Reflections

Playing a brass instrument requires the coordinated use of many different muscles. A mirror can help you learn to use your muscles in the most efficient way.

A full-length mirror is useful for improving your playing posture and revealing bad habits:

  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor; feel that you are pushing against the floor to expel the air.
  • Keep your elbows comfortably away from the body, your shoulders down and relaxed, and your chest up.
  • Let your entire torso expand as you take a breath.
  • The exhalation should follow the inhalation with no delay. If you breathe in and out naturally, you stay relaxed.
  • Keep your chin up to open the throat and eliminate a common source of tension.
  • Picture the sound as a visible beam of light emanating from the horn–the higher you play, the farther the beam projects. High notes are not further up, they are further out!

A close-up mirror can help you discover the most efficient way to form your embouchure:

  • Listen as you watch your embouchure, and make small adjustments with the lips and with the position of the mouthpiece on the lips.
  • Search for the embouchure setting that produces the most resonant sound on each note.
  • Strive to reduce exterior facial movements; adjust the vibrating points within the rim.
  • Don’t try to copy someone else’s embouchure or operate on a preconceived notion of what is “correct.” Whatever produces the best sound is correct for you.

About the Author:

Jazz trumpeter and author Chase Sanborn is based in Toronto, Canada. Chase is a veteran session player who has performed with many top artists including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Diana Krall. His latest CD, “Perking Up,” features Chase in duo and trio settings. A dedicated and celebrated educator, Chase Sanborn’s series of instructional books & DVD’s (Brass Tactics/Jazz Tactics/Tuning Tactics) have garnered worldwide praise for their insightful yet lighthearted and humorous look at the world of music. Chase is currently a member of the Jazz Faculty at the University of Toronto. For more information about Chase Sanborn, visit www.chasesanborn.com.

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