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936282 Posts in 61370 Topics- by 14852 Members - Latest Member: Auto5man
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1  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!
2  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...

3  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

4  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.

5  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.
6  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.
7  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!

8  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...
9  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
10  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.
11  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / Re: VMA Trusteeship - AFM may impose crippling fines and expulsion on members! on: Jun 11, 2014, 07:13AM
Update: The former VMA board members have been granted an injunction by the BC Supreme Court, preventing the AFM from imposing fines/expulsion until 30 days after the pivotal Supreme Court appeal (pending) is given a verdict. A small, temporary victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Between what's happening in BC and the possible disaffiliation in Quebec, the AFM's days in Canada could be numbered. The AFM's recent actions have certainly generated a TON of ill will and bad press in Canada and abroad. Interesting times ahead...

12  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: Heaviest trombone counterweight/ being able to put two counterweights on? on: Jun 07, 2014, 10:22PM

Alternatively, you can put one weight on the tuning slide brace and one on the bell brace near the tuning slide receiver.

This is what I did with my Conn 78H. I have a custom slide that is heavier than a stock 78H slide. Added a second weight on the bell brace, and now it balances much better.
13  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Playing Flat on: Jun 07, 2014, 06:50PM
Downward bends are easier than upward bends for most people, for obvious reasons. You can take that same exercise and apply it to upward bends if you like - same idea: deviate intentionally from the pitch center, then let your body find it again in a relaxed, natural way. Might help, YMMV.

There are so many possible causes for your problem, you should really see a qualified, experienced teacher in person. Best way to pinpoint it - fixing it on the forum is guesswork at best.

14  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Playing Flat on: Jun 07, 2014, 02:49PM
I know it seems counterintuitive, but try this exercise:

Play a middle F at a comfortable mezzo dynamic. While sustaining the note, very slowly bend the pitch down one semitone with your chops (lipping it down). Notice that it takes a conscious EFFORT to play significantly below the center of the pitch. Now, slowly allow (don't force) the pitch to come back up until you feel it lock in to a center - the sound will be resonant, open, and complex, and the blow should feel free and easy.

What you're doing here is finding where the natural pitch center of the horn IS by first finding where it ISN'T. You'll eventually find that playing in the center of the pitch is easier and more natural than playing outside it.

I used to have a problem with a very flat upper register and sharp lower register, until I fine-tuned my embouchure placement/motion. A lesson with someone like Doug Elliott, Dave Wilken, Sam Burtis can go a long way towards helping that.
15  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Playing Flat on: Jun 06, 2014, 02:29PM
BTW, I find that most horns play in tune for me with the tuning slide pushed all the way in (I play extended positions). But it sounds like you're all the way in and still playing flat, please correct me if I'm wrong.
16  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Playing Flat on: Jun 06, 2014, 02:27PM
Sounds like you hear the problem very clearly. That's the first and hardest step towards overcoming this issue. Many people play out of tune and simply don't notice it, or choose to ignore it.

Do you firm your embouchure (especially below corner, with flat chin) before setting the mouthpiece on your lips? Or do your place the mouthpiece on flabby, loose lips? If it's the latter, playing flat with a dull airy sound can often be the result.

Do you maintain firm chops while inhaling through the mouth corners? Or are you breathing through the middle of your lips? If the latter, you may be spreading out your chops while inhaling, unconsciously pulling your lips out of the mouthpiece. That can cause pitch problems in either direction.

Other things like improper tongue placement (vowel shapes), opening the teeth too much, an overly dark/muffled sound concept, and poor air support mechanics can result in a 'flat' approach. I'd have to see you play to help pinpoint it. Try a few of these ideas, and see if it helps.
17  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Et tu, euphonium? Double buzz issue on: Jun 05, 2014, 01:52PM
Glad it helped!

18  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Et tu, euphonium? Double buzz issue on: Jun 05, 2014, 12:21AM
My take, YMMV...

Very often, double buzzes can resolve themselves naturally... it could just be a matter of getting used to the blow/resistance of the euphonium. Sounds like you're being very conscious of transferring your trombone mechanics to the euph, which is great. Try thinking of a warmer, slower, wider airstream... works for some. Euphonium is substantially less direct than trombone, and playing less aggressively can help. Are you playing particularly loudly? If so, dial it back a notch or three. 20 minutes of extremely soft mid register playing can do wonders for focusing and relaxing the chops.

Bass bone mouthpieces can work well on euphonium, but not always. Try something smaller, or just different, and see if that helps.

I hesitate to recommend anything beyond this, without seeing/hearing what you're doing. Good luck, we all have 'Those Days'...

19  Creation and Performance / The Business of Music / VMA Trusteeship - AFM may impose crippling fines and expulsion on members! on: Jun 03, 2014, 05:23PM

This has been an ongoing issue for our AFM local for nearly a year. These latest penalties are the worst in a series of strongarm tactics by the AFM head office. If you'd like to help, please spread the word to colleagues via email, twitter, facebook, etc. If you're an AFM member, please contact your local officers let them know what your think. If this can happen in Vancouver, it can happen anywhere.

20  Town Hall / Notices from TTF Members / Re: Brisbane Big Band Festival on: May 24, 2014, 07:54PM
Nice to know that jazz is alive and well down under. My wife's of Aussie extraction, and this adds some more incentive for us to get down there. She has loads of relatives in Queensland + Northern Territory. I was in Australia 15 years ago, and Brisbane was definitely the highlight of the trip - such a beautiful city!

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