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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformancePerformance(Moderator: BGuttman) Oliver! The musical - First time playing in the pit/brass ensemble
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LeoC
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« on: Jan 03, 2017, 04:57PM »

Hello everyone! I come to you with two "questions":

My high school has a play every year done by our drama club. This year the selection is Oliver. My band director suggested I should join the pit orchestra, so I talked to the pit orchestra director and I got the job. I got a glance at the music, and I noticed that most of it is meant to be played on tenor trombone, but there are a few spots where I'm indicated to switch to bass trombone or euphonium. This is my first time being part of a pit orchestra, I'm primarily a euph and bass trombone player, and that I have never heard of this musical before.

Secondly, an older trumpet player invited me to join a brass quintet he's forming. We met in a community band where he plays trumpet and I am one of the two bass trombonists. I have played euphonium and tuba with my high school brass ensembles, which are usually formed by 10+ players and my part was always doubled by 1 or 2 players. I already have the music we will be playing, and it's all from the Canadian Brass Book of Favorite Quintets Intermediate Level. Similar situation with the musical, this is my first time playing with a brass quintet where I am the only one playing my part.

In addition that all that, I am not very good at playing tenor, mainly because my slide technique is not the best (range is not a problem), but I am working to improve it.
I'd appreciate any advice you could give me.
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robcat2075

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« Reply #1 on: Jan 03, 2017, 05:14PM »

High school drama club?  Do it on the horn you are familiar with.

They may put on a fine production but putting it on with all high school students is quite a departure from the original casting so... why do you need to be 100% authentic when they are not?

I did Oliver many years ago.  Must have been a different arrangement because I don't recall any switches to bass trombone or euphonium, but I did it all on my bass trombone even though the book was labeled just "trombone".
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Robert Holmén

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LeoC
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 03, 2017, 05:26PM »


why do you need to be 100% authentic when they are not?


Good point. The play is in 3 months, so maybe I can get used to playing tenor? My only problem is accuracy with the slide

Must have been a different arrangement because I don't recall any switches to bass trombone or euphonium, but I did it all on my bass trombone even though the book was labeled just "trombone".

I think this arrangement is from 2008 but I'm not 100% sure. This arrangement also calls for straight and cup mutes.
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MikeBMiller
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 03, 2017, 05:48PM »

Make sure you get at least 50 bucks a show! :D
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robcat2075

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« Reply #4 on: Jan 03, 2017, 05:55PM »

Do you have any other reason to play a tenor? Apparently not.

Just play the bass and don't even bring the subject up. Again... high school drama club.

It is indeed a famous musical, based on a famous Charles Dickens book.

Lots of strong songs. A traditional classic golden age type of stage musical. You might check out a cast album to get a feel for the style.  There was also a 1968 movie of it.
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BGuttman
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 03, 2017, 07:29PM »

As to the brass quintet, which book did they give you?  The Trombone or the Tuba?

Donald Knaub used to play the trombone book in the Ithaca Brass Quintet on a single valve bass.  It sounded pretty nice.  Good blend when you are against a large tuba.

I wouldn't sweat using tenor.  Just play it on a horn you are comfortable with.
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Bruce Guttman
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LeoC
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 03, 2017, 08:56PM »

As to the brass quintet, which book did they give you?  The Trombone or the Tuba?

I got trombone
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JasonDonnelly
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« Reply #7 on: Jan 03, 2017, 09:01PM »

Use the bass unless the music is so demanding that you can't consistently hit the notes (ie. too high). Then maybe pick up a tenor.
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 03, 2017, 09:35PM »

Use the bass unless the music is so demanding that you can't consistently hit the notes (ie. too high). Then maybe pick up a tenor.

That's what I was thinking. I'll definitely play bass unless I find too many notes above  Tenor Clef . I did actually see a few bars written in tenor clef.

Thank you for all your responses  :)
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BillO
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« Reply #9 on: Jan 03, 2017, 09:45PM »

Most pit work I've done goes above G.  Are you the only trombone?
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« Reply #10 on: Jan 03, 2017, 10:05PM »

Most pit work I've done goes above G.  Are you the only trombone?

I am possibly gonna be the only trombone. I normally play bass on a 2G, so I guess I could switch to a smaller mouthpiece such as a 6 & 1/2 AL or a 5G if it gets too high.
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MrPillow
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« Reply #11 on: Jan 03, 2017, 10:10PM »

It's highly unlikely that anyone could care if you simply took the higher parts down an octave, instead of sacrificing your overall playing quality by using a mouthpiece you're not used to.
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« Reply #12 on: Jan 04, 2017, 05:37AM »

Some people hate pits.  I think they're just about the most fun thing you can ever do, in or out of music.  I would play more of them if there weren't better players around who own those gigs.  The four I've played have been a challenge for endurance and rhythmic accuracy. 

Advice:  listen to recordings.  You need to get the feel of the style, not just play the notes.  There is no recording possible that will exactly match your music because ALL musicals have cuts and no two have them in the same place, but there's no excuse for not knowing the musical itself pretty well long before the first rehearsal.  There will probably be lots of different mutes, some of which you don't have.  You can probably borrow from the band room but it's a high school production and they aren't going to be fanatics.  I've played where the trumpet section was casual about it and so I just matched them - if they played a section all on straight mutes there was no point in me doing fast changes to cup and bucket even if the score called for it.  It's a lot harder for us since we can't play one handed while grabbing the mute. 

Better advice:  see this as a chance to develop the skills that are FAR more important than tone, technique, or range - being easy to get along with.  That will get you called back over guys who play better. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #13 on: Jan 04, 2017, 10:11AM »

Firstly, congratulations on getting to play in the band, as someone else has already said playing pit gigs can be great fun. As someone who spends at least half the year in a pit I definitely agree. Shows can be extremely challenging to play but as far as Oliver goes, it is one of the easier ones. I've played it loads of times but have never played a version with doubling parts so I can't comment on the Euph or Bass bone parts. If you are playing it in school don't worry about playing the book exactly as written and just enjoy it. Some of the doubling books I've played require instrument changes in near impossible amounts of time whilst juggling a full set of mutes in your spare hand. Doubling takes practise and I'm sure your musical director would be happy if you played the part on whatever instrument your most comfortable on and  In most cases the shows are led from a piano conductor score that may not have the instrument changes marked.  Have fun!!
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« Reply #14 on: Jan 04, 2017, 10:22AM »

I think the biggest challenge in playing shows is being adaptable enough that when a performer does something unexpected you are ready.  Things like missing a chorus.  Or singing the tune out of order.  Or missing a line.  Means knowing the book so cold that you are ready in a trice.

Also, keeping track of the cuts and reprises that are not in the book.  I remember they put a section from another song in a "playoff" that required shuffling back a dozen pages to catch.  Sometimes a little time with a good copier can help a lot.
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« Reply #15 on: Jan 04, 2017, 11:56AM »

Oh, and mark your parts in soft pencil, B at least, nothing harder, and erase thoroughly before giving it back.  I use one of those battery powered erasers, about $10 at an office supply store. 
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« Reply #16 on: Jan 04, 2017, 02:34PM »

I think the biggest challenge in playing shows is being adaptable enough that when a performer does something unexpected you are ready.  Things like missing a chorus.  Or singing the tune out of order.  Or missing a line.  Means knowing the book so cold that you are ready in a trice.

Also, keeping track of the cuts and reprises that are not in the book.  I remember they put a section from another song in a "playoff" that required shuffling back a dozen pages to catch.  Sometimes a little time with a good copier can help a lot.

"Man of La Mancha" has this motif that they play every time they open or close a drawbridge. It happens about a dozen times in the show, and the music is only on the first page of the whole book. I was subbing in the bass trombone book one night for a friend and the thing caught me off guard every time. Ended up memorizing the part during the show out of necessity. 
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« Reply #17 on: Jan 04, 2017, 05:35PM »

A lot of the time I used to just copy everything, make my own book and piece it together in order, duplicating bits as required and doing actual cut and paste.
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« Reply #18 on: Jan 04, 2017, 05:42PM »

A lot of the time I used to just copy everything, make my own book and piece it together in order, duplicating bits as required and doing actual cut and paste.

Yup.  It's illegal, but it works.  And I can make markings in color or wide marker on the copy (which I'm probably going to destroy after the gig).
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #19 on: Jan 04, 2017, 08:34PM »

(which I'm probably going to destroy after the gig).
Absolutely!!!
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Never look at the conductor. You just encourage them.

Have you noticed, some folk never stick around to help tidy up after practice?
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