I'm a part of a marching band in mid-Michigan, where the weather varies widely from day to day and often hour to hour. The band I'm a part of is currently wrapping up our competition season over the next two weeks. Within our show, I'm a baritone soloist playing on a Yamaha instrument, with which I naturally play flat in the higher register (where most of the solo takes place). Obviously with temperatures in the 50s or lower, this is even more evident.

I'm looking for suggestions to help mitigate this issue. I've currently attempted the following:

  • Pushing in all tuning slides
  • Switching to a smaller mouthpiece
  • Slurring up (mixed results, helps intonation but harms my ability to play with a supported tone)

I've received comments about my intonation for most of this month, and some performances have been better than others. One option I have considered is switching to a trombone for the solo, but this will require some rehearsing and also has the problem that it'll just be sitting out for about two minutes at the very least in the cold.

2 Answers 2


I don't play brass, but I found this reddit thread with some suggestions that may be useful if you haven't tried them already:


The main opinion seems to be just keeping your mouthpiece/instrument as warm as possible with your own breath and body heat, blowing through it whenever possible.

There's also a suggestion for using a plastic mouthpiece for the colder weather.

Here's another thread with similar advice: https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?129452-Playing-in-the-COLD!!&s=8f9fe74886417e272cf7b73edbfd015f)


I do play brass, and I marched both in high school and college, and as a professional have still had to perform occasionally in cold weather (although not as bad as an 8 AM warm-up for a Bowl game). My advice echos the post by user jasnoj. Get a plastic mouthpiece (there are some really good ones) and keep your horn warm. There's no other way around it. The silver lining is that everyone else's horns are equally as cold, so the ensemble will be roughly sharp/flat together. For the sake of devil's advocate (for lack of a better term) I'll add that your intonation may be adversely affected by playing too loudly in efforts to make your solo audible. Don't overplay. I'm sure you're not doing that, though.

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