What Are Long Tones?

Written by on September 19, 2015

Ask any woodwind or brass player what one of the most important practice techniques is, and they’ll almost certainly point you to long tones. What are they, and why are they so important?

Long tones are exactly what they sound like: you play a note into your horn and hold it at a steady volume and pitch for as long as your breath will allow. Then you go up or down and half step and repeat, ultimately going through the full range of your instrument. Doing so can be a bit tedious, but the results are amazing: your tone improves dramatically, your breath control increases, and your playable range on your instrument will go up. It is one of the most important practice techniques you can employ – learn more below:

Here, trombonist and educator Chris Washburne shows you a practice regimen with long tones:

Do you need to take a step back to look at proper breathing techniques? Saxophonist Erica von Kleist gives an intro lesson – click here!