Rookie Bass Trombone

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by merv, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. merv

    merv Member

    Hi All
    Registered here some time ago but I don't think I introduced but can't be sure.
    After 30 years on tuba took up bass trombone last year as I have a finger problem and find a valve instrument increasingly difficult. Am still playing tuba and running bass bone in tandem and must say the different clefs can be confusing. Anyhow still pressing ahead with enthusiasm.
    Merv
     
  2. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Good afternoon, Merv - and welcome!

    I can well believe that playing both bass and treble clefs could take some getting use to - but I hope that you'll find, after a while, that your muscle memory will kick in, and simply translate; i.e., when playing tuba, "that dot there equals 1st and 2nd valves", and, when playing bass trombone, "that dot there equals 2nd position".

    Having recently switched from baritone (Bb) to tenor horn (Eb), due to breathing problems, I can sympathise; but hang in there, buddy - it will come!

    Best regards,
    Jack
     
  3. merv

    merv Member

    Hi Jack thanks for the encouragement. I play with three brass bands (or 21/2 probably) in Northern Ireland. BB flat bass in two of them but the third has allowed me now to sit permanently on bass trombone after a years hard home practice which is my long term aim. The other two won't let me for various legitimate reasons.
    I can still physically handle the tuba with minor discomfort but am a reasonable player but feel I should ditch it as it may be impeding my trombone progress. I genuinely don't know if this is a valid argument. I would love to keep both instruments running in tandem and would if I can convince myself it's not doing any harm. I'm retired and 73 and I'm told it's great for the brain to make it struggle a bit. Mind you humping the BB around is a pain and the wife would love to see it go as we live in an apartment. It's not Black Dyke I'm playing for so maybe shouldn't worry too much about playing two instruments moderately well rather than one very well.
    Will struggle on prevaricating and thanks for the chat and advice
    Merv
     
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  4. Welcome merv. I'm also a BBb bass player who is learning to play trombone. Only differences are I'm returning to bass after a long (very long) layoff.....and I'm learning the bone in treble clef. So that I can relate more easily between valve fingerings on the Bass and equivalent bone slide positions. It's going well so far. I'd much prefer to be an average trombonist rather than a mediocre Bassist.
     
  5. merv

    merv Member

    Well Stan I started with tenor trombone but after two weeks I felt bass was in my blood so went for bass bone. Also the tenor mouthpiece was that bit too small compared to the tuba. Mind you the bass bone mouthpiece is relatively small too compared to a Bach 12 BB!
    Are you running both instruments together or bone only?
    Merv
     
  6. Running both instruments together. Played bass at band practice tonight and will tootle on the bone during the week. The change of mouthpieces is 'interesting'.
     
  7. merv

    merv Member

    I nearly wish that I hadn't gone onto bass clef. I feel that if both instruments were treble clef I might be keener on keeping both going. Trouble is bass is in my blood. BB tuba and also sing bass in male voice choir so why not bass trombone?
     
  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I know what you mean, Merv; though I'm starting to get to grips with playing tenor horn, now, baritone was the first brass instrument I tried, and as soon as I got one half-way decent note out of it, I was totally hooked. Much as I like the sound of a tenor, it's just a little bit too sweet for my taste - whereas the baritone is just that bit more gutsy. Although the euph is in much the same pitch range, it's, again, just that bit too sweet for my taste. A rough analogy; euph = Robert Redford; baritone = Clint Eastwood!
    :D

    As my breathing is steadily improving, and regular playing is probably helping at least as much as the inhaler I've been prescribed, I do hope that eventually I will be able to revert to baritone - even though it would mean getting used to Bb instead of Eb . . . ah, well; I think it would be a price worth paying!

    Oh, yes, Stan - any day! That's why I quit working as a fireman on a steam railway when I got to my late 50s, and worked on becoming a competent signalman instead. If it is possible for me to revert to playing baritone, in due time, I'll go for it. But, if my choice in the long run is between being a decent tenor horn player (or even an average one), or a mediocre baritone player, I'll stick with the tenor.

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
  9. Can I just clarify. I'd really like to be a 'fantastic' trombone player and a 'great' Bass player. The describing words that I have used such as average and mediocre are rather subjective and are used entirely in the context of my personal appraisal of my own dexterity on a brass instrument.
     
  10. merv

    merv Member

    That's my point Stan. Should I ditch BB tuba and concentrate on bass trombone probably with obvious dividends or should I continue to play both with lesser expertise. I genuinely don't know. Because I've started trombone so late I tend to think there's an urgency about getting a move on. At the moment I'm required on both instruments and that helps my self esteem
    Great to hear Jack that your breathing is improving. I always assumed that playing a wind instrument
    enhanced ones lung capacity due to breathing deeply and taking in much air as possible. Keep playing
     
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  11. It's a tough call but I don't see any reason why we can't play both instruments. It's a win/win situation I reckon. The way I see the situation is that I enjoy having my tootle on the Bass in band practice twice a week. I enjoy the playing and the camaraderie and social aspect too. I wouldn't wish to give it up...and there are players of all abilities in the band. All I'm trying to do is learn another instrument while I'm doing this. This situation is so much better/positive than someone learning an instrument without the 'benefit' of already being able to play another instrument with a band. I'm starting to ramble on a bit now.
    All musical experience is good experience. Keep doing both Merv. It would be a shame to drop one instrument. Just add 'multi instrumentalist' to your cv. I know lots of players can play many valved instruments....but not so many can play a valved AND slide trombone. Play both Merv.
     
  12. Blades4Ever

    Blades4Ever Member

    Welcome to the "dark side" Merv.

    I returned to playing Bass Trombone 3 years ago, after a 22 year break. I'm loving playing again ... I'm sure you will learn to love the "Beaaaaaast"!!!!
     
  13. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Oh, I did understand that, Stanley - and I agree that there's no intrinsic reason why anyone can't learn to play two instruments, even two as different as valved brass and slide brass. And, even if I never get beyond playing with my band's junior section, I'll still be happy to play with them.

    As for 'something different', I've just picked up a rather nice electric bass guitar on E-bay, in 'one careful owner, never raced or rallied' condition, and at a very fair price - 'Smoke on the Water', here I come!! :cool:

    Best regards,
    Jack
     
  14. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I can appreciate that needing to be able to read bass clef as well as treble clef is inevitably more complicated than just learning one - but then, I understand that many orchestral players have to learn to play both, as do students studying for their Grade exams. But I don't see why, with practise and time, you won't manage both. As I said, above, the fact that you play a valved instrument in treble clef, and a slide instrument in bass clef may actually help matters; I think having to read a note in the bottom space on the stave as one combination of valves in treble clef, and a completely different combination in bass clef would be a lot trickier to master. And this story may give you some encouragement.

    It's a very common occurrence when talking to radio amateurs to hear "I tried to learn Morse Code, but I never got past 10 words a minute." And frequently people who say that will insist that it wouldn't have made any diference how long they'd kept practising, they never would have got it. Yet an article I read by a radio instructor proved otherwise. The writer was a radio amateur in the 1930s, when being able to send and receive Morse Code at 15 words per minute was essential in order to qualify for a full licence. When the war broke out, and the armed forces needed Morse operators in tens of thousands, there weren't sufficient trainers in the forces, so this amateur was one of many drafted in to help them.

    Bear in mind, with the sheer numbers of people being called up and enlisting, it was impossible to sort through each recruit's background history to take advantage of previous experience. The call-up clerks had enormous lists of names, and so if the Royal Army Service Corps said they needed 400 drivers, and the Royal Signals said they needed 600 radio operators, the first 400 recruits were sent to the RASC to train as drivers, and the next 600 sent to the Signals to become radio ops. The result was that some recruits with radio experience became drivers, or cooks - and others with driving experience became clerks or armourers! But with no means of collating all the info on that many people, it was unavoidable.

    So this radio instructor ended up teaching Morse Code, right through the war, to as wide a range of people as you can imagine - most of whom had never even seen a Morse key before, let alone used one. Out of the thousands of people the man trained, do you know how many failed to reach the required standard? He couldn't remember the exact figure, but said "it was less than half a dozen!"

    The secret was, of course, that the Army was in a position to say "You WILL practise Morse for this many hours a day, six days a week, for the full length of the course. Or didn't you know there's a war on?"

    As regards your point about "playing both with lesser expertise", I don't really see that as an issue - as long as you have sufficient time to practise on both, there's no reason why you can't reach your potential on both; as my story above makes clear, sufficient practise will overcome many obstacles.

    I can appreciate that - as I started aged 68 on brass, and am starting at 70 on bass guitar! But being older frequently means you have more time to practise, and less pressure than younger learners, who try and fit practise and lessons in with school or college studies, career-building, mating rituals (a.k.a. partying, pubbing and clubbing!), looking after small children, etc, etc . . .

    Yep - after my by-pass op, the physio stressed how important it was for me to do regular deep-breathing using my diaphragm, rather than just my rib-cage. I explained about how you have to breathe in order to play brass, even at pp, and she said it would be hard to find anything more beneficial to my recovery :)

    She also said how unusual it was for her to deal with a patient who knew how to use their diaphragm effectively; "In many cases", she said "people don't even know they've got a diaphragm, let alone what it's for!" :rolleyes:

    With best regards,
    Jack
     
  15. merv

    merv Member

    That's all very interesting Jack. I think that tackling something 'difficult' is probably very beneficial for keeping our grey matter active. We're always being told that more mature people need to keep their brains active so the way I look at it is switching every other day from one clef to the other is making my brain work harder, hopefully with benefits. At least my wife tells me so. I suppose I'm lucky that I have seats on both instruments albeit in lower section bands. Mind you I'm not practising tuba at all, just the trombone daily. Don't think I could tolerate both (nor the wife)
    Best wishes on your guitar ventures you'll be in drainpipes and blue suede shoes soon
    Merv
     
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  16. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I agree, Merv - speaking for myself, if I don't do something of that sort on a daily basis, I can feel myself gradually sinking into a comatose state; as our American cousins put it: "The lights are on - but nobody's home!"

    Sorry, Merv - they were before my time!! I picked up the tail end of Buddy Holly, but what really got me into rock music was the Beatles, then Tamla Motown, the the great British blues revival of the late 60s . . . it all seems . . . not so much a long time ago . . . more like it actually happened to somebody else . . . who had very dark hair with red highlights in it, rather than 'arctic blonde' . . . and who lived on another planet, in a galaxy far away . . . :(

    Ah, well; as an old friend of mine pointed out, once:
    "Young bikers know they're immortal; old bikers know they're not - so they don't give a damn!"
    :cool:

    And this was me at an intermediate stage; the Harley was mine, the nipper had been 'helping' me wash it!

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    I believe little Pete (as was) is now over 6 foot tall and about 30 years old . . . :rolleyes:

    With best regards,

    Jack
     
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