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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPedagogy(Moderators: JP, Doug Elliott) Beginner Trombone Hand Positions
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BorderBone

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« on: Nov 08, 2012, 09:07PM »

I wanted to see what everyones thoughts were on the First Position F  placement at the beginner stage.

1) Do you have them play all the way in?

2) Do you have then play out of first position a little bit?

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Exzaclee

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« Reply #1 on: Nov 08, 2012, 09:21PM »

i start them early if they can handle it. 

i don't like the whole "let them develop bad habits early" philosophy their band directors are content with.  they study with me to fix that crap.  i feel like i've spent my whole life trying to fix my own bad habits.  if i can save one kid from that... one kid from the fundamental nightmare that is learning trombone from a french horn player, then i will have accomplished something in my life.

you don't necessarily have to throw it at them on the first day... they need some perspective.  once they can handle it, make them handle it.  it's only hard if they think it's hard. 
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svenlarsson

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« Reply #2 on: Nov 09, 2012, 04:29AM »

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« Reply #3 on: Nov 09, 2012, 05:03AM »

It seems to me that contained in that question is an assumption that the first note should be middle F.

Maybe that's not correct.  Maybe the center note for a beginner should be the Bb above that, or even the F 8va. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 09, 2012, 05:28AM »

The issue is that the partial that contains F (and the one an octave higher) tend to be a tad sharp and the note needs to be flattened.  This partial is sharp on all Bb brass instruments.  It seems that it has become a fad to tune to this note in large ensembles (one of my community bands does this).  So everybody is tuning to an inherently sharp note since most beginners play this note in the closed (no valves on the valved brass) position.

F is probably the easiest note for a beginner on the trombone to play, so it becomes a starting point.  But if we accept F as "in tune" in 1st position, then almost all of our other notes in 1st position become flat.  This is a dilemma to deal with beginning players.  I know I was told by my first real trombone teacher to pull the slide out just a little for both those Fs.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 09, 2012, 05:48AM »


F is probably the easiest note for a beginner on the trombone to play, so it becomes a starting point. 

That theory is what drives the rest of the problems.

That note is sharp on most horns.  If we assume it is the best note for a beginner to start with, and if we assume that first is all the way in, then we have created inherent tuning challenges. 

That F may not be the easiest note for a beginner using some semblance of a correct embouchure. 
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 09, 2012, 07:33AM »

Sorry Tim, I have to respectfully disagree.

I'm 25 years past beginning but I still remember the physical sensation.  I also teach a few beginners.  The F below middle C, and the Bb below that are usually the easiest notes for a beginning kid to play.  Some can even ping the Bb below middle C right away, most can't.  I'm basing this observation off of seeing what they can do before their band director has had too much of a chance to fill their head with nonsense.  I don't have my kids crack a book in the first few lessons.  I just want them to play the horn and find out what their natural tendencies are and build off of that.

An older beginner, maybe one who has played another wind instrument before, well that's different.  Most of the beginners I teach are starting around 9 and 10.  This is different with larger 12 year olds, who I can have producing good Ds within a matter of weeks if their physiology is good and they practice a little bit.

most 10 year olds in my experience have a problem, that's why F, or Eb, or something in that area tends to work better for getting them to produce a good centered tone.  Of course many factors can influence this, none of which I'll get into here, as that's not anywhere near my area of "expertise" :D
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 09, 2012, 08:05AM »

First position slightly out presumes a little room for adjusting intonation.  Besides trying to explain why first position isn't all the way in, I doubt a beginning 10 year old will be able to play in tune. I'm still trying to get my 11 year old niece to play with a fuller sound - she can articulate an F-in-the-staff pretty well, but the Bb just below middle C is still unplayable for her. 

I wouldn't even attempt to begin to explain the concept of a slightly out first position, even if I'd thought about it.

As far as tuning challenges, we have it pretty easy compared to a valved instrument.
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Exzaclee

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« Reply #8 on: Nov 09, 2012, 08:16AM »

I wouldn't even attempt to begin to explain the concept of a slightly out first position, even if I'd thought about it.


I just have them play the pitch with me and "make the warbles stop."  It seems to work.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 09, 2012, 08:42AM »

"make the warbles stop" is a concept even a trombone player can understand.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 09, 2012, 11:07AM »

Sorry Tim, I have to respectfully disagree.

The F below middle C, and the Bb below that are usually the easiest notes for a beginning kid to play.  Some can even ping the Bb below middle C right away, most can't. 

You're not disagreeing with me so you don't have to be respectful.  (But thank you anyway.  Hee, hee)  I don't teach anybody (well I do, but not trombone; don't want to mess them up) and it isn't my idea.

While I have plenty of wacko theories, this isn't one of mine.  There are some teachers who have suggested the F is a bad choice to start on for a couple of reasons.  It encourages a low embouchure set that can get in the way of playing efficiently in the middle and upper range.  And a very incorrect embouchure can still work fine on a note that easy.  Better to start a little higher and reinforce good habits from the beginning. 

I can't give you a reference right off but I've heard this from both trombonists and trumpeters (using the trumpet second line G as the equivalent.)

 
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« Reply #11 on: Nov 09, 2012, 12:01PM »

I wanted to see what everyones thoughts were on the First Position F  placement at the beginner stage.

1) Do you have them play all the way in?

2) Do you have then play out of first position a little bit?

For beginners, I don't even worry about this yet. I just am happy to help them produce a stable sound of any kind, and to associate any specific pitch with a note name. Also, different people may end up having different notes that they find easier to play at first. I'm flexible; I go with what they figure out first and help their development from there.
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