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Music Education Services Teacher


Summer may be ending but that just means Band is around the corner!¬† I hope you had a wonderful break.¬† Now that things are getting back to our regular schedule it is time to get back to playing our instruments, regularly!¬ If you didn’t play much over the break, it is time to get out your instrument and get back in the flow.¬† Open the case, say “Hello!¬† How have you been this summer?”¬† Then put it together and get going.

Here are some warmup reminders to help you get back in shape!

All wind players need to start their warmup with a few breathing exercises.¬† Do a few easy deep breaths to start.¬† Breathe all the way down to your “toes.”¬† That means as deeply as you can!¬† Let the air move¬ in and out without any tension.¬† It should feel easy and comfortable.¬† Next, follow this breathing pattern:

Breathe IN 4 counts   :: Breathe OUT 4 counts
Breathe IN 3 counts   ::  Breathe OUT 5 counts
Breathe IN 2 counts   ::  Breathe OUT 6 counts
Breathe IN 1 count      ::  Breathe OUT 7 counts
Breathe IN 1 count      ::  Breathe OUT 8 counts
Keep going further………!


Beginners should start their warmup by spending a few moments on the head joint before playing.  Can you get the low and the high note to sound clearly?  After you put the flute together, try to slur low Bb to high Bb (bottom and top notes of our Bb scale).  Do both notes have a clear singing sound?  Keep at it until both notes are perfect!  Next, go ahead and play the Bb scale, up and down several times, until it is smooth and every note sounds clearly.  No groowly notes allowed!

Intermediate & Advanced flutes will start their warmup on the flute.¬† Always begin with some long tones.¬† Start with 3rd line B-flat and slur down in 1/2 steps (Bb>A, A>Ab, Ab>G, etc) all the way to low C (or B if you have it!).¬† Next, do octave slurs to work on your embouchure flexibility.¬† If you know how, do harmonics on the low octave fingerings.¬† Try to get at least four harmonics to sound (the low note plus three notes above it).¬† Once your sound is big and fat and sparkling clear, play a few slurred scales and work on your clean finger technique.¬† Listen to each change of note that there aren’t any finger flams.¬†¬† When the fingers are good, do a few more scales tongued and make each note beginning perfect.¬† Each note should start cleanly.


Breaking in reeds

Chances are good that your old reeds are in need of being replaced.¬† If you buy your own, order a new box and start breaking in a set of 3 or 4 new reeds.¬† If you need reeds from me, don’t hesitate to call, or email, and I will drop them off at your school office.¬† Breaking in reeds makes them last longer and lets you figure out what each reed does best.¬† Some are better at playing forte, others are better for piano dynamics.¬† Some reeds are better for staccato while other are perfect for beautiful legato playing.

To break in a reed, play it gently for 5 minutes – three, or four, days in a row.¬† Don’t forget and play for an hour on a new reed.¬† Also, don’t play the hardest piece you know.¬† Play something light and easy.¬† Play some scales and arpeggios.¬† Spread the practicing around on the whole set of reeds.¬† Each day the tone and flexibility should improve.¬† The cycles of wetting and drying let the fibers relax and start to vibrate better.




Buzzing is  the best way to get the lips back into good habits for playing each day.  I always advise my brass players to buzz first every time they play.  This helps the lips to become more flexible, stronger, and more precise.  Start your warmup with some sirens.  Buzz smoothly up and down until the sound feels easy and free.  When the buzz is big and vibrant (juicy!) try and stretch the siren higher and lower.  Also, try buzzing softer and louder (but never forced).  Keep the air moving!  The rule is: if you can buzz a note on the mouthpiece, you can play it on your instrument.  Over time buzzing will help you to increase your range.

Brass playing also requires a well trained ear to play in tune.¬† It is easy to train this skill in combination with your warmup buzzing.¬† Sing (or hum) a note.¬† You can pick any note.¬ It doesn’t matter which one you choose to start.¬† Now, buzz the same note on the mouthpiece.¬† Pick a different note, and do the same.¬† Try to sing a series of notes in a row and then buzz the same pattern.¬† If you know a scale, use it for your buzzing.¬† BUT, very importantly, don’t leave out the singing.¬† Always start by making musical sounds yourself, then do the same on your mouthpiece.

When you feel that your lips are vibrating well, put the mouthpiece on the instrument and start with some long tones.¬† Don’t play too loudly at the start.¬† The key words to keep in mind are smooth, clear, and vibrant