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923190 Posts in 60415 Topics- by 14490 Members - Latest Member: CaneBone
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1  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Can't start notes without hitch on: Today at 05:23 AM
A little word about free advice.
Years ago, I had a colleague who obviously had this hesitant attack problem. I mentioned it to him and said I could probably help him. He kind of hemmed and hawed and avoided the issue so I let it be.
A few weeks later I saw Jiggs Whigham who knew this guy and asked how he was doing. I told him that he had this problem and I tried to help him but he wouldn't let me. Jiggs said, you should have asked him for 50 bucks for the advice, he would have believed you then.
I think Jiggs had a point.
2  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Can't start notes without hitch on: Yesterday at 10:29 AM
Maybe it would be interesting if I told more about my experience with this problem.

I had this problem, which I would call a stuttering attack, really badly in the first 2 years or so when I started to study trombone.
The most frequent suggestion by my teachers (and I had some good ones, Steve Zellmer, Ron Ricketts and Henry Charles Smith) was to play with a metronome.
This didn't really help because I could play with a metronome, a conductor or anything else where the beat was a given
and out side my body. The problem was when I had to start by myself. I usually got around this by starting pieces with no tongue, but this really destroyed my confidence at this early point in my career. I could say 1-2-3-PLAY but at PLAY, I would abandon ship and hesitate making a T-T-T-T stuttering attack.

The thing that finally helped me was Swallow's exercise. It helped set up a beat in my body and, after enough repetition, became natural enough so that I could trust myself to go 1-2-BREATH-PLAY.

I've been playing professionally for over 35 years and I can honestly say that this has never since been a problem for me, except for one point early on when I was working under a conductor who hesitated his downbeat. I just did the exercise again and it was fine.

The Swallow exercise is very simple, of course, and can have many variations but the jist of it is to set up a pulse in your body that you trust, whether it be foot tapping or mental. If you doubt it, it won't work. It has a lot to do with confidence. A metronome doesn't work in this case, because you can trust the metronome but not yourself.

For me, this is the single most important aspect of brass playing, or even wind playing, setting up a tempo (before you play) and going 1-2-BREATH-PLAY, without fear and hesitation, totally free, with confidence. If you can't do this, you are lost.

I've encountered a surprising number of professionals who have developed this problem and were hesitant to talk about or even admit it.
Those who have talked to me about it were very thankful afterwards. But, it's very obvious to any one who has had the problem, like me, and especially regrettable because it is quite easy to fix.

There is some great advice here, especially from Sam and Doug, all for free. The only way to solve a problem like this is to pick one and practice it, every day. You can only solve problems through continual, correct practice.

Good luck

3  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Can't start notes without hitch on: Apr 16, 2014, 03:23PM
John Swallow gave me this exercise when I had this problem years ago;

3/4 bar, breath in on 3, attack on 1, breath out on 2, breath in on 3 act.
Start on middle Bb, repeat 4 times, and go down chromatically, for example.

It's so easy, it's hard to take seriously, but it worked for me and every other player I've passed it on to over the years.

Essentially, it's just replacing your bad habits with a good habit by repeatedly practicing the breath-attack without hesitation.

Do it every day and the problem should be gone in 1-2 weeks, or as Swallow said, when I said the problem was gone, "its never gone, but you know how to fix it now"

4  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: What's on your music stand currently? on: Mar 10, 2014, 01:15PM
Richard Barret - EARTH (on two stands actually)
and Klay/MacDonald Daily Excersices
5  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: Alto Mutes/Saglietti on: Jan 25, 2014, 02:07PM
The Jo-Ral flugelhorn wawa mute does not fit in an alto trombone. Just use a tenor wawa, it kind of fits.
The Denis Wick flugelhorn/alto straight fits fine, but a tenor straight may sound better.
A Wick cup is good because you can slide the cup in.

Any tenor mute will work in an alto, it will just stick out farther.

I wish someone would make a good wawa for alto!
6  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: German Trombones in American Orchestras on: Jan 24, 2014, 06:12AM
Wagner's orchestra-- as I recall it was 55 to 60 players? Not the 120+. I might be incorrect. At any rate-- its a pit orchestra-- in a pit, and not designed for 16 first fiddles and 16 seconds etc. etc.
Correct me if I've misrecalled.

I think you're wrong here.
Watch this;
It's in German but I think you'll get the idea.
The "pit" has 6 levels for the different orchestral groups and is huge.

The musicians of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra would be extremely insulted to be called a pit orchestra. These musicians are hand selected from the finest orchestras in Germany and it's a great honor to play there.
The first violin group, for instance, lists 28 musicians for 2013. This is a pool, of course, but they would hardly need 28 people for a section of 8-10.
I can't imagine them playing under 16 or at least 14 1st violins and 6- 8 basses, 6 for the earlier works and 8 for later.

A typical late Wagner opera would have 30+ wind players leaving only 20-25 for the strings (not counting the percussion)
Do you really think Wagner would have a 8-6-5-4-2 (or similar) string section for something like Götterdämmerung?

7  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: German Trombones in American Orchestras on: Jan 23, 2014, 07:37AM
Hello Bruce
I own one of them. It's basically a modular Shires just with a different bell. It's interchangeable so you can switch to any other bell option within the Shires system.

AFIK its an idea of Mr. Bertram. The bell is manufactured in Germany, then sent to Shires for fitting the mounting points and tuning slide receiver etc. Engraving and finishing is done at Shires. It's sold by Musik Bertram exclusively.

The bell flare diameter is about 8.5", very similar to a "normal" 8.5 bell. Its one piece, so the seam is running from the tuning slide receiver down to the flare. The bell is available in yellow or gold brass and has a nickel silver Kranz. The diameter at the tuning slide receiver logically is the same as the other Shires bells. Also the flare diameter. But the taper in between is different. The bell throat is wider.

If you combine with a dual bore slide, you may get something similar to a German style trombone. I never tried that. I use it with a TB47 or a TW25 slide.

Compared to the other bells, it sounds different, but not in a way that I could recognize it as German sound in regard to the attributes which seem to be linked with that. I perceive it as a sound with a rich spectrum of overtone and it "projects" very well. When I switch to my other bell option, a 2RVE, I always come back to the German model which gives a more "interesting" sound in my ears.

I am not a pro and have no experience with playing in a symphony so I can't tell whether it can serve as a German trombone there.


Thanks for the info, Richard.

So, the Shires is not really a traditional German trombone, which I would classify as a small, dual bore slide that is also longer than an American one. The bell is large, at least 9 inches, with a very thin wall and, usually, a Kranz.

This new type of trombone, which I myself would call a German-American hybrid, is becoming very popular here in Germany. It keeps some of the German traits, especially around the bell, using a more "American" .547 slide and valve tubing.

The traditional German trombone is a totally different beast altogether. You need to spend some time with this instrument and the players who play them usually play them exclusively.

8  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: German Trombones in American Orchestras on: Jan 22, 2014, 07:26AM
Ben, can you tell us about the Shires German trombone that Musik Bertram is advertising.
That would be interesting in this topic.
9  Creation and Performance / Performance / Re: German Trombones in American Orchestras on: Jan 22, 2014, 06:47AM
Although I play a Rath, my whole section plays Lätzsch so I play with German trombones almost every day,

My feelings are, yes, they do change color when they get louder and can get really nasty when pushed too hard.
This is one of the reasons I don't play one. I feel that an American trombone is easier to color at each dynamic, the German trombone's sound is more "predetermined". This can be great for certain repertoire but I find it too limiting for the modern chamber music I also do.

I also feel that a "Conn 88h style" trombone, be it a Conn, Rath, Shires, Courtois etc. can blend quite well with German trombones,  a "Bach 42 style" is a bit more difficult (one of the reasons I switched from a Bach to a Rath).

Most German and Austrian manufactures are offering American style horns (.547 bore) which are not really German trombones but, as far as I've heard, Berlin Phil. will accept them and it looks like the Vienna guys are using them, too. (I haven't seen Vienna use real German trombones for years and consider the sound they get more American than German)

The traditional German trombone section is weite I or II on 1st, weite II or III on 2nd and weite IV or V on bass. This sounds absolutely amazing on German classical and romantic repertoire. This is the sound you can hear on older Berlin Phil. recordings.
But because the weite I and II are so small in bore size (with larger bells than American horns) many players are starting to use weite III on 1st which I feel kind of destroys the traditional trombone sound. (Weite III is a .508 bore on the top slide and a .527 on the bottom, with a larger bell spout and sounds darker than an American .547 bore)
Herr Nienaber at Lätzsch says that many Austrian players are using a weite III slide with a weite II bell because the bell spout of the weite III is so big. This hasn't seemed to have caught on in Germany, maybe it will someday.
(Weite II is a .485. top slide and a .508 bottom slide with a bell flare similar to a .547 horn but 9" or more)

The weite II is a great horn but you really have to learn to cope with it's small bore resistance and feeling. In the right hands it can sound as big and full as a Bach 42, but it's not a horn you just pick up and play, I tried doing that for years and finally gave up.
Not many players are playing this one anymore which I think is too bad, because this is the quintessential German tenor trombone, the weite III is actually a horn for a 2nd/3rd player, who doubles on bass.

So for this reason many players are switching to German made .547 horns, so they can play a German horn and still have it sound like a tenor.
But this instrument is not really not much different than a Conn 88H, what does that tell us?

So, what was the question?  German trombones in American orchestras? Sure, why not, have fun! ;-)

10  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: Yamaha 57 on Tenor on: Jan 19, 2014, 01:30PM
Benny Sluchin plays a Schilke 57 on a Bach 42B. The Yamaha is based on the Schilke so should be pretty similar.
If you like it, play it.
11  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: Trubore on: Dec 24, 2013, 05:09PM
My Trubore froze up after about a half a year of playing (before a concert, of course). I took it apart and found metal shards (about 40-50) in the unused back holes in the valve.
One of these had gotten stuck in the valve. How these metal shards got past the quality check is beyond me.
Maybe you have the same problem.
It's always a pain to ship things back that don't work, but it's either that, take it to a tech or open it up and fix it yourself (not a good idea if you're not experienced at taking valves apart)

12  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: European large shank mouthpieces on: Dec 15, 2013, 02:35PM
I've had a JK 5BL. Basically just a 5G with a cool outer shape.

Uh, not really. For some reason Klier numbers their mouthpieces one size smaller than the Bach size equivalents. A Klier 5 rim is the same size as a Bach 4. A Klier 6 is like a Bach 5 and so forth.
13  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: Ultra-Pure Trombone Slide Lube - New & Improved Formula on: Dec 04, 2013, 02:41AM
Where would be the best place to get the new formula in Europe?
14  Teaching & Learning / History of the Trombone / Re: Why don't tenor trombones have two triggers like bass trombones? on: Nov 08, 2013, 07:54AM
I have one, custom made for me by Mick Rath.

Actually, it a by-product of my double bell trombone, where the second bell is activated by the second valve. I can convert it to an Bb-F-D tenor and am very surprised by how well it plays. I thought it would be kind of stuffy but it's not at all. The main difference is the weight, so it's not something I would use for 1st trombone in an orchestra, but for modern chamber music that covers the bass trombone range it's fantastic.

I wish I had done this years ago!

15  Creation and Performance / The Healthy Trombonist / Re: Lip Slurring Above High F on: Nov 06, 2013, 05:43AM
You're right about that. 

However I'll note that 7/4 is not entirely accepted.  It's the simplest ratio but 9/5 (+18 cents) and 16/9 (-4cents) also work and may be more common in practice because they are closer to equal temperament pitches.

This trombone player explains the proper occasion for all three:


I'll add that the Intonation Repair Tool CD and booklet is in the 16/9 camp and teaches that.

Thant's what I mean, our ears have become so used to well tempered tuning that we use a different minor 7th tuning to subtitute for the original one. I would never play the Ab in first position because it would be considered unacceptable, but actually it should be in tune in a Bb dominant 7th chord in just intonation.

16  Creation and Performance / The Healthy Trombonist / Re: Lip Slurring Above High F on: Nov 05, 2013, 12:43PM

My math makes it a bit larger. The largest discrepancy between just tuning and Equal temp is on thirds where there is about 1/7 of a semitone (14 cents) difference. If we say trombone positions are ~3.5" apart then 1/7th of that would be .5"

That's still pretty small and from our viewpoint at the top of the slide it probably looks even smaller.

Actually, the largest difference in just intonation is the before mentioned minor 7th, (7th patial = 7/4), which is about 31 cents lower than equal temperament, almost 1/3 of a semitone, or 1/6 of a whole tone.
Obviously, it is different on various trombones but, in principle, it should be in tune in first position, as it is on an alphorn, where it is one of the most colorful, interesting intervals, along with the 11th partial (high Eb in first position on a trombone).

17  Creation and Performance / The Healthy Trombonist / Re: Lip Slurring Above High F on: Nov 04, 2013, 12:20PM
In my lip slurs I skip the flat Ab and go from F to Bb.  I try not to encourage out of tune notes.

Actually the Ab is in tune, as it's part of the natural harmonic series of Bb. It is not considered in tune in well tempered tuning, which is in fact not in tune at all, at least not in just tuning.
I think it's unfortunate that are ears have become so used to well tempered tuning that we hear natural harmonics as out of tune.

I just took part in a  very long production of Harry Partch's Delusion of the Fury and it's amazing how out of tune a "well tuned" piano can sound after working intensely with just intonation.

18  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Beginner's first mute on: Nov 04, 2013, 04:19AM
A Dämpfer is a mute, a Dampfer is a steam ship.
19  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Learning Alto trombone on: Oct 09, 2013, 06:43AM
The best advice I got when I learned alto was to learn the notes in concert pitch, non transposed.
Don't learn to transpose from the Bb horn, later you will be playing in alto, tenor, treble (in various keys) and even bass clef. It is then very important to always know what note you are playing on the alto.

The Bb attachment, in my opinion, is what an F is to a tenor is, it extends the register down and helps with some slide technique. Don't use it as a fall back, learn how to play the Eb alto, it's not that hard.

20  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: Removing Corrosion From Inner Slide (ID) on: Sep 24, 2013, 02:25PM
Hi Benn,

I guess I should clarify myself a bit. I am perfectly capable of taking a valve apart, be it a rotary, Hagmann or Thayer.

My question is more aimed at cleaning the inner valve, separated from its casing. My Hagmann tends to get a green build up after a while. I have already cleaned it by putting it in a citric acid/water mix (20/80%) for half an hour. This cleans it well, but I'm also concerned about neutralizing it afterwards. The baking soda idea was new to me, I just used soapy water.
Is there a problem with this or is white vinegar generally better for this purpose?

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