Think Like a Didgeridoo Player: Long Tones

Didgeridoo is an ancient instrument that has only one fundamental note (true, there are overtone toots and vocals that expand that range, but basically, there’s just one note). This is the ultimate long-tone instrument. Here’s Dupravko Lapaine playing didj like a boss. Check it, then learn about long tones on trumpet below the vid.

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Long tones (playing one note and holding it for a loooooong time) are incredibly helpful for anyone of any skill level, but are especially helpful for beginners. They’re easy, and once you get the sound you don’t have to worry about fingering, rhythm, or note-reading. Setting aside these other distractions allows you to really focus on the sound you’re making, on how you’re using your air, and on how the trumpet feels.

More advanced players might consider exercises sometimes called “crash tones.” You play and get louder and louder and louder until you’re as loud as you can possibly play (this is not popular with the neighbors). At some point, before you reach your loudest volume, the tone will get spread and ugly. This is NOT the kind of tone you want, but with practice, you can push that spot so that your tone will be good at an even louder volume.

Brass players (and most players, really) have a tough time playing softly, too. So I’d recommend spending most of your long tone time on playing softly and getting a feel for how to use your air (fast air, but not much of it) in order to play softly but still maintain vibrancy and intonation of the sound.

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