Download exercise sheet- Shake exercise sheet

Download audio instructions- Shakes

The similarity between the lip (tongue) trill and the shake are remarkable. Everything that we had practiced to produce a tongue trill will now be applied to the technique of playing shakes. The only difference between the two is that in a lip (tongue) trill, you are changing notes through the use of the slight arch of your tongue, and in a shake; the notes are changed through the slight movement of the hand on your instrument.

I began this series explaining the effect of the hand’s movement on the instrument to produce a vibrato and when producing a shake, this same technique will be used. I also demonstrated the function of the embouchure in striving for the imposable note between the two harmonics when we practiced the lip (tongue) trill and this control will also be used when producing a shake. Now that we have developed the ability to comfortably play in between harmonics and move the instrument into and away from our lip, we can easily apply these techniques to produce a shake.

Explanation of goals for each of the following lines-

A– Center your pitch on the false fingered Eb and slowly and slightly push the mouthpiece away from your lip which will make the note slide down to the C with the same fingering.

B– Lower the Eb by pushing the mouthpiece away and strive to play the C high in pitch.

CAgain, try to shrink the distance between the two notes.

DContinue to strive for a note between the Eb and the C. The closer you can play the two notes, the easier the shake will become.

EThis is your ultimate goal. Sit on a D note half way between the upper and lower notes. This is impossible with the 2-3 fingering and as you increase or decrease the slightest pressure, the notes will move back and forth. Continue to work for the pitch half way between Eb and C.

F– Begin this exercise in tune on the Eb and as you increase speed by moving the mouthpiece in and out, lower the Eb and raise the C so that they are as close as possible to each other.

The amount of speed which you will be able to play will depend on how fast you move your instrument back and forth. Remember to lock your pitch to a note in between the two you are playing. Changing from one note to the other should require only a slight change in pressure.

Shakes are made much easier when alternate fingerings are used for the two affected note will most often be closer together. Try to use as many valves as possible to do a shake. If you are finding that you can start the first note and push away to get the second note, but have trouble sliding back up to the first note, you are probably applying too much pressure on the lip. Increase your pucker embouchure when you begin and strive to hit and stay on the note in between without changing your embouchure setting. With an increase in a more pucker embouchure and a more centered pitch, you should gain the sensation that even a puff of wind could send your two notes back and forth easily. This is what you are striving for.

Things to check-

  • Center your pitch between the notes you are playing.
  • Push more into a pucker embouchure so you have more meat under the mouthpiece.
  • Only slightly added pressure is needed to move the notes.
  • If you are finding it more difficult for the top note to speak, try setting your middle note pitch a little higher.
  • Don’t forget to take in a full breath each time you shake in the upper register.
  • Always strive for a BIG FAT sound on both notes.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.