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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPractice Room(Moderator: blast) The aging trombonist (and how to do it gracefully)
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bonenick

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« Reply #20 on: Nov 12, 2017, 05:33AM »

Geezer,

these are all valid points. However, I believe that as age advances, especially 55+, one should be more careful to any body abuse signals - muscles are more prone to tearing, bones to breaking, you should be more attentive to any excessive physical strain wether muscles, bones, ligaments or internal organs are concerned.

Of course, control and correct technique rules over brute force in any age.
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« Reply #21 on: Nov 12, 2017, 05:46AM »

Geezer,

these are all valid points. However, I believe that as age advances, especially 55+, one should be more careful to any body abuse signals - muscles are more prone to tearing, bones to breaking, you should be more attentive to any excessive physical strain wether muscles, bones, ligaments or internal organs are concerned.

Of course, control and correct technique rules over brute force in any age.

Agreed. And that is also why a thorough warm-up is extremely important to me as an "elderly athlete". Younger players may feel they do not need to warm up to play well. Good for them; I hope they enjoy their youth! But I increasingly try for a slower, more gentle warm-up and that is a new concept for me, as I have always tended towards a quicker, harsher warm-up. Old age may suck in many ways, but it doesn't have to mean it's light's out quitting time either. Old age isn't for sissies.

...Geezer
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« Reply #22 on: Nov 12, 2017, 06:14AM »

.
My breakthrough 10 years ago was figuring out lip compression. This means that my note production comes more from pressing my lips together as opposed to pressing the mouthpiece into my face.


This brings up the question of where the compression should be focused.  Should it be more vertical or more horizontal?  Most likely a combination of both, but to what degree?
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Torobone

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« Reply #23 on: Nov 12, 2017, 06:33AM »

This brings up the question of where the compression should be focused.  Should it be more vertical or more horizontal?  Most likely a combination of both, but to what degree?

Good question. Here's what I did. Before I started down the path of lip compression, I used to push the mouthpiece into my face, and I would get a red ring on my lips and face. I had played this way for about 40 years with decent but limiting results.

The first thing I did  to improve was vertical compression. The result was a more controlled but noticably darker sound. After a couple of years (I'm a slow learner I guess), my teacher (Al Kay) noticed my sound was a bit strained. He suggested that I stop working so hard on the vertical aspect and try to get more lip into the mouthpiece. More lip equals greater vibration, so I got a lot more sound with less effort. It allowed me to progress a lot further. It was an easy transition for me to this better approach.

Greater compression has allowed me to control attacks, play higher, and develop facial strength. I'm greatly indebted to Al as he is the only teacher I've had that could identify what was going on and make direct suggestions for improvement. He has retired away from Toronto now, but I plan at some point to make the 3 hour drive to see him again.

I hope this is helpful. Our trombone journey is a personal one.



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Martin Hubel
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« Reply #24 on: Nov 12, 2017, 08:15AM »

Good question. Here's what I did. Before I started down the path of lip compression, I used to push the mouthpiece into my face, and I would get a red ring on my lips and face. I had played this way for about 40 years with decent but limiting results.

The first thing I did  to improve was vertical compression. The result was a more controlled but noticably darker sound. After a couple of years (I'm a slow learner I guess), my teacher (Al Kay) noticed my sound was a bit strained. He suggested that I stop working so hard on the vertical aspect and try to get more lip into the mouthpiece. More lip equals greater vibration, so I got a lot more sound with less effort. It allowed me to progress a lot further. It was an easy transition for me to this better approach.

Greater compression has allowed me to control attacks, play higher, and develop facial strength. I'm greatly indebted to Al as he is the only teacher I've had that could identify what was going on and make direct suggestions for improvement. He has retired away from Toronto now, but I plan at some point to make the 3 hour drive to see him again.

I hope this is helpful. Our trombone journey is a personal one.


Trombonisms by Bill Watrous is a good source of info re aperture etc. First published in 1983 and gone the way of the Dodo it seems. I've never met anyone else who's even heard of it, let alone owns a copy, strange.
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« Reply #25 on: Nov 12, 2017, 09:15AM »

Trombonisms by Bill Watrous is a good source of info re aperture etc. First published in 1983 and gone way of the Dodo it seems. I've never met anyone else who's even heard of it, let alone owns a copy, strange.

I have one.  It's actually by Watrous and Alan Raph (Bass Trombonist Extraordinaire).  I hope it's still in print -- lots of good stuff in there.
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« Reply #26 on: Nov 12, 2017, 09:33AM »

I have it as well; bought it a couple years ago.

...Geezer
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« Reply #27 on: Nov 12, 2017, 10:07AM »

I have one.  It's actually by Watrous and Alan Raph (Bass Trombonist Extraordinaire).  I hope it's still in print -- lots of good stuff in there.

I thought I saw it on the Bonecat website.
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« Reply #28 on: Nov 12, 2017, 10:19AM »

This brings up the question of where the compression should be focused.  Should it be more vertical or more horizontal?  Most likely a combination of both, but to what degree?

My thinking these days is that the embouchure focuses the air stream at a particular point in the mpc which changes from register to register if not note to note, while the position of the tongue helps with the speed of the airflow). FWIW.
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« Reply #29 on: Nov 12, 2017, 11:23AM »

I have one.  It's actually by Watrous and Alan Raph (Bass Trombonist Extraordinaire).  I hope it's still in print -- lots of good stuff in there.

I saw him at the Bulls Head in London and had a front row seat. I noticed from time to time that he played a kind of false note, so I set about trying to re-create it.

I realised that  using his aperture "model" that he might not have been quite on the best setting for that particular note. Of course I could be completely wrong, and it was an entirely musical choice, but the outcome was still the same for me, which was for to start practicing with what I guessed would be the completely wrong setting, i.e. too pinched when playing a low note and too loose with a high one, and everything in-between. 

At this time I was busy playing lucrative bass/gtr gigs, so there was no real threat to my livelihood through screwing up my tbn chops.

This is the model that I use now, but it flies in the face of the current technique which is more about air speed and tongue shaping. I struggle with this idea because I can play all of my higher tones at different volumes, and with just an air start and a loose tongue.

About 9 years ago I started to play with my lower jaw pushed forward slightly, it hurt a lot to start with, but not any more, and that was a real result as well..
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« Reply #30 on: Nov 12, 2017, 12:01PM »

Not to be morbid, but realistically, we all know that old age will eventually win. There. That was the elephant in the room.

Sometimes the best offense we can mount is a delay tactic.

...Geezer
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« Reply #31 on: Nov 12, 2017, 12:02PM »

My thinking these days is that the embouchure focuses the air stream at a particular point in the mpc which changes from register to register if not note to note, while the position of the tongue helps with the speed of the airflow). FWIW.

FWIW, the first part of my warmup routine is to find the centre of the first note I play. This is normally a middle Bb, and when the note is centred, it is pretty obvious. I normally move the mouthpiece around as part of this process. This takes about 15 seconds.
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Martin Hubel
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« Reply #32 on: Nov 12, 2017, 12:03PM »

Not to be morbid, but realistically, we all know that old age will eventually win. There. That was the elephant in the room.

Sometimes the best offense we can mount is a delay tactic.

...Geezer

Yup, aging is inevitable. For me, it's mostly a series of unfortunate events.
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Martin Hubel
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« Reply #33 on: Nov 12, 2017, 12:09PM »

I pretty much use the same centering warm-up, except I use slurs.

I have been on this Forum for maybe five years. I have witnessed several 'bone players quit by not being able to cope with old age and all that comes with it. I don't wish to be one of them. You only lose when you give up. And as long as you don't give up, it should be considered a win.

...Geezer
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« Reply #34 on: Nov 12, 2017, 01:51PM »

Yup, aging is inevitable. For me, it's mostly a series of unfortunate events.

Satchel Paige:  “Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
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« Reply #35 on: Nov 12, 2017, 06:12PM »

I take a line from George Burns, who said something to the effect that "any day I wake up on this side of the dirt is a good day".
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #36 on: Nov 12, 2017, 07:14PM »

I have been on this Forum for maybe five years. I have witnessed several 'bone players quit by not being able to cope with old age and all that comes with it. I don't wish to be one of them. You only lose when you give up. And as long as you don't give up, it should be considered a win.
...Geezer

Whoever you're referring to didn't necessarily "quit" because they "couldn't cope with old age". They may have come to a decision that it made sense to move on to other pursuits either due to pain, their playing actually making a physical ailment worse, or the inability to play at the level they demanded of themselves. You may reach the same decision some day.
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« Reply #37 on: Nov 12, 2017, 11:11PM »

Hi. You don't stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing. I've lost 2 wives to cancer and all I can say is thank god for music and the trombone because it helps me to cope. The older I get the better I used to be, but I still keep up my practice to do what I do. Currently playing Little Mermaid and music gives me something to look forward to and something to  practice for. Eating properly, bit of exercise and no alcohol. I've seen to many old muso's go down with the grog. also look forward and keep the right state of mind. Life Happens Remember, You can't turn back the clock but you can wind it up again. Cheers Max
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« Reply #38 on: Nov 12, 2017, 11:47PM »

Another age-related reason I play less (and play worse for it) is that I have more interests now. Some are musical, others not at all, but I like them and they all take time to pursue if i want to do them well.

When trombone was one of few interests it was possible to spend hours a day practicing.  But now it is just one of many.  I enjoy the other things partly because they are new, whereas trombone is mostly going to be retreading old ground for me.

I did bands and orchestras for years, that scene is not going to change. I'm looking for new things to do.
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« Reply #39 on: Nov 13, 2017, 04:11AM »

You can't do it gracefully. It will be hard hard work. After age 50 you have to run twice as fast as you can , just to stand still effortlessly.

Brass players older than myself warned me. The trumpet players I worked with got up at 4AM to warm up at 5AM for 10AM church service gigs. That was a huge help, that advice.

Me? I'm 56 and have been a letter carrier (mailman) for 28 years. 7 years in the army before that. 35 years on my feet all day. Working hard. The blessing of all that? Age 56 and I could walk or work to death any kid between the ages of 20 and 40 trying to follow me. Heart and lung health off the scale from sucking wind through a balaclava covering the face in the Canadian arctic climate 6 months a year.

No way to do it gracefully. None.
Stretch daily. If it hurts, as it should, do it TWICE
No red meat. No smoking. No booze.
You want fun after age 55? A strong cup of good tea is about it.

Unfortunately I've outlived my orthopedic surgeon and my bad knee has outlived it's warranty....but I do 15 miles with a 40 lb pack daily.

Breathing hard walking 15 miles daily wit ha pack keeps my need to do breathing exercises on the horn to a minimum. Sorting mail, and reaching to 400 boxes keeps my need to do physio on the arms to minimum.

In a way I'm blessed by having a ****** brutal life...it makes playing the horn effortless. Still, I recently got into baritone in a crack brass band and really love the change to valves again. Doubling makes it fun mentally.

Grace? The grace comes at rehearsal after you torture yourself every of the preceding week and still have 100% chops and 100% body for those few hours. I'm looking forward to blowing my balls off until I'm 95. But I know it will not be fun.
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