Learning to produce a good tone can often be one of the trickiest things to learn about playing music, and often remains a “work-in-progress.” But don’t let that discourage you! Though creating and maintaining a good tone can be challenging, there are a few simple things you can do to make it easier:
- Sit up straight.Especially if you are singing or playing a wind instrument, sitting properly (feet on the floor, back straight and tall) is one of the best things you can do for getting a good sound. Every time you slouch, you squish your lungs and your diaphragm– if they don’t have enough room to expand for maximum intake and exhale, your sound is going to come out pinched, shallow, off key, and weak. Sit up straight and you’ll immediately notice a difference.
- Take deep breaths. A good, solid air movement with lots of air moving in and out of your lungs is what keeps the pitch where it needs to be. Air has to move in order to support the sounds you are trying to make. If you remember to “breathe from your belly,” i.e. use your diaphragm, that makes your sound all the stronger, and it also enables you to do a greater range of dynamics within the music.
- Hold your instrument properly.With most instruments, there’s a reason why we hold them a certain way. Usually it’s for maximizing their sound production (i.e. not cuddling your ukulele helps the instrument be louder). Checking yourself in a mirror can help you make sure you’re holding yourself and your instrument correctly.
- Be comfortable! Another reason we hold our instruments properly is because when you play, you should be relaxed — and (usually) a properly held instrument facilitates this. There should be no tension in your shoulder, arms, or hands. All the parts you need to play should be able to move freely. Sometimes holding an instrument can be a little bit of an adventure, especially since no two people are built exactly the same way. If you find you are holding your instrument properly, but it’s causing extreme tension, take a few moments to figure out why. Something may need to change — a different chair, letting your arm rest a little different, etc. The bottom line is to be comfortable. If you’re comfortable, chances are, you’re relaxed, and that helps you create a good sound.
If you’re doing the basics, getting a good tone immediately becomes easier, and in no time you’ll find yourself sounding like a pro! 🙂