Books for the Self Taught

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by 2nd tenor, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Whilst using a good teacher will always be the best route that option isn’t always available. Some of us will be basically self taught with maybe an occasional lesson from either a professional or a more experienced player. After a long gap I re-learnt to play as an adult and liked the steady paced engaging style of the ‘Tune a Day’ books (one and two). After completing those books I never found a natural follow on text for the self taught just plenty of stuff (like Arban) to skilfully run through with a teacher or blunder through by yourself. Much practice, if blundering at times, has just got me a first trombone chair :) in 4[SUP]th[/SUP] section level band – great move, but why did playing 1[SUP]st[/SUP] look easy enough when I played 2[SUP]nd [/SUP]:-?.

    I am wondering what practical and theory ‘teach yourself’ type books people use to advance their playing and what they would recommend as both ENJOYABLE to use and effective.
  2. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    Howard Snell's The Art of Practice is a great book, though not of the play-along type. It's more a book that one reads in order to learn more about how to practice and what to practice. In writing the book, I think he understood your dilemma in that there are millions of books presenting practice routines and exercises, but not that many about the why's and how's of practice. It's an easy read, with short chapters, examples, and some interesting asides. Additionally, when I went to buy it I found it was out of stock, and I got re-directed to Snell's own website ( and he sent it extremely quickly through the post.

    P.S. I just revisited the website and notice he has withdrawn the book, but you can still buy his other book about practice, The Trumpet, for a tenner, and it contains everything the The Art of Practice contained and more besides. I have it as well, and can strongly recommend it for all brass players since 99% of what he says in there is applicable across the bandroom.
  3. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    Barry Green wrote a book called "The Mastery of Music" as a follow up to the Inner game of music, whilst it is not a "how to do music" kind of book, it offers diverse insights into music from a a range of perspectives, it is eel worth reading.
  4. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    I always used to enjoy delving into "Progressive Studies for Trumpet" by John Miller, published by Faber Music. It consists of 30 very entertaining studies, each dealing with a specific aspect of technique or music, which become progressively more challenging as you work your way through the book. Each study has a short note giving tips on how to approach the piece. A number of the studies are written in the style of 20th century composers (e.g. Prokofiev, Strauss, Mahler, Maxwell Davies).

    Big lyrical phrases, exercises in articulation and intervals, irregular time signatures, use of the third slide trigger, lip slurs, playing at low dynamics, transposition, shifting triads, double tonguing - it's all there, and the studies are fun to play. Miller does warn that some of the studies may not be suitable for trombone though - but it would be fun to try!
  5. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

  6. I agree. This is an excellent book.
  7. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for the suggestions so far, much appreciated :).

    Howard Snell's (Trumpet) book seems to be only available (now) from his web site - pretty much sold out elsewhere. The book has some very positive 'reviews' by professional players like Steve Mead, its' not just for Trumpet players so I'll 'invest' in a copy.

    In with a collection of books I purchased off of ebay came a copy of Millers Progressive Studies for Trumpet. When I worked through it a few years ago some of the later 'exercises' seemed to require too fast a slide action so it was put to one side and then forgotten about for a further period whilst I was playing bass clef only music - I find it hard to flip between treble and bass clefs, another skill to work on.

    With your encouragement, I'll be looking at Miller's book again but with 'fresh eyes', and a fast(er) slide action's not a bad skill to work on too.

    In general it seems that music and teaching material is much more plentiful for Trumpet and Cornet players. Makes me wonder whether I shouldn't be considering what benefits there might be in getting one for practice support at home. Maybe an intermediate model Cornet (like the Jupiter 520 ?) would allow me some useful overlap and improved flexibility, and apparently using the two very different sizes of mouthpiece isn't a issue to be concerned about. Any thoughts on that too?
  8. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    Wright and Round Complete Method was a good book to work from. Should be available from most good music shops. Worked well for me.
  9. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    As a youth I used Complete Method under the direction of a teacher. As far as I know Complete Method is still available direct from Wright and Round as a spiral bound copy of the original. I have both an original copy – held together by much selotape – and the spiral bound. There was a trombone specific version – with distinctive grey cover as I recall – but that has disappeared and when asked the (then) current W & R staff had no knowledge of it.

    Yes CM is rightly well regarded but, and this is in my personal experience, it’s not a ‘teach yourself’ type book. However, if you have previously completed the tunes towards its back with a teacher (few are easy and I didn’t) then I suspect it could work well as a practice aid. As an adult I used Otto Langey’s Trombone Method in preference to W&R’s book but again my experience is of really needing a teacher to assist you with say 50+ % of the tunes.

    In the absence of anything better I have resorted to development through playing compilations of unaccompanied music. It’s good for the site reading and often you’ll find a tricky piece that challenges at the right level for you – like Sheep May Safely Graze, Bach, arranged in ‘A’ (that's simply three sharps to the likes of me) in Tone-ups for Tenor Trombone by Adrian Morris – which leaves you a happy and better player when you (eventually) master it :). Currently on my stand is 50+ Easy Classical Solos for Trumpet (by Wise Publications) – for me some of the pieces are easy and some aren’t , but I’m really enjoying the ‘learning by doing’ through use of it – and of course Great Winners by Brass Wind Publications is another classic book to enjoy and learn through .... must revisit it and polish some of the tunes towards its back.

    Unfortunately ‘Tune a Day Volumes three and four’ are unwritten but in their absence all suggestions are welcome.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  10. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    Glyn Williams has proven that it's not a problem at all, kitchen sink and all:
  11. CoopErQuiet

    CoopErQuiet New Member

    I used Howard Snell's The Trumpet and found it was a well written book.
  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Totally incredible, what a performer! :clap: Thanks for the post :).

    I definitely think the Cornet idea has more legs now. They are light, relatively easy on air and in the same key (Bb) as the trom. Second hand the Jupiters aren't that expensive but still good enough for the back row in the bottom sections?
  13. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    Based on the recommendations on this thread I ordered the ebook version of Howard Snells "The Trumpet - Its practice and performance" from the Howardsnellmusic web-page.

    If you do the same, you should be aware that they have some difficulties with their PayPal solution right now. I got a confirmation from PayPal that the payment had been made, but got no mail from webshop about my purchase. After using their contact formula about the missing mail (which apparantly also has some isues, since I didn't get any reply there either), I contacted them directly today by email, and got a very friendly reply back. After we tried to make the purchase again with the same result, Howard Snell made the effort of personally sending the copy to me.
    So if you don't get an instant reply from the webshop when you have made the purchase, just contact them directly by mail.

    Now I am so exited about getting to read the book - and equally exited that Howard Snell is also writing a book about conducting :D.

    Cheers Erik
  14. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    The recent thread by phil3822 reminded me of this one that I started some months earlier and it seems appropriate to post my experience since then as a way of thanking those that contributed and perhaps information for others in a similar situation. Some comments are already on Phil’s thread:

    Just to refresh the key points I play the Tenor Trombone at around grade five to six level and by sheer ‘good luck’ fell into a First Trombone seat in a Concert band. This old bloke is finding that that seat takes more filling than he anticipated.

    Since the thread’s last post I’ve continued using much of the mix of books I described earlier (in this thread) but have added to that mix the suggested ‘Progressive Studies’. That book has been worked through from front to back and in a roughish sort of way I’ve done all the exercises, now I’m starting the book again and notice quite an improvement in what the earlier ones sound like. It seems to be a Goldilocks book, not too hard (I expect to eventually near ‘master’ near all of it) and not too easy. Goldilocks books are hard to find and hard for others to recommend.

    My range and pitching has improved with the scale and articulation exercises in Otto Langey’s Trombone Method. With a warmed up but not tired lip I can now (usually) produce a top C here at home and my tone has also improved – but if called for in the band room a top C is unlikely to arrive. The other books I mentioned add sight reading to the ‘work out’ and using a metronome and tuner forces me to play with greater precision – there’s always something to play better or technique to improve. Adapting what you have is a trick Trumpet Mike suggested (elsewhere) and I’m thinking about trying to shift some simple tunes into other octaves and /or displacie them by a few tones.

    Phil’s thread prompted me to review the way I’m practicing generally. A core part of my practice work is in Langey’s tutor book and in future I expect to be working from many more different sets of exercises in it in any one practice session. Trumpet Mike’s comments on Phils’s thread give me some interesting ‘Gems’ of wisdom to consider, some of them are contextual so they’re there to find rather than direct statements. I also have taken note of Gordon H’s advice (elsewhere) to build skills rather than repertoire, so I’m looking at skills first whilst trying to ensure I can (and do) deliver the required repertoire.

    The current arrangements are working, in that some progress is being made, so they will continue. I also plan to add regular if infrequent lessons too to help me make those last few steps towards what I can reasonably hope to achieve. That planned direction aside if anyone does have has any fresh ideas (i.e. Tittles or points not already mentioned in the thread) then please do add them below for the benefit of all.

    Thanks again, for help on this thread and my others, and Season’s Greetings, 2T.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  15. kevmogs

    kevmogs New Member

    Hi, if you will excuse the dreadful self promotion you could look at my tutor here:
    It is a way of practicing that can be applied to any other material you choose and has been well received so far (early days yet!)
    Also, look at the Peter Gane Circuit Training books from Warwick Music which are have some great exercises in.
    A great general brass book is Chase Sanborn's Brass Tactics which is funny, entertaining and is an encyclopaedia of how to play a brass instrument.
  16. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    Self promotion (of your book) excused. I see that you have sold out of the bass clef vesion (so someone already thinks it's good) and that treble clef copies are available for £10 inc P&P. Tempting and if David Whitehouse of the London Philharmonic thinks it's good then that's as good a recommendation as you get.

    Any other ideas from anyone?
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014

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