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Suggested Reading

1. Rehearsal Rooms

Struggling to improve the acoustics in your band room? Check out how the Medan Band did it.

2. Concerned about playing swing music properly?

Check out my guidelines

3. Ear training exercises for bands

Unlike piano players, ear training is essential for wind band performers. But how many band directors bother to give their bands suitable exercises?

4. Intonation problems

While tuning is simple act of adjusting a length of tubing on a wind instrument (often by reference to a single note), intonation is an ongoing process in which a player strives to match the pitch of others in the ensemble during performance. 

5. “Blowing” a wind instrument

A common misconception among wind players is to believe that the air moves through the instrument in order to produce the sound. This is simply not true. 

6. Conducting – suggestions for home practice

The best way for a conductor to improve is in front of a live ensemble. The unfortunate reality, however, is that this is not always possible. Aspiring conductors therefore have little choice but to find other ways of honing their skills.

 

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Construction Materials

Musicians often express strong opinions about the type of materials their instruments should be made of.  Very often, a particular type of wood or metal is regarded as critical in determining the timbre of high quality wind instruments.  A perusal of the catalogues of many well-known manufacturers suggests that commercial designers agree.  This is a very controversial area, however.  Since the late nineteenth century, generations of sceptical scientists have sought to challenge these ideas by conducting double blind tests involving musical instruments made out of paper, plastic and even (in one famous case) cheese!  The music world, however, has remained unmoved

 The most crucial variables determining the timbre of brass instruments are their size and shape. 
Some of the ideas held by musicians about the sound characteristics of various construction materials are therefore repeated on this website.  However, it is worth bearing in mind that not all of these assumptions have been proven scientifically.  Moreover, in cases where the construction material really does turn out to be important acoustically, the effect is only secondary. It is generally accepted among acousticians (but not musicians!), for example, that wall material vibrations play only a very minor role in sound production in woodwind instruments.

It is true that differences in material, thickness and finish have been known to affect the radiated spectrum of brass instruments. But it is not yet established that they are all musically significant. By far the most crucial variables determining the timbre of wind instruments are their size and shape. Only in the case of the soundboard resonances of stringed instruments does the scientific evidence appear to coincide with popular wisdom amongst musicians.

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