notes are the best way to work out which of the two it might be.

I think it's often worth remembering that 'technique' for a singer (at least for the ones I've hung around) basically means what we call production. How quickly you can get around the instrument is 'agility'. It's just a difference of emphasis but it's one I've always found worth thinking about.



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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Dan Oberlin 2017
Date:   2009-04-10 11:04

I used to do long tones as in the Robert Spring warmup, but with the metronome set at 40. Several years ago, after reading something David Hattner posted about long tones, I replaced them with an interval exercise: choose a major key, set the metronome at 76, and play through the Baermann 6ths in that key twice, with the 16th getting the beat. It seems to me a more productive way to spend that part of my warmup.

D.O.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2009-04-10 11:59

Liam- if you refer to 'long tone excercises' as only practicing one note with no other aspect and totally unconnected to anything else, then I am more inclined to agree with you. Maybe you would refer my concept of 'long tones' as 'very slow'.
Ex- Low E held and smoothly slurred to middle B and a slow taper to nothing. For me, it is a kind of 'long tone excercise'.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: oliver sudden 
Date:   2009-04-10 12:06

Another thing that just occurred to me -

> I don't think that practice should ever be meditative.
> Rather, I think of practice as a session of intense concentration.

If there's a contradiction for you then I think we have a different idea of what meditation is about!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

...not that meditation is only concentration of course, and not that it can't be relaxing. But it's more about tuning in than it's about tuning out!

[Edit: I do in fact feel that the connection between meditation and playing a wind instrument is a very strong one. There are cultures where a wind instrument is used as part of meditation, as a means of focussing thought and energy - I know that a (brief and superficial) exposure to shakuhachi playing many years ago was a very decisive point for my playing. That's a form of woodwind playing where the concentration is particularly focussed on the inner life of the sound and all its variations. That's a big reason why long-note practice is so important. On the other hand there are forms of purely bodily exercise where the breath is an essential part of the process of concentrating on the body - I'm thinking of Ashtanga Yoga (another brief and superficial exposure!), there are certainly others. Liam - that's the sort of issue I'm thinking of here, I'm sorry if that kind of discussion wasn't what you had in mind.]



Post Edited (2009-04-10 14:27)

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Liam Murphy 
Date:   2009-04-10 12:49

BBoard,

I really cannot be bothered qualifying each and every word I use in my posts. Unfortunately, this seems to be the only way to compose an acceptable post on this BBoard.

Equally as unfortunate, is the all-too-often employed method of replying to a person's post: isolate a word or phrase, place it out of context, and then blindly contradict the entire post on that basis.

If you want to disagree with something, disagree with this:

I believe long tones to be a comparatively ineffective means of improving one's tone or achieving related goals.

I should have left it at that.

I'm tired of semantics, sarcasm and sophistry.

- Liam

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Bassie 
Date:   2009-04-10 13:06

The only thing I have seen help is to practice a long dynamic swell from pp-ff-pp, the aim of the exercise being control of tone, pitch and embouchure.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2009-04-10 13:07

Indeed words are very unclear. Even within the same language variation and miscommunication exists; just as it seems to here. However, attempting to ignore that inescapable part of all language will not help anyone fully understand what it is you are trying to communicate.
That is why I attempted to define my concept of the word as I have learned it.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2009-04-10 15:34


You don't have to practice "long tones"...you don't have to develope a good clarinet tone either.

Generations of clarinetists and clarinet teachers have used long tones to develope and sustain a good clarinet tone...think maybe they know somethin'?

Clarinet Redux

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2009-04-10 15:51

Old Geezer wrote:

> Generations of clarinetists and clarinet teachers have used
> long tones to develope and sustain a good clarinet tone...think
> maybe they know somethin'?
>

Belief in something doesn't make it true. It might be true.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: larryb 
Date:   2009-04-10 16:05

"I'm tired of semantics, sarcasm and sophistry."

I can see from your first post how you might have exhausted yourself. Long tone practice might help you build the stamina to endure such things.



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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: GBK 
Date:   2009-04-10 16:18

As Stanley Hasty once said: "...Anyone can sound good on one note. Once someone plays an INTERVAL, however, you can immediately tell whether the player is a beginner or someone very good..."

Take the 15 minutes you use daily for long tones, add up all those minutes, and in a month it is more than 6 hours which would have been better spent on scales and arpeggios.

...GBK

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Gregory Smith 2017
Date:   2009-04-10 16:29

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=54057&t=53791

Read David Hattner's posts about the relative value of long tones.


Gregory Smith

http://www.gregory-smith.com

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2009-04-10 17:21

For some beginners, I recommend long tones. Before you all get undies in a bunch, I have a method behind my madness...

They only need to play 2-3 long tones _total_ in each practice session. This is ONLY for students who are having other tonal issues AND cannot manage always to co-ordinate their fingers. I ONLY have them do these long tones for a few months....usually until their A5-D6 have gotten stable.

I always prefer that students use scales (a la Baermann 3 once they're able) to improve tone, but for the beginners who are still struggling with just PLAYING the "high" notes, a FEW long tones go a long way!

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Bartmann 
Date:   2009-04-10 19:12

Liam,

I agree with you about long tones, especially for clarinet. When I was learning the clarinet, I could only play for 30 minutes. But if I played long tones for 15 minutes, that was the end of my practice. For intonation practice, I'll practice scales, arpeggios, and other intervals very slowly. But for me I need the tones to be connected to other tones to be interesting.

In contrast, when I was learning flute, I actually found long tones interesting because of vibrato. Whereas the clarinet's most flexible characteristic is its vast dynamic range, the flute also has wonderfully flexible vibrato. You can vary its speed, amplitude, when you start and finish it, and how you start and finish it.

So on an ascending scale you can choose to slowly crescendo, and increase the speed of your vibrato overall until reaching the tonic. You can apply vibrato to each note separately, you can have a subtle vibrato, you can stretch the period of non vibrato on the tonic to create drama and then apply vibrato, or you can apply vibrato, slow down to a steady tone, and then flatten the note for a native american sound. With the flute I can play a scale over and over discovering ways to resolve the tonic. And varying vibrato with the leading tone is often more fun. Essentially every step of the scale is ripe for vibrato exploration.

Certainly similar tonal exploration can happen with the clarinet, but not with the same broad tonal palette. It's kind of like with the clarinet you have a box of 8 Crayola crayons, with the flute you have a box of 48. And perhaps with a violin you get the box with the whopping 64 crayons.

Enjoy.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Wes 
Date:   2009-04-10 19:47

What an interesting discussion!

When I started with Earl Handlon as my teacher, the first thing he had me do was long tones every lesson. These were starting on a low note, such as E, for 8 counts then pressing the register key for 8 counts playing the 12th. Earl Handlon was Marcellus' teacher for a few years.

Also, when I started studying with Mitchell Lurie, one of the first things he showed me was the practice of long tones counting slow from 1 to 9 to 1 going from pp to ff to pp. This was a basic of Marcel Tabuteau's method for teaching the oboe and can be heard today in the CD of him teaching the oboe after he retired. Lurie spent an extra year at Curtis so that he could learn from Tabuteau.

The Robert Spring long tones taken to the highest C build the embouchure for playing the top octave notes.

One can also comment on the De La Sonorite flute book by Moyse which mostly consists of long tones. Together with the Taffanel and Gaubert flute method book, it forms the basis for modern flute playing. Galway will attest to the value of long tones. Page 46 in T and G is all long tones for practice.

Good Wishes and Good Reeds to all!

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2009-04-10 20:43

Start the practice with long tones and three reeds. 1. Play a low note....listen.....adjust reed on the mouthpiece to get better response.....down, up, or side to side. try again. 2. long tone focusing on posture 3. Play some throat tones....make sure they are clear enough...if not ..adjust reed to clear up airyness or slow response.....use Ridenour ATG... 4. play some more long tones....cresc then dim... using tuner to check pitch during this.. 5 play some more long tones...focus on breathing and support.. 6. more long tones...air attack, 7. high note attack mp, p, pp, 8.. more tones...note connections....smooth finger action. 9. play two more reeds during warmup. 10 play a note as long as you can...try to develop.big inhale and techniques to last longer. use a watch to time it.

Long tones for brass instruments are for building embouchure endurance and strength. It isn't quite the same for clarinet. Carmine Caruso (a saxophone player who became a brass guru in NY) utilized exercises that were isometric in nature....keeping the embouchure set through long tones and between breaths to build strength. This might be helpful if you are coming back to clarinet playing after years off and lack sufficient embouchure muscles.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: oliver sudden 
Date:   2009-04-10 20:55

Bartmann:

"Certainly similar tonal exploration can happen with the clarinet, but not with the same broad tonal palette. It's kind of like with the clarinet you have a box of 8 Crayola crayons, with the flute you have a box of 48. And perhaps with a violin you get the box with the whopping 64 crayons."

Now if I may say so, I'm not sure there are _that_ many folks around here who would agree with you on the tonal palette front... ;-)

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2009-04-10 22:32

I've never seen the advantage of playing long tones either all by themselves. I give my students other exercises like 12ths, octaves, slow scares and another slow interval study I use to practice, beginning pp, playing slowly, listening to the "attach" to enter without an accent, making a good crescendo and diminuendo, listening to intonation, a good connection between registers and intervals, practicing good voicing, eliminating any grunt sound or air escaping. Everything but more, that they would get from practicing a long tone. Of course I don't discourage them from playing long tones if they wish, I just think there's more value in doing the other things I ask them to practice. ESP http://eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: EEBaum 
Date:   2009-04-10 22:35

More possibilities for tonal exploration on flute than clarinet? I most certainly beg to differ! I'd say the flute is the box of 8 and the clarinet the 48. A large portion of clarinets seem to restrict themselves to one or two of them, though.

-Alex
www.mostlydifferent.com

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: brycon 
Date:   2009-04-10 22:53

Ed, I love it when my teachers give me the "slow scares" to practice- ha.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Liam Murphy 
Date:   2009-04-10 23:06

BBoard,

>>>>attempting to ignore that inescapable part of all language will not help anyone fully understand what it is you are trying to communicate. <<<<

My flight was not the result of debate-induced cowardice, rather it was late and I was tired. That is, I was not in to mood to defend myself with regard to my word choice. The matter appears to have been cleared up, and I apologize for sounding rude.

I should mention that my uncalled-for remark about "semantics, sarcasm and sophistry" was not really in response to any replies to this thread.

I don't believe that I ignored communication issues; I chose to condense my proposition, which, as I conceded, I probably should have done in the first place.



>>>>You don't have to practice "long tones"...you don't have to develope [sic] a good clarinet tone either. <<<<

You're right, I don't. I fail to see the correlation you allude to though.



>>>>Generations of clarinetists and clarinet teachers have used long tones to develope [sic] and sustain a good clarinet tone...think maybe they know somethin'?<<<<

This path of deduction has always confused me. I think Mark saved me the trouble of articulating my rebuttal anyway : )



>>>>I can see from your first post how you might have exhausted yourself. Long tone practice might help you build the stamina to endure such things. <<<<

I said in my second post: "I would [not] be arrogant enough to command that everyone should cease to practice long tones"

It appears this attribute has no inverse equivalent for some members of "long tone" camp.



>>>>For some beginners, I recommend long tones. Before you all get undies in a bunch, I have a method behind my madness...<<<<

I said in my second post:

>>>>Clearly [long tones have] some benefit. Why would almost all beginner wind instrument books (e.g. Essential Elements: Clarinet) include sections on long tones if its practice had no purpose? My answer: because the exercise is suited to beginners. <<<<

It looks like we are in agreement

- Liam



Post Edited (2009-04-10 23:19)

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: pelo_ensortijado 
Date:   2009-04-10 23:27

one part of the long tone-idea is to build pure muscles.
its not the sort of long-tone-excercise you guys are discussing, but still...

to play really long notes for a long time,really loud(still some kind of focus, ofcourse.) is like an hour in the gym(but more fun, i think).
and i do this to manage those really long and painful solos/chamberwork/concerts or whatever, without getting so tired in the end that my joy and musicality is feeling forced, and im getting all tired and stiff..
i do this a few times a week, when i dont feel like doing anymore practice(one of thoooose days...). i do this FFF-long-tone-long-time-thing(on a bad reed) until i cant play anymore, and then i go home happy and exhausted to take a well needen shower...(its also a great way of letting out loads of frustrations and anger.)
most other days in the week i work out at home or run/bike around for a while.
to manage to make music/using my brain, the body needs to be working like a clockwork.(mine is not, but im getting there, slow but steady)

not really on the topic, just what came down through my head this late hour(1.30am... i should be asleep...)

good night everybody
//niclas

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Old Geezer 
Date:   2009-04-11 00:21

Liam [sic] we don't criticise or call attention to misspelling on this BB.

Try to be nice and practice your long tones daily without fail...Dr. Robert Spring does!

Other advocates of long tone practice; Klose, H. Lazurus, Cahuzac, Bellison, Kell, Marcellus and many more, but what did they know?
Maybe it was just a belief system as Mark C. noted.

Clarinet Redux

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2009-04-11 01:21

Hi,

I use long tones for two specific things:

1. On flute for register work (slow slurred octaves)
2. On clarinet to build my breath support.

As I have aged (gracefully I hope) my stamina and breath control needs strengthening. Long tones for me are not really just about tone it would seem. If I get too technical, I seem to not benefit as much.

HRL

PS I'll bet Don Berger uses long tones in about the same way. While my technique is still very good, long slurred passages are really hell.



Post Edited (2009-04-11 19:38)

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: vin 
Date:   2009-04-11 13:04

Old Geezer-
You haven't read the links. As told by several of his students, Robert Marcellus DID NOT advocate the playing of long tones. He advocated slow Baermann scales, those Handlon 12ths and other intervals. I have been told by a Bellison student that he didn't use one note long tones either. Get your facts straight. No one is advocating not practicing really slowly.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Liam Murphy 
Date:   2009-04-11 23:38

BBoard,

It appears no one will back down on this matter.

I am, however, happy to conduct an experiment.

I'll practice long tones* five minutes a day for one month, and will report any improvement in any aspect of my clarinet playing.

I hope the next response to this thread will be mine on Tuesday, May 12th, 2009.

Good day,

- Liam

*as Robert Spring practices them.



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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2009-04-12 20:22

What is there to back down on?
As GBK indicated there is a matter of belief. If you don't believe that long tones will do any thing to help you then they almost certainly won't.
A lot of others believe that they will help, and for them they almost certainly will.



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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2009-04-13 02:45

Cat Anderson of the Duke Ellington Orchestra wrote a trumpet method. The first exercise is holding a long tone for 20 minutes(with breaths). You then rest for 15 minutes. Certainly many trumpet players have advocated ways to increase embouchure strength for playing high notes. I'm not sure how applicable this is to woodwind instruments.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: hinotehud 2017
Date:   2009-04-14 02:37

I attended a master class by a terrific clarinetist and teacher, Arthur Campbell of Grand Valley State University in Michigan. This made sense to me. He advocates a maximum 8 minute warm up using long tones or something so easy, you are not thinking about the notes you are playing. You warm up with 4-two minute exercises. You pick a fundamental component of playing, such as: oral cavity, air support, embouchure, tonguing, etc. You spend only a minute or two (no more) and concentrate on that one fundamental to develop a memory of the correct process or technique. After a minute or two, choose another fundamental. The idea is you will (over time) automatically use that aspect of your playing correctly, when you are concentrating on playing music.


Keith

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: mrn 
Date:   2009-04-14 03:07

Niclas wrote:

<<one part of the long tone-idea is to build pure muscles.>>

That's what I thought the whole idea behind them was. My teacher used to have me play long tones where she'd have me do all the breathing through my nose so that I would keep my embouchure set. The objective was to build up embouchure strength.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: pelo_ensortijado 
Date:   2009-04-14 12:21

i would say there is nothing as good as long tones and really slow scales when warming up.
it keeps you focused on the little details that you later during the day, when the ears get "tired", cant detect and correct.

i use about 45 min to 1 hour every day(besides the "long-tones" i wrote about earlier) for long tones and slooow scales in variying outfits to perfect my sound and fundamentals.
its that time of the day i really learn something important. the rest of the day i have to learn parts and solos and dont really have energy to think about both fundamentals and music...

stuff that i focus on when doing long tones and scales is:
legato
emboshure(sp?)
airsupport
tounge
voicing
projection
dynamics
intonation

sure there are other ways of practice this, but for me its the easiest way and gives me the most peace of mind and focus on the problems in hand.
i wouldnt make it without it. :)

//niclas

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Brenda Siewert 
Date:   2009-04-14 14:36

My clarinet prof told me he uses "long tone hell" on students that tend to excell on fast passages to "calm them down." He did confide that this is mainly a male problem as the young guys just out of high school tended to want to show off their abilities. Nothing sexist here, just reporting a weird practice.

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2009-07-07 22:26

I am just wondering the results of Liam's long tone practice.
Have you found any benefits?
After not practicing long tones much ever before (I guess from your posts), how was it?

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 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Liam Murphy 
Date:   2009-07-08 00:14

Skygardener,

>>>how was it [long tone practice]?<<<

In short: it was, for me, an inferior means of improving my clarinet playing.

If I were to say any aspect was improved, it would be the stability of certain altissimo notes; namely C#7 and D7 and Eb7. But this would have probably been because I've never really considered practising these notes before.

>>>After not practicing long tones much ever before<<<

I would contend that I've actually been practicing long tones all my life. Saint Saens mvt III, Chagrin Improvisation, Mozart Adagio etc.

What is more lively music but a series of shorter long tones?

I'm not even sure if I agree with myself on that last point, I'll try to qualify it all the same though. The skills which are honed through long tone practice:

>>>legato, emboshure(sp?)airsupport, tounge, voicing, projection, dynamics, intonation<<<

I felt that I was consolidating those skills just as efficiently whilst slowly and carefully practising passages such as the first few notes of Mozart's Rondo. Same deal with the practice of slower music and scales/arpeggios.

I prefer this to long tones for the simple reason that more is being achieved. I am, in the case of practicing music, gaining a greater understanding of the repertoire which will, by simple extension, make me a better musician and performer. If carefully practicing scales/arpeggios, my raw finger technique/sight reading/harmonic awareness will be improved alongside that improved through long tone practice.

>>>He [clarinet teacher] advocates a maximum 8 minute warm up using long tones or something so easy, you are not thinking about the notes you are playing. You warm up with 4-two minute exercises. You pick a fundamental component of playing, such as: oral cavity, air support, embouchure, tonguing, etc.<<<

How on earth would it ever be desirable for a student to not be thinking about the notes? Arn't notes the aural manifestation of the extent to which you've successfully executed those aforementioned "fundametal component of playing"?

>>>You spend only a minute or two (no more) and concentrate on that one fundamental to develop a memory of the correct process or technique.<<<

The satisfactory performance of “one fundamental” cannot be seen as a success. Rather, all must occur together. The only scenario I can think of where this might be useful is, once again, in students’ first lessons. I can’t see how any other player could not concentrate on, for example, embouchure + tonguing + oral cavity position. After all, what would one of these sound like without the rest backing it up? Do they not all work together anyway? Then why not practice them together?

Is my incredulity in this regard musical hubris? I don't think so.

>>>My clarinet prof told me he uses "long tone hell" on students that tend to excell on fast passages to "calm them down." He did confide that this is mainly a male problem as the young guys just out of high school<<<

Being in high school myself, I’ve certainly encountered such guys. I’m not one, and I’d only need calming down if a long-tone-automaton insisted that I become the subject of her musical-schadenfreude rather than her student.

I recently turned 18 and I can choose what to practice and what not to. I chose to discontinue my practice of long tones after an honest experiment with them.

- Liam



Reply To Message
 
 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2009-07-08 02:19

Liam said:

"I recently turned 18 and I can choose what to practice and what not to. I chose to discontinue my practice of long tones after an honest experiment with them."

Well I for one don't belive you have given them an "honest experiment".

When have you ever got up at 6am and then played the entire chromatic scale "with each note sounding like the one preceeding it" for four seconds each, a la Robert Spring.

All the best,

Chris.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: Franklin Liao 
Date:   2009-07-08 04:40

Shouldn't the subject matter of what to practice a highly personal one in the first place? By the time when one reaches maturity, (s)he should have the mental faculty to reason about some of the matters that needs to be addressed, which is the whole point of practicing in the first place.

It is not to say that people realize all the things that should be addressed, but then again, no issue is truly a problem if it is only the beholder that is alarmed, since the originator of the 'perceived issue' is the one that has actual stakes involved.

Therefore, there exists no reason to be defensive, apologetic or even compromising when one is seeking an opinion about a subject matter. An opinion is an opinion, and one should be expected to develop a conclusion of one's own and take full responsibility for such decision.

After all, maturity is about reasoning and problem solving on one's own and not leaving it to the convenience of others, as well as not about seeking the approval of others. In some sense, I personally feel that Liam has already formed his own conclusion, and that this discussion serves no purpose for the intended beneficiary.



Post Edited (2009-07-08 04:43)

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: clariniano 
Date:   2009-07-08 13:52

I'm kind of conflicted on the practice of long tones, I know of at least a couple of pieces that have a sustained long tone (the end of the Finzi Carol from Five Bagatelles, and the end of the Lullaby movementof Srul Irving Glick's Suite Hebraique.

On the other hand, students build up their brath control by playing pieces of various phrase lengths, among my favourites for that is the Larghetto from Mozart's clarinet quintet.

And some students create tension when they practice long tones.

Even for developing tone quality, I find students don't really listen to their tone qualty, and tere are better ways to develop a fine sound concept.

So, that's one of my musical confessions, I rarely practice long tones, and rarely have students practice them.

Meri

Please check out my website at: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com and my blog at: http://clariniano.wordpress.com

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Long Tones 2009
Author: john4256 
Date:   2013-10-25 08:50

I couldn't agree more Liam. I have been playing for 60 years and never practised long tones or even been recommended to do so by my teachers. I improved my tone by playing music and listening to myself and the opinions of others.
Thank you for sharing this.

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