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952945 Posts in 62840 Topics- by 15308 Members - Latest Member: TolgaAkman
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1  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Switching instruments on: Nov 16, 2014, 07:10PM
I'm... probably gonna print this out and put it in the front of my notebooks for music. :-P I'll definitely use this a lot in the time between now and probably when I put down the horns for good, because that was probably the best advice I've gotten from anyone regarding music, ever. (Please, feel free to share all of your musical wisdom with me, god knows I need it. :-P) I don't really think that the articulation in relation to time is my biggest problem, but when I listen to myself play I feel like I could definitely use work when it comes to that, even on trombone.

Glad to be of help. This forum is a great resource - continue to ask good questions and you'll get some very good answers.
2  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Switching instruments on: Nov 16, 2014, 06:25PM
I'll give credit for much of this post to Alex Iles and Sam Burtis - I'm using up a few of their ideas that have worked well for me and my students.

Playing any kind of brass instrument, you are essentially coordinating 4 basic elements, each with their own set of variables:

1) Air (quantity, speed, shape, direction)
2) Embouchure/buzz (lip tension, pivot, pucker, etc.)
3) Slide or valves
4) Tonguing/Articulation (Ta, Da, La, Doodle, whatever)

I think the OP is discussing a coordination problem involving #3 and #4. There are different ways of solving this... here's my .02:

If you are thinking about trying to coordinate your slide and your tongue, you might be missing the most important thing: to line up both of those elements with the TIME. Timing and coordination are inextricably linked in music (and other disciplines), and I feel strongly that the Caruso (and Burtis) approaches address this in the most comprehensive way.

Assuming that your air and embouchure are already working well enough, your first step should be to make sure your valve motion is timed in perfectly, independently of the tongue. To do this, practice slow slurred (no tongue) patterns (scales, arpeggios) with a metronome (or even better, great internal time). When you start, it doesn't matter so much WHAT scales/patterns you practice, it's more about HOW you practice them. Focus on the time, making sure that every valve motion lines up perfectly for a smooth legato (your airflow needs to be rock solid as well).

The second step is to practice your articulation independently of valve motion. Pick a comfortable note in your middle register, set the metronome (or internal time), and aim to play whole notes, then half notes, then quarters, triplet quarters, eighths, triplet eights, sixteenths, triplet sixteenths, etc., with consistent, even articulation (I recommend starting with Da/Ga, then repeating using Ta/Ka). Repeat the same process on every note in your range. Again, focus on the TIME. You are training your body to articulate perfectly in time, without necessarily having to think about it.

Once your valve technique and articulation are a bit more dialed in as a result of this isolated practice, you should be ready to combine them. Take the slurred scale/arpeggio patterns you've been practicing and add various articulations - start simple at first (all tongued, perhaps), then vary the articulations as you please. Again, focus on the TIME and you'll find that your coordination improves rapidly.

To sum up, placing emphasis on rock solid TIME establishes a great reference point with which the musician can strive to coordinate the various fundamentals of playing technique, rather than trying to juggle them in a haphazard kind of way. TIME is the thing that brings all the fundamentals together, and deserves to be addressed immediately whenever a coordination problem is encountered.
3  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: Rim size poll on: Nov 11, 2014, 07:25PM
I used to do everything except bass bone and tuba on a DE 102 rim, and that worked well enough. When I started playing Wedge mouthpieces, I noticed that changing rim sizes didn't bother me the same way anymore. Now, I'm pretty comfortable on everything 11C (alto) to Helleberg 7B (tuba) when I need to be. Just finished a long series of gigs doubling trombone (~6.75C), Eb tuba (Marc 107), and alphorn (~11C), and some bass guitar & vocals. Frequent switches and extreme ranges throughout. I made sure to warm up well and stay in shape on each horn, and it all worked out well. 3 years ago? These gigs would have torn me up, big time.

4  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: These Chinese on: Oct 19, 2014, 11:15PM
There are some surprisingly good horns coming out of China these days... tubas/euphoniums in particular. I've been gigging on a Mack Brass compensating euphonium for two years and change, and it's held up well. Nice sound, response, intonation and mechanics - everything I need from a doubling horn. IMHO, more horn for the money than the Yamaha 321 I was using before. Recently, I've been doing more tuba doubling, and picked up a Mack 410CC. So far, my impression is about the same - a very functional gigging horn! The biggest issue I notice on both horns is with the valve caps: very easy to cross-thread if you're not careful.

If tuba or euphonium was my main axe, I would shell out for a Yamaha 842 euph and/or a Miraphone 186 tuba... but as doubler, it makes economic sense to go with the 'basic pro' horns that Mack offers. That euphonium paid for itself in under a month!
5  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: Kanstul H8 leadpipe for 891Z on: Oct 07, 2014, 08:28PM
Honestly, specs can only tell you so much about how a leadpipe will interact with a given horn and mouthpiece and player... too many variables. Best bet is to try it out, and sell the pipe if it doesn't work for you. Although if you like your current setup, why change it?

I can tell you that the H8 and H6 are both, in my experience, beautifully balanced pipes. The H8 in my 3B slots very evenly in all registers, and feels both very centered and more open than the stock pipe. I tried a variety of Shires pipes in the 3B before settling on the H8.

The H6 is a great fit in my custom .500/.525 horn. Much more even and balanced in that horn than the 32H, Edwards, Callet, and BAC pipes I've compared it with.

6  Creation and Performance / The Healthy Trombonist / Re: Dead lip recovery on: Oct 05, 2014, 08:46PM
Playing music is a whole-body and whole-mind activity, even more so at high or demanding levels. Some things that can recharge the batteries (chops included):

Delicious, healthy food
Hot tub (my fave)
Deep breathing
Spending time with loved ones
A nice beer or glass of wine
Reading a good book
Watching a good movie
Evening promenade
Or whatever other low-intensity, simple, enjoyable activity you prefer!

7  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: VMA Trusteeship - AFM may impose crippling fines and expulsion on members! on: Oct 04, 2014, 11:52AM
Update, with some very postive news for our local:



From reinstated President David Brown:

As most of you know the BC Supreme Court decision of Sept. 11 ended the 14 month trusteeship of Local 145. It has been a complex dispute and I know that quite a few people are still unclear on the issues and the implications of the decision. There is a synopsis included later in this email which should help provide a better understanding of the issues. The short story is this: BC law overrides union and association bylaws. The elected board is back in office and their first order of business was to rehire Secretary David Owen whose position had been terminated by the AFM in the first week of the trusteeship in July 2013.
As you can imagine there is a great deal of work to be done in order to return the Local back to normal operations and to restore the democratic processes of the VMA. I'm sure there are a lot of questions so the October 19th meeting will provide an opportunity for questions and discussion. As well the current Board is in the final months of its three year term and the next election must be organized and conducted.  
The charges filed against the Board by Vice President (Canada) Alan Willaert have not been rescinded by the AFM at this time, although the charges are specifically based upon an AFM bylaw that was ruled by the BC Supreme Court to be invalid in BC. We also do not yet know whether the AFM plans to appeal the BC Supreme Court decision. Further information on the charges and any appeal should  be available at the general meeting.
Many of you have written to AFM representatives to register your anger and dismay with the attitude that the AFM has shown towards this local.   
One might ask in such a climate: Who would ever want to run for election to the VMA board?
The answer is that luckily we do have very capable members who want to see the VMA move forward and who believe strongly in the value that this association can have for Vancouver's professional musical community. I know from all the contact I have had with members this past year that there are a lot of great ideas and suggestions for ways to improve our services to our members. I am confident we will have a strong slate of candidates for you to choose from.
Although none of us on the 'front lines' would be anxious to relive the stress and uncertainty of the past year it has been an experience I will never forget, primarily for the great privilege and opportunity I have had to work with such a dedicated and committed Board. Our legal counsel Jeanne Meyers and Stephen Hutchison were there for us every inch of the way.  
Most of all I want to thank all those who buoyed us throughout this long, arduous process. Your steadfast support and encouragement was so sustaining and appreciated by us all.

Synopsis of Supreme Court Decision

This is a long and complex document so here are the key points expressed by Madam Justice Ross in her judgment:

There is a contractual relationship between the VMA Local 145 and its international parent the AFM. The BC Supreme Court is the appropriate body to interpret the bylaws and constitutions that define this relationship.
Many AFM bylaws suggest that a central purpose of the AFM and its locals (including the VMA Local 145) is bargaining to secure collective agreements covering the terms and conditions of member employment.  The AFM bylaws clearly contemplate that locals will be trade unions representing members. Trade unions are subject to comprehensive legislation in their respective jurisdictions.   
In order to exist as a trade union for the purposes of the BC Labour Relations Code, the VMA Local 145 must have authority to make key collective bargaining decisions. But Article 15 section 6(b) of the AFM Bylaws requires AFM approval before entering into any type of recording agreement. Because of this section, the BC Labour Relations Board declared the VMA Local 145 is no longer a trade union.   
AFM bylaw Article 15 section 6(b) therefore conflicts with a central purpose of the AFM bylaws - trade union activity. The only way to preserve that central purpose is to declare the section void and unenforceable as against the VMA Local 145 and its members. Article 22 (sections 2 and 3) of the AFM bylaws contemplates this declaration, as it suggests that in some jurisdictions particular bylaws may be made unenforceable in order to preserve the central AFM purpose of trade unionism.
As AFM Article 15 section 6(b) (the basis for imposing a trusteeship over the VMA Local 145) is unenforceable in BC, it follows that the trusteeship must be set aside.
The parties may make further submissions on setting aside actions of former trustees and to obtain injunctions restraining the AFM from interfering with VMA/VFO relations.
8  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: Making it as a professional classical trombonist. on: Sep 15, 2014, 11:51AM
There was a time when I just wanted to be a professional orchestral trombonist... somewhere along the way, I broadened that idea to 'versatile professional musician', and several things happened: 1) my trombone playing improved drastically, 2) my overall musicianship improved the same way, 3) more and better gigs of very diverse types came my way, and 4) more non-playing work also came my way (arranging, teaching, etc.)

Right now, I make a respectable living in an expensive city entirely through music; playing it, writing it, teaching it, and living it 24/7. I have a wonderful wife (also a musician) and many great, talented friends and colleagues. Couldn't be happier!

If you define personal success as simply 'winning an orchestra job', there is a very good chance you'll be disappointed; you are putting your happiness in an audition committee's hands. If you define personal success more broadly, as in 'over time, completely maximising my potential as a trombonist/musician/artist', your chances of success increase dramatically - because it all comes down to being true to yourself. And you stand just as good a chance of winning that orchestra job if you approach life the second way!
9  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: 5G...B? on: Aug 20, 2014, 11:46AM
May I ask how you would describe your physical make up? ie lip thickness and size

Very large, and very thick. I am what Doug E calls a Very High Placement type, placement about 85/15 top/bottom, slightly right of center. From what I understand, my type can typically prefer larger diameters and narrow rim profiles. I double a lot, mouthpieces sizes from 11C to Helleberg 7B (tuba), and prefer Wedge rims on everything.

10  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: 5G...B? on: Aug 20, 2014, 04:17AM
I've always been most comfortable on narrow, round rim
profiles... The 5GB is a great mouthpiece, if your physical type works with narrow rims. I used a 5GB for a while, and found it comfortable and very flexible. I also know many fine players whose physical types work best with wide, flat rims (like Wick 5BL).

My favourite rim profile is the Wedge by Harrison Mouthpieces. To me, it combines the endurance advantage of a wide rim with the flexibility of a narrow rim.
11  Teaching & Learning / Schools, Colleges and Conservatories / Re: Best Schools to Study Trombone and Music Education on: Aug 19, 2014, 07:37PM
The best school?

12  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Technology / Re: Advices on clip mic. Wireless? on: Aug 17, 2014, 01:11AM
I've been able to put the new Shure GLXD14/WB98H system through its paces, and the impression is overwhelmingly favourable. First of all, it sounds GREAT! Most clip-on mics, especially wireless ones, sound thin and unnatural to me, especially the lower frequencies. My show tonight involved lots of register extremes, pedal G to high F... this mic handles the whole range very well, with digital clarity. A much more complex, overtone-rich sound than the Samson. The gain control is really useful - my colleagues PGX system tends to put out a quiet signal, but with a +20db pad the GLX puts out a great signal (adjustable -40db to +40db). The battery life is great - advertised at 16 hours, with a real-time battery clock (down to the minute) built into the receiver. The receiver doubles as a battery charger (proprietary Shure type), so you can charge a spare battery while you gig, and have it close at hand - VERY useful. The metal transmitter beltpack is rock solid, but a bit on the heavy side. Still, I mounted it on my horn without issue (Neotech wireless pouch, great little device). Operation is seamlessly user-friendly.

I recommend this system to any professional player who needs durability, reliability, and top-notch sound quality!
13  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: taking two trombones to a gig on: Aug 14, 2014, 04:31PM
In my Oktoberfest band, I double (quintuple) trombone, Eb tuba, bass guitar, Swiss Alphorn, and backing vocals. We tour all over the Pacific Northwest in a 15' cube van. We also have a custom-made 16' monster accordion, which our front man plays beautifully. Plus a guitarist and drummer.

Most gear I've ever used on any gig, period. We're flying to Texas for a Fest in November, so we're working on a streamlined setup.

At a certain point, just hauling the gear and setting up takes more energy than the gig itself! Worth it, though.
14  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Nestico 'A Train' bass tbn part on: Aug 08, 2014, 05:07PM
To work on this, I would fragment it at tempo, adding one note at a time until it feels comfortable & automatic. Many good position suggestions here already.

I don't really doodle much in that register... a quick legato single D should be fine.
15  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: The most recommended trombone techs on: Aug 08, 2014, 04:31PM
Dave Gsponer at Matterhorn Music in Surrey, BC. Beautiful dent work, and his slide repairs/tune-ups are second to none. He's done excellent custom work for me too. For those in the know, he's the guy that bought all of Joe DeBruycker's old tooling.
16  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: Would you trust a local music store for repairs? on: Aug 08, 2014, 04:24PM
There's only one tech around here that I trust with my horns, mostly because the dude is an ARTIST with brass repairs and a good friend. I'm sure there are some other excellent techs around, but I've been taking my stuff to Dave G for so many years that I wouldn't dream of going elsewhere. His shop is about a 90 min train/bus ride from my place, but it's worth it for such high-quality work.

Keep in mind, most music stores make their big bucks from guitar/drums/live sound/recording gear - very few specialize in brass/winds enough to hire a world-class tech in that area.

17  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: best trombone stand? on: Aug 04, 2014, 11:49PM
For me, the best combo of strength and portability is the Aida stand. But it's quite expensive, made in Japan... can be hard to find. I use it for anything lighter than a bass trombone. For the heavy horns, the K&M Heavy Duty is great.
18  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Breathing, when And How Often? on: Jul 16, 2014, 12:01PM
Catch breaths...even sniff btreaths (the Sousa-style/rhythm section tuba player's friend, bet on it) are great. But so is proper resistance in that range. Sure, great bass trombonists take a lot of breaths. They do it in good time and they do it efficiently. But even before that, their embouchure/equipment setup has to be very efficient and very strong as well. No floppy, non-resisting embouchure for them.

For example, take a look at a closeup of the great bass trombonist Doug Yeo.

Now Doug is not a great big man...leanly built, maybe 150 lbs, say 5'8" or so...but he has what look like bicep muscles on his chin and other largish muscles at his corners. He creates resistance as he needs it with that musculature. This is not so plainly seen in other, fleshier bass trombonist faces, but I am here to tell you that if the musculature that holds the low range embouchure is not both strong and very endurance-friendly, the lack of resistance will deplete the air of the biggest, strongest, best conditioned player in no time. I am a middling-good bass trombone doubler, myself, and when Io have not been concentrating on that range or that instrument the quickest way that I can get to a point where I can play passably long phrases at passably loud volumes is to play good, strong long tones down there until the musculature gives up. Like weight training. Then another set, then another until the embouchure is no longer functioning for any worthwhile length of time.

The next day?


3 or 4 days?

I'm getting there.

Like Doug or other great bass trombonists?

Not in this lifetime.

But the process is the same.

Bet on it.

It's very common for young trombonists to think that low notes don't take as much strength as do higher ones.

They're wrong.

Without a certain amount of balanced strength you can certainly play the lower notes whereas higher notes just don't come out if you cannot hold the corners. But make music down there? Long phrases with a great sound? You need more musculature. Bigger musculature in different places.

Bet on that as well.



This... Gospel Truth. I used to be a poor bass trombone doubler until I adopted this approach... now, I can always get the job done well when I need to. Long tones and slow slurs down through the money range, keeping the musculature firm and stable (minimal motion). It works!
19  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Coulter: Any growing interest in soccer a sign of nation's moral decay on: Jul 16, 2014, 02:24AM

Heh ...  Way cool
In all seriousness though, is that really the gist of the popular sentiment or are you being facetious rather than hyperbolic? If it is, I wonder if it's a fairly new thing.
From the '70s I recall during a family trip to BC when I was a kid (Vancouver/Butchart Gardens), I was buying some kind of souvenir and asked the clerk if they took American money. She looked slightly miffed (not rude or anything--subtle), and I interpreted that as irritation with the presumption that "American" = US citizen/Yankee. That's the way I read her body language. It was kind an epiphany for me, and I've been keen to body language ever since. Another result is that since then I've always been conscientious regarding the fact that Canada is part of the North America. If you were to survey my use of the relevant terms you'd see it's a pretty clear and consistent pattern in my posts.
At any rate, if I was mistaken (I think I was 8 or 10 or so, so it doesn't seem terribly unlikely) I'll consider modifying that behavior (the conscientious use of US rather than America in relevant situations, certainly not my attention to body language--far too useful).

Hmmmm... maybe a bit hyperbolic, but the underlying sentiment is there. In my circles, the term 'American' almost universally refers to US citizens. If I see a US dime in my wallet, my go-to term is 'American coin'. Here's what I think: while Canadians and Americans enjoy a friendly economical/political/cultural relationship, certain recent global conflicts have cast the US in a rather negative light. Canada's global image is relatively benign, and we're well-liked the world over. Last time I traveled in Europe, I was often taken for an American... and treated very rudely as a result. When the offending parties realized I was Canadian, an apology and an explanation was quick to follow: right or wrong, Americans are not well-liked in many parts of the world. Being 'not-American' opens certain doors... In Prague, I met an American who was staying in the same hotel as me, identical rooms, right across the hall. Turns out, he was paying nearly 3 times as much as me for the same room... I got the 'Canadian discount', while he got the 'American' surcharge.

The other factor is that Canada is being increasingly influenced economically/politically/socially by the US. Much of our media comes from the US, and our economies are inextricably bound. It's at the point where our outward differences are very slight, but our Canadian core is still proudly present. A suggestion that we're also 'Americans' can be interpreted as a negation of our national identity.

Hope this helps explain...

20  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Coulter: Any growing interest in soccer a sign of nation's moral decay on: Jul 15, 2014, 06:56PM
Just a friendly word of advice: We Canadians are generally very hospitable and polite people (almost to a fault). But if you were to come up here and start referring to us as 'Americans', you might end up seeing a different side of us... to call us 'Americans' is perceived as a mortal insult, an unpardonable offense. I know and like many Americans and have family from there, but I don't want to be lumped in with them. Canadians are very diverse and multicultural, so our identity is a mixed bag... but the one uniting factor we're all most proud of and insistent upon: we're NOT Americans!  Evil

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