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944823 Posts in 62327 Topics- by 15054 Members - Latest Member: aglenntuba
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1  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!
2  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.

3  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.
4  Teaching & Learning / Schools, Colleges and Conservatories / Re: Best Schools to Study Trombone and Music Education on: Aug 19, 2014, 07:37PM
The best school?

5  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!
6  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.
7  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.
8  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.
9  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.

10  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.
11  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!
12  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...

13  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

14  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Technology / Re: Advices on clip mic. Wireless? on: Jul 11, 2014, 11:17AM
I've been using a Samson Airline system for the past several years. It does the job well enough, and I like the beltpack-free design. However, it not the nicest-sounding mic system in the world... needs some EQ to get it sounding decent. Also, because it's a single frequency unit, you may sometimes encounter unavoidable RF interference. That's happened to me 3 times: twice during outdoor shows, and one at a venue near a railway station. I always carry a Shure Beta 98 wired clip-on mic in my gig bag, in case of wireless failure. Also, if the transmitter is off but the receiver is on, it will throw out loud static - I use a freshly-charged battery for each gig, so the transmitter doesn't lose power halfway through a gig.

I was recently in a position where I needed to buy a second wireless unit (tuba + trombone on the same gig, both need to be mobile - Oktoberfest is coming). After looking around, I found a good deal on the new Shure GLXD14/WB98 system. It's digital, built like a tank, and the receiver actually has a built-in battery charger. I don't like bodypack transmitters, but Neotech now makes a pouch for those which will attach to a trombone (or other instrument). I'll post a review with pics once I get a chance to evaluate it on a few gigs... I should have time in late August.

15  Practice Break / Purely Politics / Re: Coulter: Any growing interest in soccer a sign of nation's moral decay on: Jun 28, 2014, 06:24PM
That's funny.

I think that baseball and football were loosely based on games brought over from England.  Hockey is Canadian.  Except for Basketball, I cannot think of a popular sport that is home grown.

If soccer didn't suck, it would probably be popular here too.

Basketball was invented by a Canadian, Dr. James Naismith, who was teaching PE at a Massachusetts YMCA. Homegrown perhaps, but Americans cannot even claim Basketball as a purely domestic creation.
16  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Tone on: Jun 19, 2014, 11:10AM
The OP's problem could be the result of any number of things. Your best bet is to find a good trombone teacher in your area who has a sound you admire, and go from there.
17  Town Hall / Notices from TTF Members / Re: Darcy James Argue's Secret Society in Canada on: Jun 18, 2014, 08:49AM
Hey Jacob!

I'll see you on Friday night - 2nd bone in the Hard Rubber Orchestra, which is sharing the bill with y'all that night. We'll be premiering a new composition by Darcy, and we're currently in rehearsals for it. Can't wait to hear the Secret Society. It's going to be a great show!

18  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: VMA Trusteeship - AFM may impose crippling fines and expulsion on members! on: Jun 12, 2014, 03:48PM
In related news, the GMMQ (Quebec AFM local) just voted in favour of disaffiliating with the AFM. It appears that discontent within the Canadian AFM is more widespread than just Vancouver...
19  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: VMA Trusteeship - AFM may impose crippling fines and expulsion on members! on: Jun 12, 2014, 01:48PM
I hope that this situation is resolved with as little pain for all concerned as is possible.

I think we can all agree with that.

Personally, I hope for the best... :D

But expect the worst. Evil
20  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: VMA Trusteeship - AFM may impose crippling fines and expulsion on members! on: Jun 11, 2014, 08:12PM
Thanks for your input, Jim! There are of course two sides to the issue of the VFO contract... and we'll see how it plays out in the BC Supreme Court. The membership in Vancouver is fairly divided on that issue as well... I'm of two minds about it, truthfully. Even when the trusteeship was initially imposed, our membership was less than irate. More shocked than anything else. And by and large, we got on with our business, resigned to letting this thing play out in the courts.

But then, the trusteeship continued... and continued... I believe we've gone through several different trustees in the past year, officers from different locals appointed to direct our local's operations from afar. While I don't doubt their good intentions, it's an inefficient way to do business at best. Office staff have resigned, citing stress. Contracts for some BC professional orchestras are up for renewal, but no action has been taken or progress made on that front. Members are resigning in droves, and morale is low... we have no honest representation, no voice to advocate for us. No sign of new elections on the horizon either... if this continues much longer, our local will be permanently crippled - not good for Vancouver musicians or the AFM!

The AFM made a giant tactical & PR blunder by attempting to impose crippling fines/expulsion on ten or more of our most respected members, each of them a pillar of our local musical community. This action was the firebrand that recently ignited our membership's overwhelming ire. Whether or not you agree with the VFO agreement, you must concede that going after your own membership like that is absolutely disgusting. $50000 and expulsion would absolutely ruin those musicians' lives... how can an organization that claims to advocate for musicians' rights even consider that kind of action? Over a disagreement that essentially amounts to a technicality? And I'm sorry to say, but yes - if they lose the Supreme Court appeal, those ten musicians will be tried in the AFM's own courtroom, and they will likely be subjected to the full extent of those penalties. After all this struggling, the AFM will be sure to make an example of them.

So in short, I'm personally ambivalent on the VFO agreement itself... but I'm irate at the disgusting and vicious treatment that my colleagues, mentors, and friends have received from the AFM.
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