Where are they all?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by TORBAY BRASS BAND, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. Interesting thread recently on valved trombones, came about due to a band having similar problem to mine. We have not been able to fill our principal trombone seat with a regular player for some time. Are trombone players only to be bred in captivity? is there a shortage of teachers about? do they only want to play in jazz/orchestral groups? Are they only mercenary when it comes to playing - petrol expenses are not enough? Coincidentally I did find some rocking horse droppings recently which seem easier to find than a trombone player!
  2. JAlexK

    JAlexK New Member

    Just catching up on some threads, so a bit late to this.

    Could this be an area thing?
    I play in the west London area.
    Both the bands I play for have more than 3 troms "on the books", which is useful for ensuring we have a full band for most gigs.

    The band nearest to home (Watford) have 5 names on their website.

    I've never felt this area has a shortage - I rarely seem to see people asking for deps on trom around here either.

    Just my (limited) experience, so do other see something similar in their area?
  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    we are still looking for a tenor trombone player at Brackley.

    Do most youngsters learn bass clef now?
  4. katieeuph

    katieeuph Member

    THis is not in any way meant as a criticism of the brass teaching, but in my last school, the trombones were all started off learning bass clef. The players found it easier to play the parts in wind band rather than brass band (though I often got round it by rewriting parts or getting them to play bass trom parts). I did find they were often steered towards Wind Bands/Orchestras, but this was not always the case by any means, particulasly when we brought in a trombone specialist just to teach the trombones.
  5. JAlexK

    JAlexK New Member

    From the bit of teaching I do with North London Brass I'd say that all schools seem to start them on bass clef.
    If I had to guess why, I'd say that most peripatetic teachers are from an orchestral background, and most schools would be looking for players for their own orchestra / wind band.

    This isn't to say that you can't do both, and I've seen several 14 - 17 year olds who can read 3 or 4 clefs quite well.
    I do think some, especially younger players, are put off when they turn up and get offered Bflat treble 2nd trom or bass trombone when they only play a little yamaha and have only been taught bass clef.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to keep them interested? I'm loathe to tell them to go away and learn TC, as they won't have much motivation to do so. Taking them back to basics to teach them TC might also demotivate them.

    My plan so far has been to let them play bass trom for a bit and give them work to do on learning tenor clef, with the idea that (a) tenor -> treble is more straightforward and (b) it's going to be useful anyway if they want to play trombone.

    Anyone got a better plan than this? An easy way to motivate / teach young trommers to learn treble clef?
  6. JRH

    JRH Member

    Maybe a solution would be to just have brass band arrangements printed with parts trombone in both clefs? Seems a few sheets of extra paper would be a simple answer.
  7. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    Well spotted. There is an extreme shortage of trombonists, not just in brass bands.

    As Jack Higgins (agent) once told Don Lusher (paraphrasing as the book is not to hand): The reason you are getting no gigs is that according to a poll in the Sunday Times you play Britain's least popular instrument.

    Round here none of the amateur orchestras have stable trombone sections and the same people do the rounds of all of them. Of course, they have to handle clefs and alto trombone so its different from brass bands.

    Over the past few years I have encouraged a number of parents to start kids on trombone because they will never be short of a gig. In a few years we will know if its had any effect.

    I know that I am tempted to switch when the cornet gets too tough.
  8. BoBo

    BoBo Member

    Speaking for myself, I have come very late to brass banding and even later to trombone playing. Given the motivation, teenagers would grasp the technicalities of clefs and slides 2/3/4 times quicker than someone like me in their late 40s/early 50s.

    The issue is not clefs or valves, it is motivation, desire, wanting to do it.
  9. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like a very good idea. Two extra sheets won't cost the publishers much, and it may help a lot of band find more players. In the long run, it may even permanently change brass band trombonist to play bass clef, who knows...

    Here in Belgium, something similar has already happened: Trombone parts in wind band and fanfare band sets are usually provided in three clefs: bass clef (C), transposed bass cleff (Bb) and transposed treble clef (Bb).
    The first one is because that's the way all players learn it nowadays
    The second one is for older players, who used to learn transposed bass clef
    the third one is for players coming from a brass band background
    The trombonists in our band always play the bass clef parts (although they can read treble clef too), so the other two clef parts are usually discarded

    bass parts are usually also provided in two clefs (treble and bass), sometimes even three.
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I'd change that to "There is an extreme shortage of good trombonists." There are plenty of weaker players around, of all ages. But then, I'm not so sure that this has changed.

    Regarding amateur orchestral trombone sections, I see the same pattern in the various places which I inhabit musically for amateur and semi-pro orchestral gigs (Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, London, even Edinburgh occasionally) - orchestras have a choice between having regular players who turn up to all rehearsals and pay subs who are substandard and having better players from a limited pool who turn up to a few rehearsals by arrangement and do not pay subs or get paid a small amount. The trombone parts in orchestral writing tend to be sparse enough (while the actual written music is good enough) that this equilibrium is quite robust.
  11. Thanks guys some of the replies tend to support my theory of the apparent shortage. We had a trombone player seek us out 12 months ago he could only read bass clef. Fair game he has stuck with us and has worked really hard to master treble clef. I don't wish to insult anyone but the comment about weaker players is also true. There are band swhich have between four and seven in their section but not really that good. Perhaps the good ones are just in it for the money? What about you guys who publish the music. Could an extra sheet be produced which might help bands out? Could it be just too costly?
  12. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    No, it's probably not too costly, and indeed some publishers have begun including alternative clef parts already. Problem is, no-one's going to do it for the thousands of pieces published over the last 100+ years and already sitting in band libraries up and down the country.
  13. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    if the Bb Treble clef part was given to the player, with instructions on how to transpose it to Bass Clef, the exercise would probably end up with the player realizing it's not that hard to change clef and then the problem would disappear.
  14. HowarthBrass

    HowarthBrass Member

    Hey, don't tar all trombone players with the same brush. The ones you know may be mercenaries, but where I come from, trombone players help out when and where ever they can and very rarely charge for it.
    If you're talking mercenary, in my experience, percussionists are the worst!

    Mark H.
  15. Nuke

    Nuke Active Member

    I have seen pieces recently that have provided both treble and bass cleff parts for the 1st and 2nd trombones so it is happening just not over all music.
    I was very lucky in a sense that I learnt bass cleff notes from playing the piano so whilst I can read bass cleff it just takes a while for me to play it properlly on a trombone.
  16. floppyflugel

    floppyflugel New Member

    Just caught up with this we've not had any problems at all keeping our trom players or finding deps- who dont demand fees- when required. Take the point about publishing trom parts in both clefs and could be something worth thinking about. But for all of us the main thing is to have a welcoming band room particularly when players are joining us for the first time, or one-offs. Hope you've sorted something, good luck if you're still searching
  17. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Teaching - many parents will be upset to find out that their child is being taught to read a clef which is almost never used in professional ensembles, so expect kids to be stuck with bass.

    I imagine most of the exam repoertoire is also still in bass clef, and we all know how competetive parents get! I remember as a kid meeting a grade 8 trombonist (I would have been on about grade 4 at the time) who couldn't sight-read a C major scale.

    Not many teachers around teaching 'global' reading (ie, learning all of the common keys and transpositions at once), even when I was at university the players who could slot in to any clef and key were few and far between.

    As for finding trombonists - I am available for any band, anywhere in the world, travelling expenses will be enough :D
  18. RThomp7462

    RThomp7462 Member

    trombones . . . well . . . which clef . . . bass clef in C or bass clef in B-flat (for some European "fanfare" bands) . . . treble clef for most British-style brass bands . . . bass clef for orchestras and wind bands . . . or for many earlier publications in tenor clef . . . (a publisher's nightmare) . . .
  19. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Return To The Forbidden Planet has some bits in treble clef in C... and don't forget alto!
  20. RThomp7462

    RThomp7462 Member


Share This Page