Ever play in the key of C and think, Why can't my band play in tune?
I have thought that over and over again, of course I have also thought that about F and Db. I know why my kids do not play B, E, A, and Gb in tune because they are playing the wrong notes but that is a whole different issue.
So why is it that some keys are so hard to play in tune, even when kids are playing the correct notes. Of course bad tone effects things,. but even at that what can I teach my students to help them figure out what is wrong and fix it.
I spent a lot of time and a masters degree researching pitch tendencies and why certain notes are out of tune on every instrument. Well not so strange those notes that are hard to tune across the band are usually the root note of the key signature for hard keys to play in tune. Yes, if you cannot play the root in tune there is no way possible to tune chords or play in that key. If there root changes so does the chord and key.
Recipe for disaster (problems in C)
Tuba: As you look at that jpg you can see the tuba is moderately sharp on concert C. The fingering 1 and 3 is built sharp so if they do not adjust it they will through everyone else off. Tuba players can prevent that by using 4th valve if they have one. That being said they still need to make sure there 4th valve slide is in tune.
Trumpet: Trumpet D (concert C) is flat above the staff and moderately sharp below the staff just like the tuba. So if upper trumpets are not careful they will be flat while at the same time tubas are playing sharp.
Clarinet: D (Concert C) in the staff is generally a little flat, while low D is sharp.
How do I fix these problems?
The answer I all was got when I was a young teacher was to play more chorales but it felt like we got better but very, very slowly. I thought to my self how do I teach kids to tune faster. There has to be a book to teach intonation to my students in a organized way just like rhythm, notes, tone etc.
So I bought all the books I could and they taught me a lot of information but they all missed something. The student. How do I teach my students. My students rarely have the opportunity for private lessons to have them learn it there so what can I do to remember all of these things to play in tune.
I wrote my own book Band Intonation Exercises and it was awesome my students started learning how to play in tune much faster and understood how to adjust pitch.
How do I get my kids to apply what they learned in BIE to their music?
ing, I realized after using BIE my students were listening, but we still had problems. So I used the ideas taught in BIE to write chorales in all 12 keys major and minor. Yes, I wrote 24 sets of 11 chorales. Major and minor need to be adjusted in different ways for every key.
I am putting them together in a method book (Band Intonation Chorales) to teach your students what notes need to be adjusted in each key so hopefully you can make that song that your band struggles to play in tune more in tune quickly and efficiently. Right now I have over 1000 pages between each individual part and score. It is going to be an awesome resource for teach your band to play in tune in any key.
I do not have very many examples out yet but you can see some of the features in the jpg in this article. I show sharp notes in red and flat notes in blue. If a note is the 3rd of the key I label it with -14 so you know to lower it by -14 cents. I also label the 6th and 7th scale degree in major. Then in minor you raise the 3rd, 6th, and 7th.
Band Intonation Exercises and Band Intonation Chorales are the best resource to teach your students to listen, adjust pitch and play in tune.