[Trombone-l] Bachelor thesis about bass trombone

Willard (Bill) Riley bill.riley at primus.ca
Sun Apr 2 12:58:41 CST 2017

I used to build and service pipe organs for a living and then turned to 
general administrative work as churches stopped buying them. Now, in the 
third stage of my adult life, I spend most of my time playing brass 
instruments and keyboards, orchestrating and arranging and conducting 
and, sometimes, writing music - sometimes even for pay. In short, an 
"amateur" - but a pretty good one.

I don't quite have the chops YET to play big-band lead trumpet but am 
working on it and sometimes do it anyhow, otherwise playing second 
(flugel included). Or cornet, for Dixieland. Or big band lead or bass 
trombone. Or tuba in a marching band. Or euphonium in a concert band. 
When my sister, in our youth, started learning F/Bb horm, I coached her 
and made sure I could play it, too.

James Morrison, the Australian soloist and bandleader, has been an 
inspiration to me but so are most school music teachers who teach brass 
technique in general and can demonstrate on any of the instruments. I'm 
beginning to teach beginners of various ages in private lessons, and 
very much enjoy seeing them grow in their mastery of their respective 
instruments thanks to the tips each of these instruments has taught me 
through my experience in playing them.

There's no doubt my musical life is much more active because of 
proficiency on more than one instrument. I've found the advantages far 
greater than the cost of extra effort and having more instruments to 
keep track of, and I don't see any reason this wouldn't also be the case 
if I went more thoroughly professional (though I'm a bit long in the 
tooth to attempt that now).

About changing instruments when doubling: I need not only to be 
thoroughly warmed up on each of the instruments I'm going to play on any 
particular occasion, but also to practice moving from one to the other. 
Each has its own requirements for ranges of air velocity (involving both 
aperture dimensions and breath pressure) and of the volume of air needed 
to sustain phrases of various lengths and dynamics. A few long tones, 
flexibility sequences, bits of articulation studies and a phrase or two 
of a tune or excerpt often suffice to anchor in my system the parameters 
for each instrument.

Some of the more challenging things to remember are the idiosyncratic 
tuning adjustments each instrument requires for good intonation, 
particularly for the modes based on the odd-numbered partials (third, 
fifth, seventh and beyond). For instance, a well-tuned, 2nd-position  G 
natural above the bass staff requires moving the slide of my Conn 78H 
almost halfway towards 1st position, whereas the King 2B and my bass 
trombone require much less adjustment. If I fail to remember that when 
playing an exposed, long-held G as part of a C major triad, I'll have 
egg on my face.

But I really love both the beauty and the challenges of brass playing, 
and I'm very grateful for these thought-provoking questions. Have fun 
with the thesis, Kristine!


Willard (Bill) Riley
Montreal QC Canada
bill.riley at primus.ca

On 4/1/2017 20:56, Martin Hubel wrote:

> I played mainly bass trombone from 1972 to 1990. Starting in the 90s, I got
> moved to first bone simply because 2 bass players joined the band during my
> leave of absence.
> For many pros, doubling is necessary as many shows, and this allows the
> player to get paid more. Doubling does get me and others more gigs.
> Ironically, I am known in some circles as a tenor player, and others as a
> bass player.
> Another important aspect is to understand your role in the section based on
> the horn and part you have. Bass bone is a different mindset and approach
> from playing lead, and being a section player is different again.
> I try to play my best on both tenor and bass, and I do not compromise on
> equipment. I mainly play a medium bore .508parhaps tenor with an 11C size
> mouthpiece (Yamaha 891Z with Yamaha Al Kay MP). My bass is a Yamaha 830
> with a Griego .75. I can switch easily between the 2 horns. I also have my
> trusty old 42B if I need a large bore tenor.
> Learning how to play easily, and subsequently to switch easily between bass
> and tenor has been a journey. But that's another topic, or perhaps several
> topics.
> --Martin
> Martin Hubel
> On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 11:04 AM, Price Taylor <pricetaylor at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> I second that Earl. Doubling on bass has made me a better tenor player.
>> I can't recommend it for everyone since some can't switch mouthpieces that
>> easily - which is why Doug Elliott found a niche with making and selling
>> screw-on rims.
>> Price
>> On Mar 29, 2017 7:57 AM, "Earl Needham" <earl.kd5xb at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Kristine, there's one thing I always say --
>>> After spending some time on the Bass Trombone, which takes more air than
>>> any other wind instrument that I know of, even tuba, a person feels like
>>> SUPERMAN when going back to the tenor trombone.  It's just incredible.
>>> Earl Needham
>>> Clovis, New Mexico USA
>>> On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 1:02 AM, Kristine Oppegaard <oppekri at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Thank you so much for all your answers! I needed answer to the
>> questions,
>>>> but it was really nice of some of you to inform me about other works on
>>>> this subject! Hope i'll pass the exam😘
>>>> Best,
>>>> Kristine
>>>> 2017-03-28 16:28 GMT+02:00 Daniel Walker <brasswalker at gmail.com>:
>>>>> Hi Kristine,
>>>>> I'm thinking this is more along the lines of a survey, rather than a
>>>>> request for resources?
>>>>> To answer the questions:
>>>>> 1) Yes, it can have a negative affect on tenor playing in the short
>>> term,
>>>>> but this effect diminishes the longer you work on switching back and
>>>>> forth.  Being primarily a tenor player, I find I have to do more work
>>>>> transitioning to bass to achieve a workable sound than I have to do
>>> when
>>>> I
>>>>> transition back to tenor.  Although it is possible to play both back
>> to
>>>>> back with acceptable results, for optimal performance I find I need a
>>> day
>>>>> or two to make the transition.
>>>>> 2) I play both because I can. Same reason for doubling on euphonium
>> and
>>>>> tuba.  Would not apply to viola. The more things you can do, the more
>>> you
>>>>> will have opportunities to play.  Also, it's fun!
>>>>> 3) I use the Six Notes as a foundation for locking in with the
>>> equipment.
>>>>> After that, the standard assortment of lip slurs and technical
>>>> fundamentals
>>>>> that you would do in any practice session.  I don't have a routine
>>>>> specifically tailored to "making the switch".
>>>>> 4) YES
>>>>> 5) Well, yes, I work on the low range!  Lip slurs, Caruso excercises.
>>>> It's
>>>>> not so much different exercises, but what I do with the ones I always
>>>> use.
>>>>> Mostly, on bass I have to be very concious of not spreading the
>>>> embouchure
>>>>> too much.I  have also found that maintaining (or striving for) a
>> solid
>>>> low
>>>>> register on the tenor carries over to the bass.  I don't do anything
>>>>> fundamentally different chop wise (at least that's what I strive
>> for!)
>>>> so
>>>>> it's mainly about getting comfortable with the different rim sizes.
>>>>> On Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 6:48 AM, Kristine Oppegaard <
>> oppekri at gmail.com
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>> Hi trombone friends!
>>>>>> I am writing my bachelor thesis about learning bass trombone as a
>>> tenor
>>>>>> trombone player and i wonder if there is someone out there who has
>>> gone
>>>>>> through the same process and can answer some questions!
>>>>>> 1. Does it affect your tenor trombone playing negatively or
>> positively
>>>> to
>>>>>> play bass trombone?
>>>>>> 2. Why do you play both?
>>>>>> 3. Do you do any particular excersises or adjustments when you
>> change
>>>>>> between the instruments?
>>>>>> 4. Has it given you more gigs?
>>>>>> 5. Do you do other types of ecxersises on the bass compared to the
>>>> tenor?
>>>>>> Best,
>>>>>> Kristine, student of Gothenburg Music academy
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