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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningBeginners and Returning Trombonists(Moderator: bhcordova) Most dramatic improvements you’ve seen
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davdud101
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« on: Nov 23, 2017, 07:31PM »

Hi trombrethren, and a Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m in need of a little motivating “pump-up” to give myself some hope as an amateur with few outlets for performing on trombone, and even far fewer for trumpet. Not to mention a bandleader/stranger whose band is just not moving much in skill.
Anyone got any good stories of dramatic improvement over short time from their students? Especially things like what people could do after 2-4 years of steady practice for folks college-aged and over. Doesn’t have to be trombone...  also preferred if it’s piano, trumpet, saxophone, etc.
I love hearing stories of folks who seemed hopeless who ended up becoming great musicians - esp those who went from nada to pro.
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« Reply #1 on: Nov 23, 2017, 10:07PM »

I had a huge improvement myself after sitting in a brass quintet for about a year with a trumpet player named Marcus. I thought I knew about music...

After listening to, and trying to match this dude's playing on C trumpet for a year, I took a long, hard look at what I needed to do to even try to come close. We were doing tons of stuff as a group to improve overall, like playing chorales over a drone, taking turns rehearsing the group so we had a variety of perspectives, etc, but I really just needed to take a new approach to what I was doing.

I got Brad Edwards' book, and Arnold Jacobs' book, and Charlie's book, and ended settling into the Brad Edwards book. I played it religiously, for about an hour a day using a Dr. Beat with it's tuning drone function. Outside of rehearsals, it was pretty much all I played. I also swapped out my mouthpiece to something much more mainstream.

I think the improvement was really me realizing just how far I still have to go to come close to these guys like Marcus, and also how much more music you can squeeze out of a score from just knowing your fundamentals inside and out, rather than technique technique technique. It was real inspiration, and it was not from a trombone player.
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 24, 2017, 12:36AM »

Hi trombrethren, and a Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m in need of a little motivating “pump-up” to give myself some hope as an amateur with few outlets for performing on trombone, and even far fewer for trumpet. Not to mention a bandleader/stranger whose band is just not moving much in skill.
Anyone got any good stories of dramatic improvement over short time from their students? Especially things like what people could do after 2-4 years of steady practice for folks college-aged and over. Doesn’t have to be trombone...  also preferred if it’s piano, trumpet, saxophone, etc.
I love hearing stories of folks who seemed hopeless who ended up becoming great musicians - esp those who went from nada to pro.

Nothing that has not included a lot of hard work. As a teacher I have heard of newbes who took a few lessons in their first term and bought the first book and then came back after summer and could do everything in that book. Never had a student like that myself though. Since I play in semi professional context and therefore often gets the chance to play with the new students at the music college in Stockholm I can hear some do fast progress between the occasions.

Personally hard work and a long journey of small steps has lead me to what I know. Some of the discoveries was easy and some very hard. I still do progress that I can see happen. Things I do better today than a year ago.

/Tom
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 24, 2017, 05:41AM »

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving Dave!

I wonder if perhaps you are doing yourself a dis-service with the approach of this post? You've been playing for some time now.  Seems like you are now enough of a musician and trombonist to judge your musical environment pretty easily. 

Perhaps at this point you are ready for the "long haul?" Perhaps you are ready to make music for a lifetime instead of for the next day or year?

Thought exercise: hold your trombone with the bell facing straight up.  Notice how the small end of the taper also goes almost straight up, but then the flare goes almost straight sideways.  The small end of the taper is like the dramatic improvements a new player gets, sometimes daily.  As a player gets better improvements become more like the flare: it takes a longer and longer to achieve less and less. 

Thing is, it is exactly those small achievements "up on the flare" that will entice others to play along with you, and audiences to listen.  The audiences won't know WHY they want to listen, but all those more subtle improvements will be there, and the audience will hear them.  The poorer musicians will be like the audience; the better ones will already know about this curve, and appreciate that you have been paying your dues.

If you need the kind of improvements you got when you were new and working on the small end of the taper to "pump -up" you are setting yourself up for dissappointment. If, on the other hand, you take this opportunity to appreciate how far you have come, and pay even better attention to celebrate when you make the LESS dramatic improvements, you set yourself up to make music for a lifetime.  Whether those more subtle improvements are because, after a year working with an exception C trumpet player, you improved by osmosis, or you spend a year working on making just a certain type of octave jump as smooth as silk doesn't matter.  The important thing is to recognize the SMALL signs of improvement, pay attention to them, and keep them coming.

Just my two cents. 
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 24, 2017, 09:16AM »

Of course, to reach the best of your potential, hard and intelligent work. And I'll agree with pretty all that's been said.

But perhaps strangely, the most dramatic improvement I've seen happen was from stepping back and taking time off, actually. A trumpet player friend of mine who I've known since we were 12. He was never the best (nor the worst). We both went into music at the same school after high school (back home we have 2-3 years of pre-college school from 17 to 19-20 years old, kind of the equivalent of community college except it's not optional - it's mandatory if you want to go to college, which is 3 years instead of 4). Good musician and worked his ass off for his trumpet technique to be as good as his musicianship was, never quite getting his playing to the level that he wanted and especially at the end, he was stalled and wouldn't improve more. After 3 years it was clear that he wouldn't make it into the professional world even if he pursued a performance degree, so he took a year off from school. Didn't practice nearly as much, kept playing in orchestras and for fun. We didn't play in the same groups so I didn't get a chance to really hear him play during that year. Then he went to college in musicology at the university I was at, got into the university orchestra and joined the youth symphony I was playing in. He had progressed much, much more in that one year of not studying music and not stressing out constantly about his playing than he had in the 3 years where he studied and worked hard and practiced 3 hours a day...

Goes to show that the education system is not always the most appropriate environment for some people, and that the constant stress of performing, competing and constantly needing to show improvement can sometimes hold you back and prevent you from actually improving. Taking a step back can sometimes lead to big breakthroughs.
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 24, 2017, 09:22AM »

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving Dave!

I wonder if perhaps you are doing yourself a dis-service with the approach of this post? You've been playing for some time now.  Seems like you are now enough of a musician and trombonist to judge your musical environment pretty easily. 

Perhaps at this point you are ready for the "long haul?" Perhaps you are ready to make music for a lifetime instead of for the next day or year?

Thought exercise: hold your trombone with the bell facing straight up.  Notice how the small end of the taper also goes almost straight up, but then the flare goes almost straight sideways.  The small end of the taper is like the dramatic improvements a new player gets, sometimes daily.  As a player gets better improvements become more like the flare: it takes a longer and longer to achieve less and less. 

Thing is, it is exactly those small achievements "up on the flare" that will entice others to play along with you, and audiences to listen.  The audiences won't know WHY they want to listen, but all those more subtle improvements will be there, and the audience will hear them.  The poorer musicians will be like the audience; the better ones will already know about this curve, and appreciate that you have been paying your dues.

If you need the kind of improvements you got when you were new and working on the small end of the taper to "pump -up" you are setting yourself up for dissappointment. If, on the other hand, you take this opportunity to appreciate how far you have come, and pay even better attention to celebrate when you make the LESS dramatic improvements, you set yourself up to make music for a lifetime.  Whether those more subtle improvements are because, after a year working with an exception C trumpet player, you improved by osmosis, or you spend a year working on making just a certain type of octave jump as smooth as silk doesn't matter.  The important thing is to recognize the SMALL signs of improvement, pay attention to them, and keep them coming.

Just my two cents. 


Your two cents are worth a lot of dollars! Great post!

I like your bell metaphor.

The more I play with amazing world-class musicians, the more I realize that what makes the difference between good and great is not things that you notice the person is doing. It's things that you don't notice they're doing, but that you would notice if they didn't.
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 24, 2017, 11:42AM »

Dave's two cents are gold!
As a teacher I see a lot. Let me add a little. No matter age or level there can sometimes be a problem developing too fast. It has to do with maturity as you learn. The improvements is to fast so maturity and understanding dont follow. Some also loose it fast. That said some develop faster than others even in musical maturity. We are all different. As Dave told the learning curve is always more noticeable in the beginning. So as time go, appreciate small steps because they mean a lot. Let previous steps sink in, let them mature. And also beside our trombone, develop a mature musical soul. 

Ok, I can't explain things so good but hope there is something with sense in my simple words. Enjoy the small things in music and the trombone. Humble and hard working is the clue....

Leif
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 24, 2017, 12:48PM »


Anyone got any good stories of dramatic improvement over short time from their students? Especially things like what people could do after 2-4 years of steady practice for folks college-aged and over.


You asked for stories so here goes . . .

I'm 35 and I've been playing trombone for 9 months with weekly private lessons.  I practice tuning every day for a bit in the morning, then in the evenings I play/learn the songs for the three bands I'm in. I can play lots of different 16th note rhythms and dynamics and my range for performances is to  .  I still make mistakes fairly often . . . but that is OK because I make them at the right volume Evil.

From ages 6-25 I played piano and learned hard pieces to try to impress people.  I especially liked playing this one Chopin polonaise, some of his preludes, Joplin and Grieg.  I played lots of Hannon exercises (if you've ever heard of those).  Anyway it stopped being fun because I wanted learn harder and harder pieces and always sound good.  And when I didn't have the time to maintain a high level, I basically gave up music for 10 years.

Learning trombone has been a humbling experience, but i have definitely enjoyed a nice fast rate of improvement --- thanks to my private teacher and fundamental music knowledge from piano.  I may be tapering off now. It is hard to tell for sure.  My level of enjoyment is going through the roof though.  I am getting to play really cool pieces and have been getting asked to be in more groups.  Its fun to play with other people and to listen to what they are able to do.  It is cool to hear them do something new or play something especially nicely, or just especially loudly.  Listening to people around me is something I didn't get with piano and love about trombone.

One of my only hard rules for practice is that I get to play whatever I want to play.  If some type of practice makes my enjoy playing more, than I do it.  I don't practice to sound better per se.  I practice to get better at enjoying practice.  Good practice habits are whatever is fun and makes me want to play more trombone.  Playing loud is pretty fun so I do that every day. Also, playing in tune with a track or other people has this level of listening and adjusting which is really fun for some reason.

So, in conclusion: trombone -> fun. listening to other people -> fun. band rehearsal -> fun. music -> fun. 

Out of curiosity, how loud does your band play?  Maybe they should play more louder.  I find that if I play louder, then so does everyone else.  It is fun to have a positive impact, on volume.

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« Reply #8 on: Nov 24, 2017, 01:28PM »


You asked for stories so here goes . . .

I'm 35 and I've been playing trombone for 9 months with weekly private lessons.  I practice tuning every day for a bit in the morning, then in the evenings I play/learn the songs for the three bands I'm in. I can play lots of different 16th note rhythms and dynamics and my range for performances is to  .  I still make mistakes fairly often . . . but that is OK because I make them at the right volume Evil.

From ages 6-25 I played piano and learned hard pieces to try to impress people.  I especially liked playing this one Chopin polonaise, some of his preludes, Joplin and Grieg.  I played lots of Hannon exercises (if you've ever heard of those).  Anyway it stopped being fun because I wanted learn harder and harder pieces and always sound good.  And when I didn't have the time to maintain a high level, I basically gave up music for 10 years.

Learning trombone has been a humbling experience, but i have definitely enjoyed a nice fast rate of improvement --- thanks to my private teacher and fundamental music knowledge from piano.  I may be tapering off now. It is hard to tell for sure.  My level of enjoyment is going through the roof though.  I am getting to play really cool pieces and have been getting asked to be in more groups.  Its fun to play with other people and to listen to what they are able to do.  It is cool to hear them do something new or play something especially nicely, or just especially loudly.  Listening to people around me is something I didn't get with piano and love about trombone.

One of my only hard rules for practice is that I get to play whatever I want to play.  If some type of practice makes my enjoy playing more, than I do it.  I don't practice to sound better per se.  I practice to get better at enjoying practice.  Good practice habits are whatever is fun and makes me want to play more trombone.  Playing loud is pretty fun so I do that every day. Also, playing in tune with a track or other people has this level of listening and adjusting which is really fun for some reason.

So, in conclusion: trombone -> fun. listening to other people -> fun. band rehearsal -> fun. music -> fun. 

Out of curiosity, how loud does your band play?  Maybe they should play more louder.  I find that if I play louder, then so does everyone else.  It is fun to have a positive impact, on volume.



Good for you Good! Sounds like you are having fun.

About volume...  I do think it is fun to play loud. To sing out loud with a clear resonant trombone voice were it is supposed to be loud is fun.

You are also right in your observations that loud triggers loud. Good if it is suposed to be loud. It gives energy.

The opposite shuld be the same, but often it isn't. Sometimes others need to step back in favour of you, so you can be heard without struggeling to be heard and vice versa. Some playes completely ignore ALL nuances.

In a choire less skilled singers get confidence when there are strong singers around them. This means they sing a lot louder then they usually do, but still false.

In a band less skilled trombone players tend to play not strong enough when forte and not soft enough when piano.

Loud trombones in fortissimo is beautiful in the right context  Good! Good! Good!

/Tom
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