How to Play the Baritone
The baritone is a low-pitched member of the brass family with a deep, rich sound, and looks a bit like a small tuba. This instrument is most often heard in a concert setting. Learning the baritone can be a rewarding experience, whether you’re learning to play for a school band or for your own enjoyment. The learning process may be frustrating at first, but time and dedication will help you achieve playing the baritone.
Acquiring a Baritone
Consider renting a baritone at first.Baritones can be quite expensive, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Start with a rental if you are on a lower budget or not sure about your dedication to the instrument.
- Lease a baritone if you want to own it eventually. A payment is typically made every two to three months until the instrument is paid off. The instrument will not be yours until the final payment is made, but you will have the baritone while you are making payments.
Think about getting a student model.Different models are made for different experience levels. A student level baritone is typically cheaper, more durable, and more simply made than a professional level baritone.
- Try contacting a music dealer to fit you with a baritone that feels comfortable for you.
- If you must purchase the instrument online, try to communicate with the seller about your level of experience.
Purchase a case.A baritone is easily damaged. It is important to protect your baritone when you are not using it. A good case will have strong handles, sturdy backpack straps, and most importantly, it will provide a snug fit.
- A leather case is most often used by musicians because it is light and durable.
Learning the Basics of Playing
Place the baritone in your lap.Make sure the valves are facing up. Pick up your mouthpiece and carefully insert it into the mouthpiece hole.
- Avoid inserting the mouthpiece with too much force. Inserting it too hard will cause a jam.
Position the baritone in your arms.The instrument may feel heavy at first, so spend some time getting used to the weight. Support the instrument with your left arm. Place your right hand on the valves.
Sit with a straight posture to optimize playing and sound.Sit with your back up against the chair. Place your feet flat and parallel to each other on the ground.
Tighten your lips and make a buzzing sound on the mouthpiece.Work towards a consistent pitch. Don’t be discouraged if it sounds uneven at first. Right now you are just working on getting your instrument to make noise.
Take deep, slow breaths and exhale strongly.Focus on the sound being produced. The baritone makes a very low and rich sound. The speed of your lips determines the pitch as well.
- Make a buzzing sound consistently. You don't want to put in all your energy on the first five seconds and then become tired!
Practice fingering the valves.Not knowing the scales is normal and expected for a beginner. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what note you’re playing yet. Work on getting familiar with the valves and then learn the scales.
Finish your practice session with care.Gently remove the mouthpiece and put it in the mouthpiece hole in the case. Return the instrument to its case. The case should be stored with the bell in an upright position. An incorrectly stored case with the bell turned upside down will weaken and damage the instrument over time.
- Check and clean the spit valve regularly after a practice session. If a slide doesn't have a spit valve take out the slide and shake out the water.
- Store the case in a place with a cool or moderate temperature.Don't put your instrument nearby a heat source like a heating as it can damage it.
Improving your Playing
Learn the parts.You will need to learn the names and locations of the parts on your baritone. Pull up a picture, or use your instrument to identify the parts. The main parts are:
- The bell. The bell is the large, rounded opening where the sound waves emerge from your instrument. Sometimes the bell is straight, and sometimes it is bent forward. The bell is designed to produce the best tone and volume possible.
- The three valves. The valves are comprised of three parts: the casings, pistons, and valve slides. The casings are the three cylindrical metal tubes that keep the pistons in place. The pistons move up and down inside the casings as you press on them. The pistons have small holes in them so that the air moves through them to produce different tones as you play. The valve slides change the length of the baritone’s tubing in order to produce different tones. There are three valve slides, and the first valve slide is the closest to the mouthpiece.
- Water key. The water key allows you to remove moisture from inside the horn. It is a small metal lever that is usually located on the main tuning slide. This part can be used by pressing on the key and blowing into the mouthpiece.
- Mouthpiece receiver. This part connects the mouthpiece to the baritone. It is typically a small metal cylinder that is fused to the end of the pipe that connects the baritone and mouthpiece.
- Mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is a large, deeply cupped metal part that directs the air and lip vibrations into the baritone.
- Main tuning slide. This part of the instrument is used to make micro-tuning adjustments. The water key is located on top of this part.
Learn to read sheet music for the baritone.You will need to be able to read sheet music practice to your scales while playing. Look for a basic guide for beginners.
- The notes are in some cases the same as the ones for trombones; it depends on what key you are playing in.
- The baritone can play of treble clef and bass clef so make sure you know which one you are playing. B flat baritones are normally treble clef and C baritones are normally bass clef.
Learn the scales.The scales become more complicated as you advance in your practice. To begin with, search for beginner scale exercises.
- Scales are usually thought of as a series of notes played from and back down again. Practice playing in that order.
- Scales are usually played out of order when you become more advanced. Try playing low and high notes together.
Practice breathing exercises.A large part of playing the baritone is blowing air into your instrument. Breathing exercises will help you control the pitch you are playing, and allow you to gain stamina.
- Take twelve very small breaths of air in. Release the air in the next four counts. Repeat three or four times.
- Start with your arms by your side. Take six breaths in as you raise your arms next to your head. Breath out six times as you lower your arms. You should be halfway through your six breaths when your arms are out straight at your sides.
Continuing Your Education
Start researching formal classes.Determine if a group or individual class is best for you. A class with other students gives you multiple opinions and people to practice with. A private class offers focused attention on your technique and progress.
Continue practicing on your own.Whether classes are in your future or not, practicing on your own is necessary. Sign up for an online class or watch YouTube videos to continue improving.
Ask questions when you get stuck on a problem.There will probably come a time during your practice time when you encounter a tricky note or song that you get stuck on. Don’t be afraid to reach out to online message boards, YouTube, or other musicians in your area to ask questions about playing your instrument.
Find a group to play with.Once you have built confidence in your playing, you could start looking for a band in your area seeking a baritonist. The band could play for fun, or for performance. Playing your music with and for others is a great way to take your playing to another level.
- Look for a potential band on websites like Craigslist. Be sure that to be safe in any situation involving meeting with strangers, though.
- Ask other musicians if they know anyone that needs a baritonist.
- Form a band with other friends that play instruments.
Taking Care of Your Baritone
Oil the valves.Unscrew the camp on the first valve. Pull the piston (inside the valve) out halfway, and put a few drops of oil onto the wide part of the piston. Put the piston back inside the valve and secure tightly. Repeat this step with the other two valves.
- Make sure to buy oil specifically made for the instrument. Trombone valve oil works too.
- Do not apply too much oil. It can damage other parts of your instrument.
Clean the mouthpiece.Use a mouthpiece brush to scrub it with warm water and dish soap. Repeat this process every week or so.
Grease the slides.Pull one slide out at a time, polish it with cloth, and grease it lightly with slide grease, Vaseline can be good alternative. Replace the slide and repeat the process.
Polish your instrument.Use a polish cloth and lightly rub it to remove fingerprints or any other unwanted blemishes. Do not use liquid polish because it can remove the instrument’s finish.
Take it to a repair shop once a year.Give your baritone a yearly check up at a repair shop to make sure there is nothing stuck in or wearing down your instrument. Take it more than once a year if you feel that your instrument is not playing like it should be.
QuestionWhat is a trick to get higher notes on the baritone?Top AnswererPurse your lips like you're playing normal notes. Put your top lip over your bottom lip and blow concentrated air downwards. It should make less of a buzzing noise.Thanks!
QuestionWhen playing a brass or wind instrument, am I supposed to sit on the edge of the chair?Community AnswerYes. You are supposed to sit at the front of your chair as the sound will be better.Thanks!
QuestionOne of the slides on my baritone gets stuck. How can I remove it without expensive equipment?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you have a band director, ask him. If not, see if you can move the slide as much as you can without damaging it, and add timing slide grease and exercise it until it comes loose.Thanks!
QuestionCan I wear braces if I am playing the baritone?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but the sound might be slightly different, depending on your teeth and lip position.Thanks!
QuestionI have been playing the baritone for three years. My music teacher says I need to improve on playing louder and taking breaths (which are kind of the same). How do I improve on them?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTo improve your volume, try loosening your embouchure. To improve your timing for taking breaths, try writing commas in your sheet music pretty much everywhere where you could take a breath without messing up the song. When you're playing and you get to one of the commas take a deep breath (try not to make it very audible). Having more air in your lungs will also help your volume as it will allow you to put stronger breaths into each note. If you find that you're taking too many breaths, you can erase a few commas. Practice a lot.Thanks!
QuestionIn the picture, that was a marching baritone. Why not use a pic of a regular one?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat was not a marching baritone; it was a regular one turned on its side.Thanks!
QuestionI have a non-compensating four-valve euphonium that makes it hard to hit the fourth valve. How can I get better?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry positioning your hand so your pinkie is resting lower; this will make it easier to reach the valve. Keep in mind that your pinkie will grow stronger over time.Thanks!
QuestionMy baritone valve will not open, and not even the music store can get it unstuck. What should I do?Community AnswerTry unscrewing the valve and adding valve oil to it. If you are having trouble with that, speak to a music instructor or consider getting a replacement.Thanks!
QuestionWhat about the marching baritone?Community AnswerThe steps here should work for any kind of baritone or euphonium, including a marching baritone.Thanks!
How can I play without puffing my cheeks?
- Your lips, regardless if you're playing low or high notes, should be pressed tightly together. This makes the proper buzzing sound.
- To see if you're blowing into the instrument correctly, take off the mouthpiece and just blow into that. If you hear a constant buzzing sound, that's good.
- If you are in school, don't hesitate to join the band. Joining a school band is a definite way to assure that you will always have a teacher. A new teacher will be brought in if another teacher leaves.
- Sometimes the valves will stick and make them difficult to move. Invest in valve oil. On the bottom of each valve is a hole. Do not pour oil into the valve, but open the valve. Only put a few drops directly on the valve.
- Try to avoid eating before playing. Brush your teeth before playing if you do eat. Food can get stuck in the instrument and damage it.
- Make sure to dump out any spit you accumulate while practicing. On the bottom of some tubes is a little button you can push called a "spit valve". Push that valve and blow to release the oil, water, and spit. Do this on a rag, not on the floor!
- Identity what key you are playing in. A baritone playing bass clef music is in the key of C and a baritone playing in treble clef music is in the key of B flat.
- The water key may also be referred to as the spit valve
- Take a breather if you get lightheaded for playing too much. Your lungs will get stronger over time.
- You should not be pushing the valves too hard. The pads for the valves that make the valves quiet will wear out very quickly if you do.
- Do not use pliers if your mouthpiece gets stuck. You can damage your baritone by using the wrong tools. Take the horn to your teacher, or to a music store. They have tools that remove stuck mouthpieces. You might want to invest in one of these tools.
- Make sure to play in a place that will be okay with your practice. Don’t play in a location that is not okay with loud noise or music.
Video: How to Play the Baritone/ Euphonium
8 Times Hailey Baldwin Gave Us Serious StyleEnvy
4 Sweet Summer Snacks Under 110 Calories
Are You Really A Healthy Eater
Celebrities Who Have Only Gotten Better withAge
How to Get Lots of Friends
4 Fun Ways To Fight Fat
Never Go Thirsty Again With These Cute, Functional Water Bottles
5 Simple Steps To Breastfeeding Success
How to Live Cheaply
Five Truly Magical Cinderella Moments
Now Playing: Make in India – Mining
The Most Expensive Private Number Plates Ever Sold
These Are the Victims of the School Shooting in Florida
38 Stunning Ways to Wear Bantu Knots
You dont already have a space in mind for your art