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923036 Posts in 60396 Topics- by 14488 Members - Latest Member: speakertx
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1  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Super slick legato without use of tongue ?? on: Apr 16, 2014, 05:40PM
Against the grain legato, this is an essential technique for all trombonists. Particularly useful in jazz music (turns, velocity, lyricism), but also in any type of music that needs a vocal, lyrical, legato approach to playing. Requires excellent slide/tongue coordination and a well-supported constant air column. With the grain without tongue... I've met a few people who advocate this, but they all sounded pretty glissey to me. No matter how perfect your slide technique may be, a trained ear will hear the gliss, even if it's really slight. Which may be desirable as an effect in some situations. Work on keeping your airstream as smooth as possible, tonguing very lightly with the grain and cultivating a smooth airflow and smooth, quick slide technique. Same thing against the grain, only without the tongue.

I'm sure your teacher knows very well what he's doing... if he's playing a clean with-the-grain legato without tongue, I'd like to hear/see it.
2  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Large bore for jazz/ska? on: Apr 16, 2014, 02:18PM
The OP sounds like he's in high school, correct me if I'm wrong. When you're young, you won't notice it as much, I know I didn't. But the heavier weight and heavier blow can start to wear and tear as you get older. I've known a few older pros who have developed repetitive strain injuries/tremors in their left hands/arms.... most of them play on large equipment. Not saying it'll happen to you, but be prepared to re-evaluate your equipment choices as you get older.
3  Practice Break / Polls / Re: What is your range?! on: Apr 15, 2014, 02:41PM
It's interesting how different people will define useable range, as well. For instance, a few years ago Sam Burtis & his methods helped me to discover a setting that allows me to play from around to  8va relatively effortlessly. Gives me an extra perfect 4th up high to work with, but it's not yet seamlessly connected to my other setting / standard registers (working on it!). I've even used that extreme register to decent effect in some jazz solos lately. But I won't really consider that to be part of my working range until it's absolutely seamless.

Likewise, things get murkier for those who double. I have the same range of pitches available to me on bass trombone or tuba as I do on small bore tenor. But change axes/mouthpieces, and certain registers will be simpler to access... others more complicated. It's a lot easier & simpler to play seamlessly down to pedal F with a big sound on a bass trombone with a 1G mouthpiece. On a small tenor with an 11C mouthpiece? Definitely possible, but not as easy/simple as on the bass.

At a certain point, maybe it's more accurate to speak of 'ranges' than a single range.
4  Practice Break / Polls / Re: What is your range?! on: Apr 12, 2014, 05:44PM
I'd rather listen to someone make beautiful music over a 2-octave range than listen to someone who just plays notes over a 5-octave range. Many people have made long and distinguished careers in music without mastering extreme registers. JJ Johnson did most of his playing in the middle of the horn, between low Bb and high D (forays above and below). Miles Davis never really pushed the extremes. My father is finishing up a 40-year career as an orchestral 2nd horn player, and his high/low chops are just enough to get the job done... no more, no less.

Having said that, some people I've heard who make great music in extreme registers: Sam Burtis, Joe Alessi, Doug Elliott, Dave Taylor, Clark Terry, Bart Van Lier, Al Kay, Jiggs Whigham, Slide Hampton, Dick Nash and several others. But I'm not listening to these people play because of their extreme ranges, I'm listening to them because they have something beautiful and interesting to say through their music.

I've always been a natural mid-range player, and try to make my bread more on sound, intonation, phrasing, ears, etc. than on extreme range. It's a question of priorities. But I do work hard on having a solid pedal F to high F  available to me every day, even if I don't end up needing them that much on most gigs. And I'm always practicing, looking to access extreme ranges in easier, simpler ways. I think that a lot of really successful players just develop/maintain the range they need in order to gig successfully in their chosen idiom(s). And many stop right there, and get along with the business of making music, which is perfectly fine. Some of us keep pushing, either in an obsession with range for its own sake, or in a quest for never-ending self improvement in order to better serve the music. I personally subscribe to the latter.

5  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Sight Reading on: Apr 03, 2014, 11:38PM
we don't talk of music being a language because it is aesthetically pleasing to do so, we talk of it as a language because it is a language.  It really should be taught that way.

NAILED IT, Zac. Music isn't just simply math... it's a living language that is based on mathematical principles. Meant to be heard, spoken, and lived in the moment.
6  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Sight Reading on: Apr 03, 2014, 05:17PM
Hi. I think of sight reading as another form of mathematics. My best sight reading students are also the best maths students at school and are generally in the top 5% of the state. Max.

I can see this, for sure. But for me, sight reading is more verbal, linguistic - like reading a book. Math is also a language, I guess, but I was always terrible at it. But very good in English, French, German, Japanese, and sight reading music. Everyone is different.
7  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: Sight Reading on: Apr 03, 2014, 04:32PM
If you really want to go for hardcore sightreading practice, try this:

1. Pick up a book of etudes or songs that is within your technical ability. Ideally one that covers all keys, all meters, and maybe several clefs. I like Rochut and Blahzevich Clef Sequences for this. But you could use any set of etudes you prefer.
2. Open the book to a random page.
3. Sight read the etude on that page from beginning to end. DO NOT stop to fix any mistakes, but DO focus on rhythm, airflow, and a steady tempo (Metronome if necessary). This simulates the experience of sightreading in real-time in an ensemble.
4. The end-game is that you should eventually be able to just play the rhythm and feel like you're 'dropping the notes into the time'.

The first time you do this, I guarantee you'll have the urge to stop to rest/reset or fix a missed note. RESIST THE URGE. If you sound bad at first, that's GOOD - it shows you exactly where you need to improve your reading. You'll also start to notice places where your slide/tongue/air/buzz coordination is less than ideal. Note those passage, and come back to them later for detailed practice (fragmentation, etc.)

Sounds like the OP has a great attitude and work ethic. If you're ever in the Vancouver area, gimme a shout - I'd be happy to give you a lesson (if in financial need, I can be flexible).

8  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: .508-.525 mouthpiece help on: Apr 03, 2014, 01:39PM
Here's another vote for the Nils Langren. I use a wedge-modified NL as my primary jazz/commercial mouthpiece on a .500/.525 custom horn. Really versatile setup that work on everything from lead to light orchestral to Latin to R&B. Nils' mouthpiece is nicely balanced... like a 6.75C but with more warmth. Or like a 6.5AL with more zip.
9  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: .508-.525 mouthpiece help on: Apr 03, 2014, 01:31PM
Here's another vote for the Nils Langren. I use a wedge-modified NL as my primary jazz/commercial mouthpiece on a .500/.525 custom horn. Really versatile setup that work on everything from lead to light orchestral to Latin to R&B. Nils' mouthpiece is a overall great balance... like a 6.75C but with more warmth.
10  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Re: Teaching Flutter Tonguing on: Apr 02, 2014, 12:00PM
Seems to me that you could look beyond just trombone pedagogy for this... most people who can roll their 'r' s will be able to do a flutter tongue pretty much instantly. For help with people who can't roll rs, you might try consulting a speech therapy text... or meet with a speech/language pathologist, who would have some insight.

Flutter tonguing in extreme registers can be challenging for some, particularly if they are relying on the tongue to support the bottom lip (I used to have this bad habit). Once a good flutter is achieved, try having your students play all their long tones, lip slurs, even etudes growled/fluttered (5-10 mins, this can be extremely tiring). That's a good way to learn to use the technique in a real musical context.

11  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: BAC Trombones on: Mar 31, 2014, 01:32PM
Mike Corrigan @ BAC trombones is a great trombone builder, focusing on custom horns for discerning professionals. I think he may also have designed a student/intermediate line of horns... not sure.

Mike built me a custom replacement slide for my Conn 32H. It's a work of art, with plenty of unique features you won't find from most other makers: wide tapered crook, curved left hand grip, ultra-thin right hand grip, press-fit leadpipes, etc. it plays great, and it's been my workhorse for years now.

If you send some work to Mike, be prepared for a reasonable wait. He's a busy guy with a small staff, so don't expect a quick turnaround. IMHO, it's well worth the wait.

I expect bbocaner will now chine in with his usual diatribe on the evils of BAC / Mike Corrigan. Take his words and mine with a grain of salt.
12  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: Yamaha silent brass (new) on: Mar 30, 2014, 05:22PM
For sheer portability and function, my money is on the Best Brass E-Brass mute. Compact, dedicated electronics (reverb, lines in/out, tuner, metronome built in). Not 100% in tune, especially at the extremes, but no mute is. Nifty little gadget, great for practice on the road.
13  Classified Advertisements / Classified Advertisements / WTB: Compensating EEb Tuba on: Mar 29, 2014, 01:06AM
Looking for a compensating EEb tuba in good playing condition... cosmetics unimportant, but must be functional or repairable. Boosey & Hawkes, Besson, Chinese copies are all interesting. Must be willing to ship economically to Vancouver, Canada. I also have tour dates coming up in Utah, Washington state, and Oregon and could make a side trip to pick up a horn in person.


14  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Register Help on: Mar 28, 2014, 04:18AM
General stuff that tends to work for most people (YMMV):

Make sure you are relaxed, comfortable, and breathing freely in all registers.

Smooth, even lip slurs are the best indicator of real range and flexibility. Practice them a lot!

Your embouchure corners should be firm, but the chops should be relaxed (just barely touching) in the center.

Think about faster air for higher notes, slower air for lower notes.

Smaller aperture for high notes, larger for low notes.

Playing quietly also needs a small aperture, soft practice can help high range. Vice versa for low notes/loud playing.

Low notes need a strong, stable embouchure too! Don't collapse your corners for low notes - relax in the middle, stay firm in the corners. Practice false tones one position lower than their upper equivalents (low Eb in 4, D in 5, Db in 6, C, in 7 - below bass clef without a trigger)

Strive for minimal embouchure motion when changing registers... but try to understand which motions are necessary. This is different for everyone, and it really helps to have a mentor or teacher who understands all different kinds of chops!

Use only as much mouthpiece pressure as is truly necessary.

Tongue levels/syllables: think AH, OH, or UH for low notes, EE for high notes (SSSSS for extreme upper register). Notice how your tongue arches more up high, flattens and lowers down low.

Use glisses (upward and downward) to build connection between ranges.

Rest frequently (5-10 mins on, 5-10 mins off) for strength practice, rest less frequently for endurance practice.

*******Play MUSIC in all registers, not just notes. Play simple songs & etudes, and transpose them higher/lower by half steps until you can go no further. Don't neglect clean technique (slide, tongue, air support) in any register.

Disclaimer: I do not guarantee that all of the above will work for every individual. Try out these concepts, and only use what works for you.
15  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Re: college jazz grads who don't know tunes on: Mar 23, 2014, 08:17PM
I have another question related to this topic:

How many jazz college grads bother to learn the LYRICS to standards which have them (as well as the melodic/harmonic/rhythmic content)? And yes, I'm also referring to instrumentalists, not just singers. It might seem superfluous to some, but knowing the lyrics, character, and poetry of a tune can really help you to tap into some genuine emotion. I hear a lot otherwise very good players who play heads carelessly and without informed phrasing, and then proceed to play wonderfully built solos over the form. Listen to the Greats - they all treat the heads with respect and sometimes originality, not just as something you have to play before you get to the blowing. That's why my approach to playing wedding gigs & cocktail casuals is to keep the solos short and to the point, with clean intros and endings and beautifully interpreted heads - people respond to a hook/melody, something that connects with them on an emotional level.

My path towards learning jazz vocabulary has been a bit different than many who post here. I started playing trombone at age 17, and my initial university studies were very much focused on orchestral/chamber/solo music. I'm really thankful for that, as those years of classical study really helped build up solid technical and musical fundamentals that I was sorely lacking due to my late start on the instrument. I played in the big bands during my undergrad, and was introduced to jazz theory & history by some very wonderful profs and fellow students, but learning tunes & improvising was definitely on the periphery. The main focus was learning to play the horn as well as possible in a variety of styles.

Strangely, when I left school and started freelancing, I had a lot more success and enjoyment pursuing gigs in commercial/jazz idioms than in the classical/orchestral scene. The local classical scene is very good but small, and a lot of the call lists are very deep - 20 yrs deep sometimes. Just more opportunity in other idioms around here, I suppose. Despite being behind the ball in terms of jazz/improv, I had enough sound/range/style/technique/ears/awareness, ensemble skills, and congeniality to get called back for a wide variety of gigs.

Anyway, I was convincing enough to start getting called for the odd jazz quartet casual - and that's when I really started shedding/memorizing tunes, just to keep up. The technical side of jazz trombone was pretty natural because I already had good flexibility, range, and slide technique. The main challenge was understanding & internalizing the harmonic vocabulary through studying/transcribing the masters, then working on a tune per week transposed to 12 keys. So now I probably have 100-150 of the most useful tunes ready to go. Not nearly as many as most of my jazz-school-graduate colleagues, but I'm working on it. When I see changes at a gig, I feel confident and ready to tackle them. And I feel I've begun to find a unique voice as a jazz improviser & composer, which is encouraging.

Above all, I feel fortunate to be getting calls in a wide variety of idioms (jazz, classical, pop, New Music / avant-garde, Latin, funk, Oktoberfest, Punjabi, etc.), and to have amazing & talented colleagues who inspire me every day.

Good luck in all of your respective journeys!

16  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: can our lips be categorised? on: Feb 25, 2014, 09:20AM
Anybody can learn to play any brass instrument with any type of lips (barring severe malformations, injuries, etc.). You're limited only by your amount of work ethic, musicianship, and persistence.

Having said that, it seems possible that individuals might be more naturally inclined towards certain instruments (physically, emotionally, mentally). I had a thoroughly frustrating stint on French horn before finding that low brass is much more natural and fulfilling for me. I went from a 1.5 octave player to a 3.5 octave (gains in both directions) player OVERNIGHT upon switching. My physical makeup (BIG guy, soft HUGE fleshy lips, large square jaw) just seemed more naturally inclined towards the larger mouthpieces. Perhaps larger mouthpieces were more forgiving of my technical deficiencies at the time. Either way, what's more important is that trombone felt like my natural 'voice' right from the start - a deep, loving, musical connection. If I had felt that way about French horn, I would have found a way to make it work.

17  Practice Break / Chit-Chat / Re: Winter Olympics - Sochi, Russia on: Feb 24, 2014, 05:09PM
Two arctic countries in a row have hosted the winter Olympics.  And, for some reason unbeknownst to me, they both have picked the only areas in these countries that don't have winter as a site for the winter Olympics.  What's up with that?  Perhaps the Olympic committee should only assign the winter Olympics to places that actually have winter.  Perhaps Sochi would have had more winter like condintions if it had been held in January instead of February.  But, Vancouver should never have been selected as a winter Olympics host; those Canadians could have had it just about anywhere else in the country (except for Victoria), and they would have had winter conditions.  Why do these Olympic ****** want the skiers to compete on melting man-made snow, when they could have the real thing?

Let's get this straight... plenty of natural snow in Vancouver right now. Truth be told, the 2010 Olympics were unseasonably warm and dry due to El Nino. Typically, snow conditions in the mountains (where the 2010 Games outdoor events were held) are fine if not excellent in February. I can recall that only one venue (Cypress Mountain) was affected, and they ended up actually trucking in natural snow from another part of the mountain. No events were cancelled or compromised as far as I know. And IMHO, you couldn't ask for a more pleasant destination for spectators and athletes alike. Montreal/Toronto/Calgary/Winnipeg in mid-winter? Great cities and people all around, but I'll pass... after living on the west coast for 10 yrs, gotta say I'm a wimp about extreme cold... I'm sure many people feel the same.
18  Practice Break / Chit-Chat / Re: Winter Olympics - Sochi, Russia on: Feb 23, 2014, 07:07AM

I swear you guys are born with skates on, nothing else explains it.

Pretty much true. I grew up in Calgary, winter 9 or 10 months of the year. Not many lakes there, but we had our neighbourhood rink (flooded field). Our bus stop was right beside it - we'd skate before school, and usually play some shinney right after school. Everyone was on skates from age 2-3. Summer time, we'd play ball or roller hockey in the cul-de-sac. And I'm not even talking about prodigious or talented or motivated kids... we just did it, that was the culture.

Congrats to gold medallists, CANADA! A thoroughly dominant 3-0 performance vs Sweden.

19  Practice Break / Chit-Chat / Re: Winter Olympics - Sochi, Russia on: Feb 22, 2014, 03:18PM
No Lidstrom, the Swedish defence corps looks like this:

Alexander Edler    6'3"    215    04/21/86    Vancouver Canucks
Oliver Ekman-Larsson    6'2"    190    07/17/91    Phoenix Coyotes
Jonathan Ericsson    6'4"    221    03/02/84    Detroit Red Wings
Niklas Hjalmarsson    6'3"    207    06/06/87    Chicago Blackhawks
Erik Karlsson            6'0"    175    05/31/90    Ottawa Senators
Niklas Kronwall    6'0"    190    01/12/81    Detroit Red Wings
Johnny Oduya            6'0"    190    10/01/81    Chicago Blackhawks
Henrik Tallinder    6'4"    215    01/10/79    Buffalo Sabres

Impressive enough...
20  Practice Break / Chit-Chat / Re: Winter Olympics - Sochi, Russia on: Feb 22, 2014, 01:09PM
Well, maybe a bit of shame...

Hey guys, just trying to take the high road, rather than disparage an American team that was really great throughout the tournament, especially the forwards. They ran into and were defeated by absolutely AIRTIGHT defense and goaltending from Canada and then Finland. Honestly, I think both USA losses say more about how GREAT the Canadian and Finnish defenders were than about any sort of USA mediocrity. They played hard and competed throughout, and the CAN/USA game was probably the best hockey (both sides) of the tournament so far. They are right up there, top 4 in the world, and can compete with anyone.

If anyone should be thoroughly embarrassed, it's the Russian men's team...

Also very encouraged by smaller hockey nations like Latvia, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Slovenia, who seem to be vastly improved since the last Olympics. Great to see the game's global growth!

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