Here are a couple of band tuning and listening warm ups we’ve found to be really useful and effective. The first came thanks to Bob Montgomery, the well known trumpet player and educator from Denver in the USA. We can’t recall the origin of the second one, but have used it for a long time.
1. Scale, in pairs
Listening to each other
Do this with any scale you like, concert Bb major is the common and obvious one.
Player 1 and player 2 play the first note of the scale together. They have to keep playing it until they are in tune with each other. Then player 2 & player 3 do the same with the second note. Then Player 3 and player 4 repeat the exercise with the third note. Continue in the same way until you have worked your way around the whole band.
This helps develop listening and intonation control. It reinforces the point that “in tune” means being the same as the other instruments you are playing with.
Concentrating and playing together
This involves everyone at once, including rhythm section/percussion.
You count out loud 8 beats. The band have to play a short note on, say, count “2”, “4” and “7”. Repeat for a while until all are accurate.
Then vary it. Play on “2”, “the and of 4” and “7”
Then vary it more: Play on “the and of 2”, “4”, and “the and of 7”.
Repeat it, vary it, make it harder as you need to.
This helps with counting, internal time, listening and, above all, concentration. It can be an excellent way to get the group to focus at the start of rehearsal or after a break.
Try these, if you haven’t before, and let us know how they go. Got any other good ideas? Feel free to share them!