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Playing quietly - is it bad practice?

Kath

Member
Messages
119
I'm always trying to play quietly - neighbours mainly! I sometimes 'let rip' which is great, but by far the majority of my practice time - approx 2 to 3 hours/day - is done trying to be quiet. It's harder i think but am wondering - am I developing bad habits? Should I try really hard to find times I can play louder????
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Subscriber
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8,898
I would have thought playing quietly is good practice.
It requires greater control.
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
For myself, I would imagine that playing quietly is very good practice and not something which should be omitted. However, to some degree I would suggest that playing over a full range of volumes must also be of value to ensure that you have the same control over tone, intonation, and articulation when called upon to play at varying volumes and particularly loudly, and also for the additional physical development to be gained in the chops and lungs/diaphragm etc. This is only my assumption though as opposed to being able to claim any experience.
 

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Well, a teacher told me once that play quietly is better for the control (as mentioned above) and that it will improve your dynamics while playing. He argues (and I tend to agree) that you can't play at full range all the time, otherwise you may sound some sort of boring...
I play quietly as well but different from you I do so because I must play after my 2 boys are sleeping...
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
It would also depend on the quality of the sound, is it rich/subtoney or weak/wobbly/thin?
 
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Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
He argues (and I tend to agree) that you can't play at full range all the time, otherwise you may sound some sort of boring...
Ah, by "full range" I didn't mean full blast, but rather over the entire volume range of the horn from quiet to loud and all levels in between but perhaps with plenty of emphasis on the quiet end to get those control benefits.

At my first band practice on Tuesday night I really let rip when I saw 3 Fs but went wildly out of tune. Fortunately amongst 4 tenors and 3 altos I'm not sure too many people knew it was me!
 

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Ah, by "full range" I didn't mean full blast, but rather over the entire volume range of the horn from quiet to loud and all levels in between but perhaps with plenty of emphasis on the quiet end to get those control benefits.
Thanks for the clarification.... But I understood that... :)
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
I used to practice really quietly, so as not to disturb the neighbours, but found that when it came to playing gigs and rehearsing with drummers, I wasn't projecting enough. So I'd recommend practicing across the full dynamic range of the instrument, if that's possible. Now I've only got one immediate neighbour, I wait til they've gone out and give it a bit of welly - such fun!!
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,088
Being able to practice three hours a day is sheer luxury! I can get away with about four hours per week - and I am a novice so I am keen as mustard to get better! I think it will take me a long time if everyone is able to practice as mush as you can!

Well done.....I am very envious!
 

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Thank you everyone - I feel much better now. I was worried I was doing something very wrong!! I'll keep t it - and relish the days the neighbours are out and I can feel what it's like to play really loud!
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,079
The weather has been keeping me in lately and I've been having a lot of trouble with intonation, control and tone recently. A good blast for 4 hours out on the street today has sorted me out. Take your horn for a walk. Park, countryside. Go annoy somebody else's neighbours lol

It takes control to play quietly. There's a thread on here about the oval embouchure.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,946
My teacher says that a problem he encounters is players unable to play loud and project as they don't want to make too much noise! He has to work hard ot persuade his girl pupils that it is OK to let rip. He likes the fact that I'm not too afraid to give it some stick.

I agree - you need to be able to play at all dynamic levels.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,950
My teacher says that a problem he encounters is players unable to play loud and project as they don't want to make too much noise! He has to work hard ot persuade his girl pupils that it is OK to let rip.
This teacher finds this too.

I would question the comment that playing quietly requires more control. I think playing very loudly requires just as much and I find very few players who can do it well.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,312
In the end your playing the horn which is the main factor and you say you do let rip at times.You could get some foam soundproofing tiles.not that costly (£25.00 for 25) and do a corner of a room with them and play there.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
This teacher finds this too.

I would question the comment that playing quietly requires more control. I think playing very loudly requires just as much and I find very few players who can do it well.
I must say that playing regularly with a band is as useful as practicing at home, in this concern.
Some great musicians allegedly used a softer reed at home to increase control and a harder reed when playing live.
The most annoying aspect of people not used to play loud, is that they tend to go horribly flat when they do. This is one of the reasons I take ages to select an instrument or a mouthpiece: if it sounds great at home, it does not mean it will sound great on stage.

Playing outside, with no reflecting surfaces, is quite an experience. You need to trust your own sound.
A friend of mine used to go and practice on the pier, to improve his sound. I am not aware of any ship accident that could have been his fault.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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13,979
In the end your playing the horn which is the main factor and you say you do let rip at times.You could get some foam soundproofing tiles.not that costly (£25.00 for 25) and do a corner of a room with them and play there.
Sadly, soundproofing tiles do very little. Acoustic tiles help to cut down reflections inside the room but don't do anything significant regarding stopping the sound going through walls.

re: practising quietly. It is not good IMO if that is all you ever do, as others have pointed out you need to also practise loud. I find that wen playing loud, there is tendency for notes to go flat. If you only ever practised quietly, then found your self in a situation where loudness was required, you might have problems with tone and intonation so you should practise the whole range of dynamics.

I used to get in a wardrobe to practise when my landlady complained.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
The most annoying aspect of people not used to play loud, is that they tend to go horribly flat when they do.
I find that wen playing loud, there is tendency for notes to go flat.
Isn't it amazing the way people from different cultural backgrounds express the same concept? I need to improve my Britishness. Indeed.
 
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