Anytime I observed Wynton Marsalis backstage after a show giving tips to aspiring trumpeters, consistently his message was “practice long tones.” As we all know, long tones are dreadfully boring. What misery it was to hear him proclaim, time and time again, the gospel of the long tone. But, in truth, the rare times I am disciplined to regularly do long tones, the results are dramatic! This happens about once a year. So, with that being said, this is the beginning of a short series of posts to highlight the long tone and find ways to make them more enjoyable. Watch the Wynton Marsalis on Long Tones video:
VIDEO: Wynton Marsalis on Long Tones
Wynton’s Long Tone Concepts
- Seek the BIGGEST tone at the SOFTEST volume.
- Your sound on your instrument is your identity.
- Fill every corner of your instrument with air and feel the horn vibrate in your hands.
- Deep breath, relax, focus and concentrate.
If you’re not used to doing long tones or haven’t the discipline or patience to do them often, do NOT be hard on yourself, don’t overdue it and simply do a quick 2-3 minutes every other day. Then try and make it 5 minutes every other day. It is important to always remain as relaxed as possible and allow the air to do the work! Focus on the minimal amount of air needed to start the lips vibrating and seek the biggest, warmest, most beautiful tone you can achieve.