5

What steps should a person take to develop initial competence in sounding the shofar?

Are there online or other training materials available? Any tips specifically for a neophyte?

6

I don't know the best way to learn how to blow shofar but I can tell you how I learned.

Firstly, I was told that as a child that the main thing is to NOT BLOW into the shofar. That is, the shofar is not a baloon, and you do not want to blow into it directly. You want to shape your lips and allow the air to pass through them, but you do not want to blow directly. A good comparison instrument (that is easy to get hold of ) is a Kazoo. (I know nothing about other horns or wind instruments so can't compare)

After that initial lesson, it was just a matter of practice and reading up on the various halachot of blowing shofar.

  • From having blown the Shofar, myself for about 30 years, I disagree with your comparison. Humming into a kazoo is far easier than blowing into the shofar, and I don't think the kazoo would be sufficient practice. Blowing into a shofar requires precise lip placement and, for the most part, blowing using your diaphragm muscles rather than blowing from your throat / mouth. It requires an extra "push" and effort of air to get the sound and volume correctly. It is nowhere as easy as kazoo playing. – DanF Aug 21 '18 at 21:19
  • @DanF I find kazzoos harder than shofars. shrug – avi Aug 22 '18 at 8:05
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It takes a lot of practice to do it properly. You can find basic instructions all over the Web (try Google). A recently-published (and inexpensive) book by R. Avraham Reit entitled Teka Beshofar has many useful tips and much helpful information.

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I, too, learned like avi with an initial lesson and then on my own. I'd like to add some suggestions to his answer.

One important thing to know is that there are shofars that are easier than others to blow. I suggest you find someone who can lend, or recommend, an easy shofar to you. Then the next step is to learn a basic way to get to produce a solid sound (a sound that is not simply the "ffffffff" of when you blow into it). Afterwards you practice on your own.

I would also say that when you have a basic grasp of the fundamentals you can ask a Rabbi to help you refine your technique according to his tradition. Sephardic, Ashkenazi and Italian Jews have different traditions that prescribe how to blow the various sounds.

  • Re the last paragraph with refining the sounds - absolutely correct. Tekiah is the the easiest. Teru'ah takes a special talent and is usely done by closing the airflow using your tongue. That takes a good bit of practice. – DanF Aug 21 '18 at 21:21

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