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Discussion Starter #1
So I've read about how practicing outside (e.g in backyard on patio) can really improve your tone.

My question is that is this true? I'm just starting Alto and would love to start doing this if it will open my ears up and really improve my Alto and Tenor tone. Tone is my most important thing I've been working hard on for these past couple years.

Feedback, and any opinions/ thread links would be appreciated.

Also, how does it all work? Is it simply opening your ear up?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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It can improve your tone in that when you are in an open space and the sound can be quite "dead", ie there is no room ambience (reverb) which can flatter the sound (that's why people sometimes play into a wall or a corner).

However if your backyard or patio is surrounded by garden walls, you won't get the benefit of a dead sound as there will be some ambience or echo from those walls.

Because the sound is dead, you have to work harder to get a nice tone to compensate for the lack of the flattering ambience. But one problem is that although this is good practice, it can be a bit of a downer as you just don't sound as good.

If you are the type of person who gets discouraged easily, then you might get discouraged and think you aren't actually improving so you need to go back indoors every now and again and blow into a corner.
 

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If you are the type of person who gets discouraged easily, then you might get discouraged and think you aren't actually improving so you need to go back indoors every now and again and blow into a corner.
Plus, if you are like me, your playing may prompt your neighbours to hire a hitman to take you out. There are ways to do this.... :mrgreen:
 

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It may help develop your tone, in the way Pete says. However, I think the idea is more that it will help you achieve a bigger, fuller sound, since you really have to put a lot of air in the horn and work at it to get any kind of big sound outdoors.

As to tone quality, I could be wrong, but I would think playing into a wall or somewhere you can actually hear your tone would be more conducive to working on that tone. But you do have to do this very critically, or you might be fooled into thinking your tone is better than it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well normally I practice in a corner 90% of the time in a practice room. Practicing ensemble music, etudes, long tones, overtones, and solos.

But I was curious if this is something I could benefit from, I get discouraged easily but at the same time that motivates me to work harder, I enjoy practicing not because it's fun because it's not....but because I know I'm doing the right thing and bettering myself as a musician, person, and teacher.

So a fuller sound is a must for me so it seems I should at least try this. Any other opinions?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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But I was curious if this is something I could benefit from, I get discouraged easily but at the same time that motivates me to work harder, I enjoy practicing not because it's fun because it's not....
I think it's a matter of balance. Play outside (or in a dead sounding space) to me you work hard, but then if you are discouraged, and that is having a negative effect, go inside and play into a corner to get some encouragement and feelgood factor.

I think that is the ideal, to mix and match and, above all, understand what is going on with both of those acoustics.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
ok thanks.
 

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give it a shot for a week - practice outside and/or in a sound-dead room. then, go to your usual performance place and see how your sound has changed.

i would highly recommend recording yourself as often as possible and using the recording for another perspective or reference to your own ears. as mentioned previously, regardless of where you like to practice, it is probably good to change it up now and then.

personally, growing up in larger cities, i got used to practicing wherever i could that would help minimize my impact on neighbors. consequently, two of the most common places were in a bedroom closet filled with clothes and on an embankment next to the freeway.
 

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I generally practice outside when weather permits. Living on near 250 acres affords one a certain luxury, but I'm not sure it's much more beneficial than inside practice to be honest. We have some sheds around the property and it's rather nice to get a returning echo, but other than that I would say that there's no real advantage one way or the other. The real benefit is the practice itself.
 

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Well normally I practice in a corner 90% of the time in a practice room. Practicing ensemble music, etudes, long tones, overtones, and solos.

But I was curious if this is something I could benefit from, I get discouraged easily but at the same time that motivates me to work harder, I enjoy practicing not because it's fun because it's not....but because I know I'm doing the right thing and bettering myself as a musician, person, and teacher.

So a fuller sound is a must for me so it seems I should at least try this. Any other opinions?
IMHO if practice is not fun for you you should switch majors.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
IMHO if practice is not fun for you you should switch majors.
Practicing is about being the ultimate critic. I disagree with you entirely.
 

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I think that is the ideal, to mix and match and, above all, understand what is going on with both of those acoustics.
This brings up another very important point. When you start gigging in various venues, you're going to have to deal with all kinds of acoustical situations, some great, most not-so-great. I distinctly remember the first time I played in a really acousitally dead room in a club (a lot like playing in a closet full of clothes or in an open field). I thought something was wrong with the horn and really had trouble adjusting. I've also played in extremely live rooms with lots of glass & hard wood surfaces. That can sound great if you play alone, off mic, but with a band the sound bounces all over the place, which can be very irritating and distracting. This sort of thing can really affect your playing, so it's a good idea to get used to different sound environments and learn to play equally well in all of them.

Regarding practicing, I enjoy it most of the time. I'm glad of that because otherwise I doubt I'd be able to force myself to do it enough.
 

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Playing outside will broaden your perspective on how you really sound -- it gives you awareness on how you sound. Much that playing into a corner is the polar opposite. You become aware that your perceived tone is somewhere in between these 'poles' and you make adjustments accordingly.

Of the two, I think playing outside has the most value. I always like my sound when playing in a corner.
 

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Maybe so but it's a long journey young man you may as well enjoy the ride.
For me at least, hearing something that I got out of practice is why I play. Practicing gets me there, sometimes it's enjoyable, other times it's... frustrating or a hastle.

-Bubba-
 

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It's definitely different. Just by consciously doing different things on you horn can always help.

It's harder to play quiet outside for sure.

Also you can loose an idea of actually how loud your playing sometimes. People I know around town will often come up to me and say "I could hear you from 3 blocks away".
 

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Also you can loose an idea of actually how loud your playing sometimes. People I know around town will often come up to me and say "I could hear you from 3 blocks away".
In the summer i play on my screened porch overlooking the river. Neighbors can hear it from a loooong distance. Sometimes I even have kayakers and boaters stop to listen, and I'm a rank amateur.
 
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