Trombone Beginner Advice Needed Please

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Di B, Jan 3, 2004.

  1. Di B

    Di B Member

    Hi all,

    A question... I have a student who wishes to learn trombone! Now, once I had stopped shaking in panic I decided to learn the basic trombone slide positions (now done!) and take it from there.

    The problem I have is that this player would primarily like to play in jazz/dance bands once they can play. This, I believe is all written in bass clef for trombone but is in written in Bb or in C? (I assume it would be in C as everything bar brass band music is?!)

    Now, I am a euph player. I can play treble clef, and at a push I can slowly read bass clef, but I was taught it in Bb (ie you see a C in bass clef on a part and I know it as a D for euphonium)

    So, what clef is the best one to start the player off in? I am currently thinking treble as this is the one I know best, and there are short cuts when it comes to learning tenor clef.

    Also, when I come to teaching bass clef, how should I teach it? Should I teach a C in bass clef as a D on trombone or do I teach a C in bass clef as a C that is played on 3rd position? (Obviously if I taught treble clef first the latter may become confusing!) It doens't make any difference on notation, just the names of the notes, but I am not sure of any future repurcussions!

    Any advice, particularly from trom players who play with many styles of bands would be welcome.

    Oh, of course, it goes without saying that my aim is to convert him to brass bands too! :)

  2. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    It's all in C in bass clef, I've played in big bands before. I think I'm right in thinking that all music written in bass clef is concert pitch, all the music I've read is! :)

    As for clef, if they primarily wanting to play in jazz bands then maybe it's just best off teaching them bass clef so they know all the notes in concert pitch. Afterall, the only real time trombonists read treble clef is in brass bands. In jazz, dance, big bands, orchestras and wind orchestras, they'll read bass clef.

    For a trombonist I've always seen treble clef myself as something you learn after getting bass clef. With something like euphonium it might be wiser in that case to learn treble clef first as almost all modern music for that instrument (including brass bands) is in treble, where bass clef can be learnt later to accomodate the wind orchestra scene and (occasional) orchestral scene.
  3. trombelle

    trombelle Member

    i learnt treble first and now im slowly, VERY slowly, learning bass clef for the simple reason that although i started in brass bands where treble was the most common clef i now also play in jazz groups, orchestras etc in college, where most, if not all music is in bass clef.
    i guess learning both would be ideal but i can tell you from experience that, as a young and fairly new player (well, 6-7 years.....thats new in brass bands neway!) that learning both could actually make your students' head explode :shock: which as well as causing an unsightly mess, this would leave the world with one less trombone player... :cry:

    realise ive rambled but JEEZ i hate bass clef!!! apologese!!! xxxx (SP!)
  4. Di B

    Di B Member

    Think thats the problem - I need to teavh both, but it is what comes first!

    The additional problem teaching bass clef in C is my own pitching..... he would play a C as a C for him in 4th position. I would know he would be playing a D but I would need to be careful not to call it a D or I could confuse him more!

    Treble clef is useful to know for the conversion to tenor - I guess it is just a case of how to teach him in the easiest possible manner so confusion is minimal in later stages

    Oh, and I feel exactly the same about bass clef trombelle! ;-)
  5. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    There is some transposing stuff in bass clef - anything for w*nd band published by Molenaar comes with C and transposing bass clef parts for the low brass, for example. But yes, all big band stuff will be in C bass clef - also, even when it goes high it doesn't change into tenor clef, so there are often 3 or 4 leger lines above the staff. There's no reason why you couldn't write transposing music in any clef you wanted.

    I have come across non-transposing treble clef (i.e. everything is a 9th higher than it looks to a brass band player) in some editions of orchestral Mozart works. Only rarely, though.

  6. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    I don't think it really matters which you learn first.

    Just learn what is required for where you want to play. Once you have reached a decent standard learning another clef is only like learning a new key signature.

    I started on tenor horn, played a bit of frnch horn then moved (UPWARDS OF COURSE) to trombone, first in treble, and then (I HAVE FOUND THE HOLY GRAIL) bass clef.

    IF they want to play in a wind band start them on bass clef and once they come to their senses and want to play in abrass band they will pick up treble without too many problems i'm sure.
  7. Despot

    Despot Member

    If you want to go with bass clef, just get a "Tune a Day" for trombone, bass clef, (or similar, they're all good) and get him to work through that. It'll buy you some time while you get used to dealing with an unfamiliar clef.

    Is this an adult beginner? Sounds like it, a child normally wouldn't specify why he or she wants to learn an instrument. If it is, he probably doesn't really know what he wants! (Lots of experience of adult beginners! Sounds familiar :wink: )

    My own advice is start him on what you're comfortable on, treble. The most important part is getting the breathing, blowing etc right. Changing clefs is not a hard as it seems! :D

    And don't panic! :D
  8. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    I was talking about my own experiences as a trombone player, which are far fewer than my experiences as a euphonium player, so I wouldn't know as much. Thanks for the input!
  9. Space Cowboy

    Space Cowboy Member

    As a trombonist who started to play in brass bands but also plays in big bands, wind bands and orchestras I would advise learning base clef first as it is used for the majority of the time outside of brass bands. Bflat treble clef is very restrictive particularly if your student has indicated no desire to play in a brass band.

    It really sounds like you should attempt to find your pupil a trombone teacher though rather than forcing your limitations as a trombonist onto him/her. Sorry.
  10. Railybobs

    Railybobs Member

    At a gig in Salford some years ago I took time to look at the brass parts, and the troms were written in C Bass Clef. any help?
  11. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    I'm sorry, but I'm a tad bit zonked here. If reading Treble clef for B flat trombone, C is always in 1st. If reading Bass clef in B Flat, C is also in 1st. If reading BC in Concert, then C is 3rd or 6th, or trig 1st......where does 4th come into it?

    Bass clef trombone is always in C.....supposedly to keep in check witrh all the other instruments (like you'd wanna be the same as a bassoon????), and when you start learning the orchestral clefs of alto and tenor, they're also in Concert.

    But I think the point was hit earlier....go get A tune A Day, or one of the American Band Methods. Standard of Excellence is the recommended text over here at the moment. It ain't too crash hot, but it really is peasy to comprehend.
  12. Hilary Mateer

    Hilary Mateer Member

    Had a bad experience with music written in bass clef last year :(

    I had agreed to dep for Tideswell and luckily had managed to get to a rehearsal.
    W got a piece of music out published by a Dutch company - can't remember what is was.
    I looked fairly easy so I just glanced at the key signature and we started playing it.
    Horror! my notes didn't fit. Was I mispitching? Was I playing the wrong piece (has been known :( ).
    Checked the key signature again and noticed it was in bass clef.
    No problem I thought, as I play in a wind band as well.
    Still didn't fit - just then the guy next to me indicated that I should turn my music over and it was printed in treble clef on the other side :twisted:

    I checked after why it had not fitted when I played it in Bass Clef - It was it was written transposed for an Eb bass even though it was in bass clef and not in C as I would have expected.

    I have come across this at wind band as well but it has not caught me out there as I am half expecting it. (and I can play it if I get my brain in the right gear in advance)

    Does anyone know why Music is printed like this? Who would play it written transposed in bass clef, and how had it got into some brass band music :?:
  13. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    You quite often find this in music printed on the continent, particularly older copies, and you may find it written either as Eb or Bb transposing. Always best to check what key signatures the other parts are in, and work it out from there. One possibility is that they may have been thinking of writing the same part for bass clarinet, frequently written in bass clef but sounding down a tone.
  14. Di B

    Di B Member

    Funnily enough - I have suggested just that to the player!!! He however, is adamant he wants lessons from me - probably due to recommendations. Even with this, I think once he has learnt the basics I am going to chat to a few friends of mine and get him with someone who is a reasonable trombone player and teacher with the knowledge of jazz and dance bands that he wants to look at joining. I am very restricted as a teacher of trombone and am only too aware of this, although I know that as I have been totally honest with him on my limitations and he still wants to go ahead it will certainly provide me with a good, if not quick learning curve!!!

    As for not panicking.... how can people tell I am panicking by my typing?! (HELLLLP!!!!) :lol:

    Okiedokie - my error - I had meant to type 3rd position - apologies for any confusion! :)
  15. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    ahhhhhhhhhh, sweet clarity......thanks Di
  16. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    Transposing bass cleef parts? That would just warp my mind cause when I read bass clef I'm effectively transposing in my own mind anyway.
  17. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    The Answer.....

    Teach in Bass Clef in C. Tell them this is Concert Pitch. therefore a C is a C is a C, no messing. Then you say that brass instruments are all generally in Bb. that is the natural key of the instrument. Which is why the chord of Bb is in first position, or open valves on the Cornet/Trumpet/Clarinet etc. That way they learn why things are different.

    I learnt in Bass Clef, and then had to learn Bb treble when joining a band. I think it is far easier to understand the3 reason for tranposition and how transposing instruments work if you learn in concert pitch.

    Final argument for is that if you take your pupil to a piano and get them to play middle C, this is a C in concert pitch.
  18. Di B

    Di B Member

    Cheers Tim - good advice! I think my main concern/panic was my own limitations. I only know how to read bass clef in Bb as such so I can play on euph and am aware that it will be difficult to get my head around the differences between playing in Bb and C.

    There does seem to be more benefit generally though for them playing bass clef first, so I think I might refresh my memory along with them by using a tune a day! :oops:

    Many thanks for all the help - just one more question though... at what stage would you think it appropriate to begin to introduce a new clef? I know I was taught bass clef basics for my grade 3.... anyone any thoughts?

  19. this is an interesting discussion....

    I started out as a euphonium player in brass bands and took up trombone a few years ago to give me more opportunities, since then i have played in orchestras and i would love to give jazz band/dance band/wind band playing a go, given the chance! I learned bass clef to start with, and also play in tenor quite a bit although i am having trouble getting to grips with treble clef Bb. I would like to learn just in case i ever need it, but I am reluctant to have to "pretend it's tenor clef and add 2 sharps..." or whatever the trick is but can't quite get my head round calling the same note different things......Any advice would be welcome!
    On a similar idea, i play a tenor trombone with one trigger, yet being a bass clef reader can only play bass trombone parts at band - is this a bad idea? Should they be left to "real" bass trombones or is it not important?
    Thankyou! :D
  20. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    I've been in bands where there have been tenor trombone players playing bass clef parts, and for the better players, it certainly is possible. I don't know how much it's recommended though since my trombone is triggerless and so I've only ever played tenor trombone parts.

Share This Page