Now for the fun part (he says ironically). The first thing I want to say is yes, I understand that no-one likes long tones. I hate them, you hate them, everybody hates them. But here’s the thing: you need them, I need them, everybody needs them.
Long tones build strength and stamina, which are critical for brass players, and they also give you a daily opportunity to work on your tone. Don’t skip them, though you don’t have to spend hours on them. Simply playing a couple scales in whole notes will do the trick if you don’t have much time. If you do have time, however, try this:
Take a nice, full breath, and play a concert F at a comfortable volume. Hold it until you run out of air. (When you do this, the last couple seconds won’t sound very good, but you’ll be exercising the blowing muscles, so you’re working on two concepts for the price of one.) Then rest as long as it took to play that note. Then, do the same thing on an E, then an F#, then an E-flat, then a G, and so on, continuing on higher and lower notes until you start to get a little fatigued. Then rest a few minutes before moving to the next exercise. You’ll be surprised how quickly you get stronger, and those “high” notes that were hard before don’t seem so hard now!
It’s important not to push too hard on long tones and wear yourself out. Make sure you’re still comfortable with the notes you’re playing, and only play as high as you can with your best sound. If you start sounding bad, that’s it for today. Maybe you’ll get that note tomorrow! :)
After Long Tones (however you do them), rest a few minutes then move on to: