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Brian Kay


Performance Tips for Brass Players

Too many brass players play performances that are not nearly as good as their best practices. Sometimes people go to play and their mouthpiece feels totally different, their lips don't respond, their tone shakes, and they forget important things. This doesn't have to happen to you! You only get one chance for each performance, so follow these tips to make the most of it.

You need to have your Mind Focused and your Body Prepared.

Focus Your Mind

  • Let go of distracting thoughts like "I'm not good enough", or "I should have practiced more".
  • Tell yourself things like, "I am going to play great".
  • Go over and over in your mind exactly what you want to sound like.
  • Review how your piece goes and what you want to remember.
  • Picture yourself playing well and remember the last time you played your piece well.

Prepare Your Body

  • Take lots of deep, slow breaths. When people get nervous, they don't breathe well, and you need to fix this for good brass playing. Spend the whole time when you are waiting to play taking deep breaths (30 or more). Blow warm air into your instrument with a "sighing" breath.
  • Keep your lips limber. Come early to the concert and do your best warm-up. While you are waiting to play, keep your mouthpiece with you and buzz or blow air through every now and then (during applause for pieces before you, or any chance you get).
  • Eat a healthy meal beforehand so you are not too full and not to hungry. Drink some water.


Before you play: Take lots of deep breaths and think about how you want to play. Keep your lips limber by buzzing your mouthpiece.

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