re-starting trombone player needs tons of advice

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Hello, everyone. This is my first post to OTJ (and I think only my second post on the internet in my life). I'd like to start out by saying that I am very surprised how good-natured and helpful everyone seems to be here. I rarely ever see that online. I guess I'm just looking in the wrong places.  :)

Here's my situation: I played trombone for only 4 years in school. I absolutely loved it, but it was as a young kid with his hobby. A combination of moving from central Florida to middle-of-nowhere rural Illinois right at the beginning of highschool and getting braces on my teeth did a lot to discourage my middle-teenaged self. First I quit band, then I quit playing all together.

Fast forward about 9 years. I'm a recent collage graduate (delayed due to military) realizing there are a lot of things I used to do I really want to start again. And I happen to love "middle-of-nowhere" rural Illinois. :)

So now that all of you know my life story, I'm coming to the points I need advice on. I have a sister in 8th grade using my Bundy, and a brother in highschool using my King 3b. I don't have a clue how I rated a King 3b back in 7th grade, but it's there. :)   Without a trombone in the house most of the time (and only a matter of time before I get a job and move away again), I'm deciding on buying another one, for the first time as an adult with my own money. I've been quickly overwhelmed trying to research this. Can you believe I didn't even know there were so many differences in horns that cost had nothing to do with? I've given myself a working budget for the horn of about $500, which as far as I can tell means I need to look for used if I don't want a "beginner's" trombone. Starting with King (because they are familier) I started thinking I might like a straight 2b. But getting one below $500 looks like quite a challenge. I'm going to go to a music store in town today (only a 1/2 hour drive), but I don't know what to expect from a small-city store. So this is the first piece of advice I desire. Can anyone help me navigate this crazy world without feeling like my brother gets to play the better instrument?

My second area of concern is simply how to practice. When I was a kid, practicing meant playing a scale to warm up, playing the music we were given in school, and mixing it up with trying to reach the highest note I'd ever heard. :)  Now I pick up my little sister's horn and I find out that my ears are a lot better than my lips. Being in tune isn't so easy as it used to be, and anything on the slide farther than 4th position is way off. And the fact that my lips get tired quickly goes without saying.

Still, I'm better than I'd feared. My second question is how do I get back (and improve upon) what I used to have in the (reasonably) shortest time possible? I'm a lot more patient than I was as a kid, and can put in a lot more practice time (once I have a horn, of course). Whatever excercises you can suggest would be most appreciated.

Third, I'm more interested in music theory than I used to be, but just as clueless. While not directly related to playing the instrument, are there any beginnier's resources you can suggest? I don't mind spending money on books. Books are special to me. They get their own budget. :)

That about wraps it up for now. I hope I didn't bore you too much.  Thank you for your time.

David Schwartz:
Welcome, boris152, you've come to the right place.

1.  Your siblings are lucky.  Get past your envy.

2.  See if you can buy a suitable trombone from D J Kennedy.  He can be found somewhere online here and he's probably not too far from your home.  He'll counsel you reliably.

3.  Practice slow scales and scale patterns and arpeggios in all keys and in strict rhythm.  Nothing will help you re-learn the position patterns (and help your sightreading!) better than basic drills.  Play with a reference tonic drone so everything becomes an intonation drill.

Have fun!

Hi, Boris!

Welcome to the OTJ forum! :hi:

And welcome back to the trombone! :)  :)  :)

Here is the profile for DJ Kennedy. He's based in Chester, Illinois, and is a very reliable supplier of horns. He'll give you good advice too!

David Gross:
Welcome to the forum.

The best investment you can make is in trombone lessons. You will surprise yourself how much progress you can make with the guidance of a decent teacher. If you contact dj, ask him if he knows any teachers in your area. Othewise any local high school band director (or local college music department) might refer you to a teacher. A restart like this is the perfect time to shed any bad playing habits you might have and a good teacher will set you on the right path.

Todd Jonz:
Welcome to the "born again" trombonists club, Boris152!  You'll find a lot of us here in the Forum.  My "vacation" from the trombone lasted about thirty-five years!

> I'm going to go to a music store in town today (only a 1/2 hour drive),
> but I don't know what to expect from a small-city store.

Don't expect much.  (I live in the same "middle-of-nowhere" town that you do, except mine's in Vermont.)  You will probably find a supply of whatever large bore horn the local band director promotes for his students (probably a Bach 42BO) and a few lower cost, student model horns which may or may not be worth the asking price.  On the upside, you'll at least get a chance to play test several models.  If you find something you like, be sure to compare your local vendor's price with the price for the same horn at Woodwind and Brasswind.  WW&BW is a high volume retailer, and will likely beat anyone else's price by several hundred dollars -- or at least that's what I found when I bought my first horn after my thirty-five year hiatus.

Unless you really want a brand new horn, I, too, would recommend that you do business with DJ.  He'll be able to set you up with a used professional model in good condition at a reasonable price that will be far less than you'd spend on a new horn.  Since DJ is so close to you, a daytrip down to Chester to blow a few horns would probably be an excellent idea if you can find the time.

> my lips get tired quickly

When I first started playing again I was good for about fifteen minutes before my chops gave out.  After about three or four weeks I could last for an hour, my tone improved significantly, and my hand/brain coordination started to remember where to find 5th, 6th, and 7th positions.

> how do I get back (and improve upon) what I used to
> have in the (reasonably) shortest time possible?

Practice, practice, practice!  Don't practice for too long in one sitting; if you can make time for it, I'd recommend two or three shorter practice sessions a day.  And be sure not to overdo it; when you start to feel fatigued, put the horn down.

> My second area of concern is simply how to practice.

I dug out the last book that I had used as a kid, which was the Rubank Advanced Method, Volume I.  I also went down to the local music store and bought a copy of Volume II and the Arban Method and worked my way slowly through all three simultaneously.  These three books contain enough basic practice materials to last a lifetime, and I still use them in my routine practice sessions.  If you want something a little bit more fun to play, also pick up the first volume of the Rochut Melodious Etudes, which is pretty standard in most trombonists' arsenals.

I'll also go along with the folks above who have recommended that you find yourself a teacher.  I realize that this can be difficult when you live in the middle of nowhere, but you will progress much more quickly with a good teacher and avoid developing bad habits that may be difficult to fix down the road.

> I'm more interested in music theory than I used to
> be...are there any beginnier's resources you can suggest?

There are some excellent resources available online that won't cost you a nickel.  Check out this thread, which contains some pointers that folks here in the Forum have found useful.


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