You are on page 1of 4

05/06/2016

BuildingListeningSkillsInTheBand,ArticulationPart1

Spring2001Volume3

BuildingListeningSkillsintheBand
ArticulationPart1
byRichardWillaims&JeffKing
WhyThisIsImportant
Characteristictone,articulation,intonation,
precision,andbalancearefundamentalqualitiesthat
areevidentinallgreatmusicalperformances.Asband
directors,ourgoalistodevelopateachingmethodthat
advancesourstudents'understanding,awareness,and
performanceskillsinregardstothesefivefundamental
goals.
Articulationishowmusiciansspeakthroughtheir
horns.Theabilityofanensembletomatcharticulation
allowstheperformerstocommunicateeachmusical
thoughtwithclarity.Inworkingonarticulationwith
students,banddirectorsshouldhaveseveralgoalsin
mind:
1.Buildacommonconceptandvocabulary.
2.Enablestudentstoultimatelytakeresponsibilityfor
articulation.
3.Developdailydrillstoadvancearticulationskills.
4.Applyconceptstoeveryaspectoftherehearsal
andbandliterature.
CommonConceptandVocabulary
Eventhoughmanypeoplearevisuallearners,
musicalconceptsmustbedemonstratedorverbalizedto
beunderstood.Whatdoesaresonant,beautifully
articulated,fullvaluenotereallylooklike?Granted,we
cantseeit,butweknowagoodonewhenwehearit.A
descriptivevocabularythatisconsistent,simple,andto
thepoint,combinedwiththefollowingblockshape
graphicmayhelpyourstudentsrelatetoattacksustain
releaseprinciples.

Anattackisthebeginningofthenoteitisthepoint
atwhichairisreleasedintothehorn,andthebeginning
ofvibration.Thegoalistoproducearesonant,vibrant,
instantsound.Inordertoachieveinstantsound,students
musthaveabasicunderstandingofsoundandvibration.
http://www.kjos.com/band/band_news/band_news_artic1.html

1/4

05/06/2016

BuildingListeningSkillsInTheBand,ArticulationPart1

Brassinstrumentscreatetonethroughlipvibration
doublereeds,clarinets,andsaxophonesthrough
vibrationsofthereed(s)andflutescreatevibrationby
splittingtheairstreamontheouteredgeoftheblowhole.
Studentsmustconstantlyberemindedthattheirgoalis
tomaximizethevibrationprocessontheirinstrument.
Theymustalsounderstandthattheenemyofvibrationis
tension.Toeliminateexcessivetensioninthesound,
directorsmustinsistonproperplayingposition.This
positionwillpromotearelaxed,yetfullintakeofair,and
anunobstructedreleaseoftheairintotheinstrument.
Properinhalationandexhalationisessentialin
creatinginstantsound.Onecanalmostpredictthe
qualityofthetonebasedonthequalityofthebreath.A
deep,relaxedsoundingbreathwillbemorelikelyto
producearesonantsound.Additionally,inordertoline
uptheattack,theensembleshouldstrivetobreathe
together.Agreatwaytoreinforcethisconceptistostart
anoteorexercisebyhavingtheensemblewatchyour
breathandattack.Cantheybreathewithyouandstart
togetherwithoutbeingcuedbythedirectorshandsor
baton?
Whenstartinganote,everystudentmustalsobe
awareofthearticulationsyllabletobeused.Directors
havemanychoicesinthisregard:TAH,TU,TEE,DU,
DEE,DAH,tolistjustafew.Nomatterwhatsyllableis
chosen,itmustbeconsistentwithineachsection.Itsfine
tohavethetrumpetsuseonesyllableandclarinets
anotheritsnotagoodideatohavedifferentarticulation
syllablesbeingusedwithinthetrumpetorclarinet
section.Studentsalsoneedtounderstandthecorrect
placementofthetongueandpointofcontactwithinthe
mouthoronthereed.Keepinmindthatphysical
characteristicsvaryfromstudenttostudentandbe
preparedtoadjustthesyllableasnecessary.Itmayalso
benecessarytochangethearticulationsyllableto
executedifferentstylessuchaslegatoormarcato,and
adjustmentsmayneedtobemadeforarticulated
passagesinextremeranges.
Studentsshouldbeawareofthefollowingattack
concepts:
1.Setarelaxedplayingandhandpositionwiththe
firstnotealreadyfingeredbeforethedirector
beginsthecountofforgivesthedownbeat.
2.Visualizethesoundofthebreathaswellasthe
soundofthenotetobeplayedbeforetheattack.
3.Breathetogetherwithalloftheothermembersof
theensemblekeepingthebodystillandrelaxed
(noheadorshouldermovement).
4.Airintoairoutwithnoholdinbetween.
5.Createinstantvibrationasthetonguereleasesair
intotheinstrumentwiththeproperarticulation
syllable.
http://www.kjos.com/band/band_news/band_news_artic1.html

2/4

05/06/2016

BuildingListeningSkillsInTheBand,ArticulationPart1

Thesustainofanoteisallofthesoundthathappens
afterthefirstinstantofattack.Onceagain,vibrationis
thekey.Relatingthisconcepttotheblockshape
encouragesstudentstokeepthesoundandpitch
uniform.Thisisaccomplishedbyusingasmooth,steady,
anddirectedairstream.Studentswillneedtokeepthe
faceandinstrumentstillwhilemaintainingaconsistent
tonguepositionandvowelsoundinthethroat.To
achieveastabletoneandpitchduringsustainednotes,
focusontheseconcepts:
1.Thinkofthesound(air)goingpasttheembouchure
toomanytimes,airexplodesontheattackand
thenfailstocarrythrough.
2.Studentsmustknowandmaintainaconsistent
vowelsound(controlledbythebackofthetongue)
andmaintainaconsistenttongueposition(this
affectstheairspeed)throughoutthenoteor
exercise.
3.Tomaintainaresonantsound,thelips,orreeds,
mustbefreetovibrate.
4.Keeptheembouchureset,thebodytensionfree,
andtheinstrumentstill.
5.Visualizeatargetfortheairstreamandkeepit
movingforward.
6.Usethesamevocabularytodescribethedesired
tone:resonant,vibrant,centered.Alsodescribe
whattoavoid:tight,fuzzy/airy,dull.
Aclear,coordinatedreleaseisoftenthemost
overlookedpartofthisprocess.Thisiswherethe
studentsneedtoconcentrateandlistenthemost.The
goal,asillustratedbytheblockshapedrawing,istostop
thesoundwithoutanychangeinthetonequalityorpitch.
Heresachecklistforreleases:
1.Keepstill!Anymovementoftheembouchure,
instrument,orbodymayaffectthesoundorthe
pitch.
2.Theairshouldtravelfullspeedtothesilence.
Manytimesstudentsanticipatethereleaseby
slowingdowntheair.
3.Maintainthetonguepositionandthevowelsound
atthepointofrelease(thiswillalsostabilizethe
pitch).
4.Keepallofthechambersopenontherelease.This
includestheteeth/oralcavityandthethroat.Also
keeptheribcageupandthepostureelevated.
5.Lineupreleases!Stressthatanote,followedbya
rest,isalwayshelduntilthefirstbeatofsilence.
Itsimportanttostateatthispointthatallnotesdonot
havereleases.Ifyouareplayingaphraseorexercise
thatrequiresaseriesofnotestobeplayed
http://www.kjos.com/band/band_news/band_news_artic1.html

3/4

05/06/2016

BuildingListeningSkillsInTheBand,ArticulationPart1

consecutively,youshouldstressthattheairattheendof
thenotebeingplayedmusttouchandbalancetheairof
thenextnote.
Themechanicsofarticulationoutlinedinthisarticle
focusonfundamentalattacksustainreleaseprinciples.
Whetherwereworkingonlongtones,flexibility
exercises,orthemarchforthenextconcert,ourstudents
needtobeawareoftheconceptsthatshapearticulation
ontheirinstruments.Itisimportanttocreatetimein
everyrehearsaltofocusonposture,playingposition,
breathing,andqualitystartsandstops"tonotesand
phrases.Alloftheseissuesareinterconnectedandwill
requireconsistentreinforcementiftheensemblessound
andclarityaregoingtoimprove.InthenextissueofKjos
BandNews,wellexplorematchingstylesofarticulation
andrehearsalstrategiesthatwillpromotetheapplication
ofthesearticulationprinciplestoallmusicalsettings.
AboutRichardWilliams
AboutJeffKing
Copyright2001NeilA.KjosMusicCompany.Allrights
reserved.
<<PreviousArticle|BacktoIndex|BacktoTop|NextArticle>>

http://www.kjos.com/band/band_news/band_news_artic1.html

4/4