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  • Writer's pictureKeith Johnston

Tuning Time!



Ensemble tuning is a never-ending process. As educators we work very hard to teach music fundamentals to our students. We're always working to advance our students ability to play with a quality tone, increase their sensitivity to music including the holy trinity of Balance, Blend, and Articulation.


Something I've long searched for has been a system for tuning the ensemble that allows players to quickly adjust their pitch based on the relative pitch of the entire ensemble. As we all know, tuning is both an art that requires strict adherence to a measurable standard (example: A=440) but also the training and awareness to adjust as needed. How many times has an ensemble found its pitch creeping up to 442, or even 444 but has that one player with "perfect pitch" who refuses to adjust.


I've attached here a system that I've found works really for my wind bands. It uses Bb as the fundamental and adds in the entire ensemble alternating between Bb and F. Using that open 5th as well as a step-wise resolution from F up to Bb helps to lock in intonation of the ensemble, and develop the listening skills that enable students to listen critically in passages that require chordal, scalar, or interval playing. I use it for large marching and symphonic bands, and smaller wind ensembles, all with great results.


I hope you find this tuning sequence helpful!

Tuning Sequence
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