Tuning Your Instrument

 

Tuning is an essential part of being in a music program. Even at an early music level, it is important to start training the ears to hear different pitches. It is always highly recommended for students to purchase tuners so they may practice their pitches at a more accurate tone.

Some instruments have tendencies to go either flat or sharp, depending on the pitch that is being played. Below, you'll find a chart with common pitch issues for each instrument and what can be done by the students to correct the pitch.

 

Instrument What to Do
Flute

Sharp - pull out head joint or roll in slightly

Flat - push in head joint or roll out slightly

 

Oboe and Bassoon

Sharp - loosen embouchure and roll lips out


Flat - tighten corners of mouth and use more air support

*See a private teacher for reed assistance

 

Clarinet and Saxophones

Sharp - pull out mouthpiece slightly

Flat - push in mouthpiece slightly

 

Trumpet, French horn, Trombone, Baritone/Euphonium, and Tuba

Sharp - pull out tuning slide slightly

Flat - push in tuning slide slightly

 

 

Instrument Tendencies

Instrument Notes What to Do
Flute

Sharp
C and C#

 

Roll in to lower pitch

 

Oboe

Sharp
C#, D, D#, E, F#

 

Roll lips out to lower pitch

 

Bassoon

Sharp
E and F#

 

Drop lower jaw to lower pitch

Use an alternative fingering

 

Clarinet

Sharp
Ab, A, high B, high C

 

Drop jaw to lower pitch

Add right hand keys to Ab and A

 

Saxophones

Sharp
D and A

 

Drop jaw to lower pitch

 

Trumpet

Flat
high D and E

Sharp
low C# and D

 

Flat - Air support to raise pitch

Sharp - Extend 3rd valve to lower pitch

 

French horn

Sharp
A and D

 

Cup hand further into bell to lower pitch

 

Trombone

Flat
high D

 

Use an alternative slide position

 

Baritone or Euphonium

Flat
high C# and D

Sharp
low B and C

 

Flat - Lip up the notes to raise pitch

Sharp - Lip down the notes to lower pitch

 

Tuba

Flat
C#

Sharp
low B and C

 

Flat - Lip up the notes to raise pitch

Sharp - Lip down the notes to lower pitch

 

 

Exploring Intonation

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Using a tuner, play each pitch on your instrument for eight full beats without any dynamics or vibrato.  Do not try to adjust the pitch with your embouchure or alternate fingerings.  Record the pitches onto the chart below using the following method:

 

- 1-10 cents flat + 1-10 cents sharp
-- 11-20 cents flat ++ 11-20 cents sharp
--- 21-30 cents flat +++ 21-30 cents sharp
---- 31-40 cents flat ++++ 31-40 cents sharp
----- 41-50 cents flat +++++ 41-50 cents sharp

 

If the note is in tune, then either draw a check or write “In Tune” in the blank.  Use this to evaluate your instrument's tendencies with certain pitches.  Practice with a tuner every day to work on training the ears to hear the proper pitches.

 

Pitch Octave 1 Octave 2 Octave 3
C      
C#/Db      
D      
D#/Eb      
E      
F      
F#/Gb      
G      
G#/Ab      
A      
A#/Bb      
B      

 

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