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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningSchools, Colleges and Conservatories(Moderators: john sandhagen, zemry) Band Teacher decrees no trombones in marching band- what?
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« on: Oct 11, 2011, 08:13AM »

Fellow Trombonists, teachers, and students,
The following email was sent to me by the parent of a student.  My purpose for posting it here on the forum is follows.

1.  Comments?
2. Anyone ever heard of this before?
3. Advice or suggestions to the parent?

Thanks in Advance. 

Here is the email:

Doug,

I have a question, and I need an outside expert's advice.

Our marching band instructor has decreed that starting next year, trombones will no longer be allowed to participate in the marching band.   He suggests that trombone players should begin studying the baritone instead.  We have made extremely gentle inquiries abut this, and have been told that many marching bands are doing this, that the baritone is very compatible with the trombone, and that to be a good band parent, we need to shut up, sit down, and buy our kid a baritone.

This doesn't sit well with me.  Can a trombonist pick up a baritone and begin playing competently, needing only a brief introduction to the working of the valves?  Do most schools have extra baritones lying around, waiting for someone to pick them up?  What would your reaction be, and what should ours be?  If my son is to spend 1000 hours over the next three years playing baritone in the marching band, will that help his chances at a music scholarship, or will these hours spent NOT playing the trombone ultimately hurt his chances?
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 11, 2011, 08:41AM »

There have been reports here of students using Marching Trombones (these are trumpet-shaped instruments with 3 valves) for Marching Band.

There are a couple of advantages:

1.  The instruments are more compact and hence less likely to be damaged in a collision.

2.  They use the same size mouthpiece as a trombone so the embouchure remains mostly the same.

3.  Since they are a different instrument, if the student tends to hold a trombone at a 30 degree downward angle you can force him to hold this instrument straight out for better appearance (at the cost of worse sound).

A student of trombone is well served to learn valves.  Being able to double on a valve instrument like a tuba or euphonium can help later in getting gigs.  A teacher of music should be facile with valve operation and also with how to play the various reed/woodwind instruments (not to mention the orchestral strings).

As to forcing the parents to go out and buy baritone horns, that's unfair.  If you want a certain appearance you should go get the instruments that do it.  Want the kids to march with Shires 547's with F-attachment?  Get a set.  Want the kids to march with Marching Trombone/Baritones or honest-to-goodness Baritones/Euphoniums?  Provide them.

Will spending time playing Marching Trombone hurt your kid's ability to play?  Probably not worse than spending the same amount of time playing blastissimo on a trombone on the marching field.
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:05AM »

I've heard about this with DCI bands, and occasionally some jackwad of a director wants to make their marching band be like a DCI band.

The range is essentially the same as the trombone, the partials are the same, still in Bb, and it uses similar mouthpieces. The band director might want to kill their natural horn angle seeing as it's marching band, but he would probably do it on trombone anyway. A good doubler would tell you that both require different tonal concepts and a different approach, but if he's willy-nilly making the decree he's probably not going to show them that either. Learning wise, it's mostly a difference of learning the valves compared to slide positions and a big price tag. Negative potential is that the students learn to tune the partial quirks with their lips rather then the slide and that will take a while to unlearn. Positive potential, it makes doubling on trumpet and tuba much easier. Marching wise, it allows tighter formations that increase the hearing damage of the poor students crammed together for the sake of pointless aesthetics. Not a big win there...

My biggest issue with it would be if the director is expecting the parents to foot the bill so that trombone players can now play two instruments. It's a lot of investment for extremely little gain for the students and parents. Trombones can march just fine. If this is the first year he's trying, and it was my kid, I'd put forth some serious pushback. File a complaint with him, the principal, the arts coordinator and the school board and say: look, I already put forth $600 bucks so my kids could join band. Now I'm told for him to continue, it'll cost another 1,000? What type of racket are you pulling here? And I would get as many other parents doing the same as I could.

If he wants to march baritones, he need to pony up the money to provide them.
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« Reply #3 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:16AM »

Just get all the parents to buy the $50 wingding, chingdao horns on fleabay!



Eric
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:25AM »

Here's my advice to the parent.

1. the time spent in marching band playing the trombone is not going to be useful to the student as far as developing their trombone playing skills anyways. If they are counting on a music scholarship for being the best possible trombone player, they'd be better served by quitting the school band alltogether and spending that huge amount of free time practicing or participating in youth orchestras or chamber groups.

2. if they do play a marching baritone, learning to be good at playing valved instruments is a VERY useful skill for a trombonist, anyways.

3. if the school doesn't have baritones to lend ALL of their trombone-playing students for something like this they shouldn't be making the demand that parents buy them. They should just let them play trombone.
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:37AM »

Several of the "better" marching programs in my area use baritones. Upside is they are less susceptible to "fatal" damage and are easier to deal with in formation, They use similar mouthpieces to trombones and valve chops could be useful in later life. However the school should provide them if they are required.

In general, I tell students who are serious and want to go on in music beyond HS to either get out of marching or if the director is hardheaded, just march and fake the playing. The way many directors make them play on the field causes problems and bad habits that take too long to correct if you're going to be auditioning for Eastman and Juilliard a few weeks after the last halftime show.
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:40AM »

When I was in high school, just before the invention of electricity, there were a number of instruments that did not march.

Oboe, bassoon, bass clarinet, etc.  Most of these were assigned to utility percussion or some other instrument, provided by the school. 

I think the criteria were a mix between being too soft to be heard and being too expensive to risk collisions and bad weather. 

The latter might actually apply to trombones, if it's a band where a number of people own expensive horns. 
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:56AM »

When I was in high school, just before the invention of electricity, there were a number of instruments that did not march.

Oboe, bassoon, bass clarinet, etc.  Most of these were assigned to utility percussion or some other instrument, provided by the school.I think the criteria were a mix between being too soft to be heard and being too expensive to risk collisions and bad weather.The latter might actually apply to trombones, if it's a band where a number of people own expensive horns. 


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« Reply #8 on: Oct 11, 2011, 10:02AM »


In general, I tell students who are serious and want to go on in music beyond HS to either get out of marching or if the director is hardheaded, just march and fake the playing. The way many directors make them play on the field causes problems and bad habits that take too long to correct if you're going to be auditioning for Eastman and Juilliard a few weeks after the last halftime show.

Thank you for saying this, Mr. Van Schaik. I've been experiencing this with my own 6th grade student to some degree, wherein the middle school's band director is key to get them into marching/pep band type stuff, and in doing so managed to throw my student a principal part from a pep band piece I played in high school which is loud and (relatively) high and will cause him to engage in habits that will not be conducive to his future development as a musician.

That puts me in the position of moderating between keeping him from hurting himself with bad habits and wearing himself out... and also doing my best to supplement and enrich the musical experiences he has available to him (Which at present are almost entirely within his school system).

I would be much happier if his pep band didn't exist, but the student seems to enjoy it, which makes it all the more difficult.
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« Reply #9 on: Oct 11, 2011, 10:09AM »

I have a friend who was a bassoon player in the Air Force Band of Liberty.  When they marched, he did not play his bassoon; he played a tenor saxophone.  Much better choice.  At least you will hear the tenor saxophone.  He was over 6' 7" tall and they made him Drum Major.  Quite impressive to see this very tall guy in a 3 foot Shako holding a mace aloft :)

I agree that oboes and bassoons (and to a lesser extent bass or alto clarinets) really don't make enough noise to be useful out on the marching field.  I'd even extend that to clarinets and maybe flutes as well.  You get more noise from brass than from woodwinds.  On the other side, a set of delicate woodwinds can be a wonderful thing in the concert hall.
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« Reply #10 on: Oct 11, 2011, 10:45AM »

Yeah, but a band director isn't going to tell all the oboe players they need to go out and have their parents purchase them marimbas.
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« Reply #11 on: Oct 11, 2011, 10:55AM »

Matter of fact, a Marching Marimba (it's basically a Glockenspiel with wood tiles) costs a lot less than an oboe.

Still, percussion instruments are normally provided by the school.

I think if the BD wants some special kind of marching instrument in the brass or woodwind section they should provide it.  Like Mellophones for the horn players (do they still use them?).
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« Reply #12 on: Oct 11, 2011, 11:19AM »

If they are counting on a music scholarship for being the best possible trombone player, they'd be better served by quitting the school band alltogether and spending that huge amount of free time practicing or participating in youth orchestras or chamber groups.

Good advice, assuming you have the choice.  Lots of places, the top-tier "symphonic" band is the marching band (you don't have much choice; it's part of the curriculum) and there's not much in the way of youth orchestras unless you're able to pack up and move.  At least that's the way it was when I was in school.

(In fact, marching band really turned me off in high school.  I figured there were much easier ways to get spat on by the football team.)

Of course, in that case, the directors tend to be happy with whatever they can get.  It's usually the well-heeled suburban high schools that come up with nonsense like this.

Quote
3. if the school doesn't have baritones to lend ALL of their trombone-playing students for something like this they shouldn't be making the demand that parents buy them. They should just let them play trombone.

Maybe somebody needs to put pressure on the Warwickshire boys to develop a ptone. :)
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« Reply #13 on: Oct 11, 2011, 11:57AM »

Any stupid decision like this should be completely handled by the director. He wants Trombonists on "Baritones" ( I'm sure he's thinking Marching Euphonium )? He should have the school provide them. Marching Trombones will be the easiest switch as the resistance and sound concepts are similar. Marching a concert Baritone Horn or Euphonium is an awful idea and should never be considered for any modern marching ensemble.
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« Reply #14 on: Oct 11, 2011, 12:07PM »

Truth be told, there's also no really satisfying/secure way to mount a lyre on any trombone I've used. I imagine that a marching low brass Bb horn of any flavor would be better in that regard as well.
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« Reply #15 on: Oct 11, 2011, 12:13PM »

Truth be told, there's also no really satisfying/secure way to mount a lyre on any trombone I've used. I imagine that a marching low brass Bb horn of any flavor would be better in that regard as well.


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« Reply #16 on: Oct 11, 2011, 12:15PM »

new thread being started so we can split benefits of marching band and the oringinal poster's problem.

please join me in discussing the "benefits" of marching band on that thread

http://tromboneforum.org/index.php/topic,58648.new.html

with regard to the op's problem

first talk directly to band director about your concerns, if you havent' done so.

second talk to school admin.

third, consider vintage

good luck
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 11, 2011, 12:15PM »


Bach in my day, we memorized all our music!  Clever 

That's normally what I do (well, that, or support the folder and the horn together with my left hand at the bell, like a plunger sort of), but, for example, I recently got hired to play in a St. Something's Day parade, with Italian marches that nobody has ever played before on no rehearsal. I envied the trumpets and euphoniums and their lyre arrangements that day, especially when I managed to drop my slide on the concrete (no damage thankfully) while changing between pieces
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« Reply #18 on: Oct 11, 2011, 12:25PM »

Truth be told, there's also no really satisfying/secure way to mount a lyre on any trombone I've used.

I never had a problem with the old clamp-ons.  However, it should be said that I was also never expected to field anything more than my heavy-duty Superior (that raw brass on raw brass fit was pretty secure).  Marching with (relatively) delicate large-bore triggerbones is yet another can of worms.

Bach in my day, we memorized all our music!  Clever 

Yeah.  On the day, I always did without.  Sadly, my brain don't work so good no more. :(
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« Reply #19 on: Oct 11, 2011, 12:33PM »

I recently found a facebook page, for my college Marching Band, and joined.
I asked where the pictures of the trombone section was, and was told they don't use trombones.
Granted I was there back in '83-'87, but we did have trombones in the marching band ('80-'83High School & '83-'87 College).

So why not now?  Don't know
Don't make sense. A marching band isn't a marching band (IMHO) without trombones!

I was 
I managed to drop my slide on the concrete (no damage thankfully) while changing between pieces.
Slide locks are your friend.  :D

Bach in my day, we memorized all our music!  Clever 
Bach in my day, we did too.  Good!


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