Ask Wayne

Let Wayne Downey help you explore the world of brass performance and technique and help you become the master brass performer you've always dreamed of. Don't be bashful, send him an e-mail, he'll get right back to you.

Wayne would love to share some of the secrets that have helped him guide the Blue Devils brass section to an unprecedented 22 Jim Ott Memorial Trophies for "Excellence in Brass Performance" at the DCI Championship.

Here are a couple of questions that brass players from all over the world have sent Wayne already:

  1. I always had kind of a weird embouchure and I thought that might be limiting me. So I thought that with a fresh start I would experiment and try to get something more "normal." Thing is, there is still a discrepancy between what feels good and what looks good. What feels right to me is a mouthpiece placement that's about 2/3 upper lip, 1/3 lower and slightly off to the right side. I noticed that a lot of the lead players (screamers in my band) seem to play with a lot of lower lip, so in an attempt to become one of them I tried playing with a 2/3 lower lip, 1/3 upper lip embouchure but it feels weird as all get up. Of course, it sounds like crud too, but I figure I could get used to it with practice. Question is, is it worth the effort?
  2. Hello Wayne, I just wanted to ask how I could improve my tone and range. I plan to try out for a drum corps this fall and I hear plenty of people telling me that the three things I will need are a good attitude, good tone, and good marching. I have the work-ethic attitude and I march pretty well, but I do not know about my tone. You see, I do not know what is good tone and what is bad. I play trumpet and normally I prefer to stick to either 2nd part or 3rd part, music that is not too terribly difficult range-wise and also is much easier to tune. What kind of tone should I be looking for? And also, how do I achieve this tone?

    The other subject I would like to ask you about is range. Although I do not plan on playing too much above a Concert Bb above the staff, I would like to be able to play above that anyway, in case I am to need it for when I audition this fall. What do I need to do to achieve good range? (Note: I am not looking to become one of those players who can blast a Double C or anything, just a good range player).

If you'd like to do more than just ask questions try CyberLesson!

CyberLesson - Join the communication revolution of the 21st Century with CyberLesson. This new and exciting learning experience allows students and teachers anywhere in the world to take a private brass lesson with Wayne Downey via the Internet.

Learn more about CyberLesson.


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