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 AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2019-05-07 22:28

Hi, all --

I've been taking clarinet lessons since January and have just joined the local New Horizons concert band. (My background is in choral music and recorder.) As my husband says, I'm pretty much "punching above my weight" in this band, but it's a really good challenge for me -- that is, if I don't end up annoying my neighbors!

I've been reading old bulletin board posts, and stumbled onto this thread about loud players playing loudly:


And I got to wondering if I might potentially be playing too loudly in my section. My problem is that I'm still so new to the instrument that I can't always hear myself among the loud brass players behind me, and I can't always "feel" the sound coming from my horn.

What sensations should I be looking out for as I play? What else would help me as I start out as an ensemble player? (I do plan on asking my seat mates to let me know if I stand out unpleasantly. So far, the band director hasn't given me the stink eye.)

For the record, I also joined the local New Horizons beginner band to help me get a solid foundation in group playing.

Post Edited (2019-05-07 22:29)

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: Roxann 
Date:   2019-05-07 23:38

I am in a New Horizons band and LOVE it! I hope it's a perfect fit for you. I wouldn't worry about playing too loudly. If you are, your director will let you know! You need to hear yourself play so you know if you're in tune or not, but you also need to be able to hear the clarinets on either side of you as well. Plus, if you're in front of the trumpets, I HIGHLY recommend wearing earplugs. That means you'll also need to keep an eye on a tuner! Best of luck:)

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-05-08 01:48

Basic advice on volume is when the music is soft you play so that you only hear your neighbors, when it's loud, you should hear yourself.

I tell students to be cognizant of the vibrations under their fingertips but that is relative more to what one gets when generating a correct sound more than ensemble play, but could help just to be aware of it.......if you're generating it.

There is an eternal struggle in bands regarding intonation. I find myself drifting toward the predominant sound.....usually the trumpets (usually a bit high). However, as much as it is possible you should remain faithful to the pitch of your section. Sitting directly in front of the trumpets makes that a challenge!

.................Paul Aviles

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-05-08 01:59

A really great way to learn good ensemble playing is to get a (at least) eight track digital recorder and play all the quartet parts by yourself on four of the tracks. I use the 5th track for a metronome 'Click Track' which I shut off for listening and a 6th track to make corrections. My 7th and 8th tracks mix into a stereo output.
You will learn about playing in tune (those other players aren't in tune!) and playing rhythmically (those other players don't count!) :=/

I record in my basement and have to turn off the overhead lights and furnace to get a quiet recording. I have made over 60 arrangements and have recorded them all. Attached are two for fun. Let me know if you need music and/or help on how to do a recording.

Sorry - Recordings don't post. Email me and I can send some.

Post Edited (2019-05-08 02:10)

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: RKing 
Date:   2019-05-08 02:54

It seems like we woodwind folks always get stuck in front of the trumpets and it's hard to hear yourself think, much less play sometimes. <LOL>

I will never forget my first night in a community band a few years ago. I was primed and ready with my sax, the music director lowered his baton - and the band took off at 100 miles an hour! I think I played two notes and was left in the dust. A few measures later, I was able to find my place and got a few more notes in before the band surged away faster than my brain could move.

Later, during a section that was Moderato, my brain connected with my fingers, and I was tooling along just fine. Then the section leader gave me the thumbs up as encouragement and this distracted me so much I lost my focus again! Arrgh!

Playing in a group can be a very humbling experience. You will eventually be able to hear yourself okay and you will be able to isolate your part in your brain and follow right along - even with the trumpets blaring behind you. It just takes time and experience.

Please don't give up! Everything will get better the more you do it.

Slightly deaf, but still trying,


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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2019-05-08 03:00

I think the most important advice in this thread is wear earplugs! Your instrument will then sound strange but you'll save your hearing.

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-05-08 03:53

I am wearing hearing aids today because of sitting in front of trumpets for 27 years.

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2019-05-08 04:25

A cautionary tale. I already have mild hearing loss, and I certainly don't want to go over the edge.

Ken Lagace wrote:

> I am wearing hearing aids today because of sitting in front of
> trumpets for 27 years.

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: Late_returner 
Date:   2019-05-08 15:19

My grandson has a tee shirt which reads ... I'm Not Too Loud, Your Too Old.

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 Re: AM I TOO LOUD?!?!?!
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2019-05-08 15:37

Late_returner wrote:

> My grandson has a tee shirt which reads ... I'm Not Too Loud,
> Your Too Old.

Snort! If I wore that T-shirt to New Horizons bands I'd really alienate everyone! (At 54, I think I'm by far the youngest there. Thankfully, my prematurely grey hair helps me blend in.)

Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement and ideas -- much appreciated!

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