Left-handed trombone players...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by andyp, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    My wife has just started teaching a kid of about 8 to play the trombone. As he's left-handed he assembled the trombone "back to front" ie bell piece over right shoulder, slide in left hand. On the face of it this seems fine, but as I'm only a cornet player (and my wife euph) I thought I'd ask if there are likely to be any problems doing this?
    If not, should we perhaps encourage left-handed people to play the trombone, as it must be the only brass instrument that can be set up for both right and left-hand use without major plumbing alterations! I know left handed people "manage" to play right-handed instruments, but maybe an instrument that can easily be made left-handed properly is better?
  2. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    We did have a guy play with us on a trip to Germany a couple of years ago who played trom left handed - he was a part-time fireman and was alaawys referred to as the fart-time pieman - sorry :D

    Seriously though, if he learns left handed he will not be able to play a triggered trombone in the future when he realizes that bass trom is the best part in a band :)
  3. Tromgod

    Tromgod Member

    He may also have to turn the trom upside down to blow water out too!
  4. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

  5. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    He will have a problem if he ever wants to use triggers or a bass trombone. I suggest he learns to play the instrument with his right hand as the slide hand in order to avoid expensive custom instruments later on.
  6. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    When I first picked up and assembled a trombone I set it up and played it "left-handed"... I'm a right handed person... but I liked playing it left handed.... :)
  7. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    I think it would be best to start him off the right-handed way round, because it's more than likely that if he sticks with the instrument, he'll have to change round at some point...
  8. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Better to have him switch to right-handed sooner rather than later. I've known a couple of left-handed trombonists, but they have all had the means to afford custom-built instruments.
  9. Sharpy

    Sharpy Member

    As a Trombone player I agree with the comments about triggers and Bass Trombones, however....

    If he's comfortable playing left handed why not leave him be? He may find that if he changes to right handed it might be more comfortable but if he gets on ok playing left handed then it may put him off if you ask him to change. It didn't do Jimi Hendrix any harm playing his guitar the wrong way up and left handed!! The only other time he would have problems playing left handed would be if he wanted a career in Military music and then he would have to play right handed.
  10. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    Well, outside of jazz most modern pieces for trombone often require the extended lower range afforded by a trigger. I don't think you'd get far as a budding pro without being able to use one because you were taught how to hold the instrument incorrectly!
  11. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    This is kind of surprising to me, because I know many professional orchestral (tenor) trombonists who consider use of a trigger "cheating" and bad for the sound. Are you talking about solo work?

    Unrelated military band trombone anecdote: Back in the 1970s, there was a US Air Force general who saw the US Air Force Band play. A couple of weeks later the conductor received an angry letter from said general complaining about the "unmilitary" trombone section which could not seem to move their slides at the same time. It took some time to convince the general that trombones playing the different parts might have slides in different positions, be playing a different rhythm, etc.
  12. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    Not really, I haven't met an orchestral trombonist (in the UK) who doesn't have an F trigger trombone in their collection. Modern tenor trombone writing (in the orchestra) can include low Eb, D, Db and C, which are unobtainable on a straight trombone. If players like Lindberg and Alessi and UK trombonists like Chris Houlding use triggers there must be a reason!

    And as for a "bad sound" I have heard this from quite a few older trombonists, but I have yet to hear any evidence for this either from the concerts / recitals I have attended or the recordings I have listened to.
  13. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    As an aside, Rugby Salvation Army band used to have a left-handed Eb Bass.

    It was made for a player who lost the use of his right arm, all a long time before I can remember but has anyone come accross any other left handed instruments?
  14. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    aye, I've seen a French Horn or two on my travels.....
    ..oh, and other european rotary valve instruments are sometimes have valves on the left!!

    .. also I've seen a set of left hand timp sticks once... they were made specially for the player I believe...
  15. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I've only ever heard bad sounds from bad trombone players.....
  16. doubleplug

    doubleplug New Member

    Right handed player palying Bass trom lefthanded!

    Finally a thread where I can offer some constructive advice from experience!

    Some seven years ago after scrap with a circular saw, which I ultimately lost, I picked up my first trombone. Having previously played Eb and Bb cornet I needed an instrument that I could support with my right hand and play with my left as the scrap left me with 3 1/2 fingers and 1/2 a thumb - Yuk!:shock: . The trombone was fine but I wanted to play the bass trombone - best instrument in the band bar none. After a bit of trial and error found that the Bach was the only double plug that could be easily adjusted for left hand use. Of it went to Rath Trombones and hey presto, sorted.

    Only issues I can see which shouldn't effect a natural left handed player is a very lazy left arm and getting the positions spot on.

    Anyway looking forward to splashing in on Dances and Arias in a couple of weeks where I will take great pride in being the only righted handed left handed playing bass trombone player.
    Perhaps there should be a special award? :)

    TIMBONE Active Member

    As far as I am aware, with a handful of exceptions (no pun intended) all classically trained violinists play right handed.
  18. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    All three of the solo cornets in St Agnes (including myself) are left-handed, but we all play right-handed cornets the right-handed way. One of our third cornets is also left-handed and plays a right-handed cornet the left-handed way, which looks pretty weird - but the strangest thing I've come across is that we used to have a right-handed bloke on the front row who played a left-handed cornet the left-handed way...no idea how that one happened!! :-?
  19. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    You've actually listed two others in your first paragraph:

    1) Custom modification (at some expense I'll wager) is needed for you to play your instrument (plus if one gets a poor job done then one could ruin the instrument). Young players or parents might not have the money to afford such a modification and to hire a replacement instrument while the modification is being carried out.

    2) The only instrument you could play was a Bach, this instrument might not be the best instrument for all players.
  20. doubleplug

    doubleplug New Member


    1. Rath Troms were great. The only soldering mod required was to move the F triger to the opposite side of the support bar and add/delete the linkages so the valve turned correctly. The bach still used rotary valves so the mod was fairly easy (Thayer valves I suspect practically impossible). As regards costs - minor relative to the cost of the instrument with a turnaround of 4-5 days.

    2. I Take your point on the Bach. It was the valve setup that dictated the purchase as much as anything else.

    Real issue on the topic has to be whether one is naturally left or right handed. For trombone players this will dictate the relaltive strength of the slide arm (laziness) and the brains ability set the correct position without the player having to continualy adjust by sight.

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