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Thread: Moving from Tenor to Bass Trombone

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    tMP Friend in Training glidng_slide's Avatar
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    Moving from Tenor to Bass Trombone

    Having played Tenor Trombone for the last 20 years, with odd spells on Baritone and Eb and BBb Bass, how much effort is required to move onto Bass Trombone?

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    Cue jokes about having to learn to lose sense of dynamics, drink more beer, become overweight.

    You may suddenly realise what concert pitch is really all about. (You will therefore always be 'right' - every else is 'wrong'). To learn bass clef - should take 2 weeks max. As you are familiar with other instruments, while you are at it I would also suggest that you learn to read the bass clef with a Bb valve instrument too (leave Eb for a while).

    If you are in a lower section band you will now become 10 times more valuable.
    Last edited by Beesa; 13.08.2012 at 13:27.

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    I think that you should be fine moving down the line in this way.

    I for the record played tenor for quite a while before moving to Bass - but I can't see it being much different.

    Bigget thing is learning to fill the instrument - it is after all quite a lot heftier than a horn. Long notes and breathing exercises though dull are probably the best.

    Then of course, theres learning the slide positions & the relevant plug combinations. Not a huge thing to learn, but it takes a while to learn it on the instrument as the different valves and instrument combinations tend to be a little idiosyncratic.

    There is no particular rocket science to it, so you should be fine. Maybe have a go at the two in tandem for a while and see where your heart lies. It's not like it has to be a permenant change.

    I hope that this helps anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by glidng_slide View Post
    Having played Tenor Trombone for the last 20 years, with odd spells on Baritone and Eb and BBb Bass, how much effort is required to move onto Bass Trombone?

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    tMP Prime Friend Bayerd's Avatar
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    I also played tenor for about 20 years before switching about 8 years ago. Give yourself time to adapt to the lower register and try to keep the air column as open as you can. Think big and dark as your sound concept and try to bridge the gap between the tenor voices and the tuba voices.

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    I was lucky. I was taught Bass Clef reading in my early years and stopped my trombone lessons before having learnt Tenor Clef, consequently I have played Bass Trombone ever since and taught myself the other clefs afterwards. In many respects the Bass Trombone is an impact instrument (think about those exciting movie soundtrack moments and invariably it's the Bass Trombone making "rude" noises) but also it's the instrument that adds bite and depth to the Bass line in both Orchestral and Band settings.

    Yes you have received good advise here, think big and dark. You may find yourself in need of an iron lung from time to time when scratching near the bottom of your range. When I started I found I could get the notes pretty easily but it did seem to take an age for me to make them "sound" like a Bass Trombone should and have that Bass Trombone presence so be patient and hang on in there.

    I've found the Bass Trombone making a resurgance in popularity. There are many more solos out there than used to be and many more people want to play what for me is the most exciting and rewarding brass instrument to play.

    There certainly seems to be many people that play Bass Trombone that frequent tMP so feel free to let us know how you're getting on or are in need of a tip or two.

    Good luck!
    Mark Crellin
    Bass Trombone
    Manx Concert Brass
    Isle of Man

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    I switched last year and my biggest headache was (still is!) learning that Bb is where I was taught C was on the tenor. Although my intention was to re-learn the positions I think my heard does a bit of both (I'm transposing some notes but have learnt the new low down notes in concert pitch!) I can't stress enough I think this is a bad idea! If you're not familiar with reading concert bass clef the sooner you can learn that 1st position is Bb the smoother the transition will go. The other problem I have is that although I could read bass clef from playing the piano a little there are some notes at the high and low end of the range you rarely see on the piano (way too many ledger lines! - piano music just switches you to treble clef but bass trombone seem to stay in bass clef). I've recently written (but have yet to proof read so feel free to point out my mistakes!) some small exercises to try get the concert pitch notes in my head , you can download the bits here... http://james.webulator.net/music/318 , hope it makes sense to others!

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    Having just started playing again after a long break and still re-learning everything, I bounce about between tenor and bass depending on which band I play with but tend to transpose to bass from tenor (down a fifth or imagine its written 2 lines lower and add 2 sharps to the key sig.). It works for me but can be a bit confusing when the MD starts talking in concert pitch. Too late for me but I would recommend learning to read in concert as others have said. It will also open up new opportunities for orchestra, dance band or concert band if you fancy a bit of variety. Good luck and enjoy!

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    tMP Friend basebonetone's Avatar
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    Wink Bass Trom advice

    Quote Originally Posted by glidng_slide View Post
    Having played Tenor Trombone for the last 20 years, with odd spells on Baritone and Eb and BBb Bass, how much effort is required to move onto Bass Trombone?
    A good idea is to have a go on the instrument for a couple of weeks then get a lesson from an established bass trombone player-you will learn more this way a lot faster!
    Tony Robertson

  9. #9
    tMP Friend in Training Jnr.'s Avatar
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    i found the biggest problem wasn't actually getting the lower notes but projecting them and getting the dark, edgy bass trombone sound. i found it pretty frustrating at the start as i knew exactly how i wanted to sound but just didn't have the lungs or chops for it. if you do a lot of breathing exercises it should start to get easier to sustain the low notes and as for getting the 'edgy' sound, you just have to keep practicing the lower range so your chops get used to it.

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    Don't over think it. You've been playing tenor for ages so just treat it like a slightly bigger tenor and just take bigger breaths. If you're learning bass clef, get yourself in a band as much as possible, swallow your pride and be prepared to make loads of mistakes. Just do it and eventually it will 'click'. The sound you want won't come straight away....but keep taking those big breaths and it'll feel more comfortable in no time. Have fun!

  11. #11
    tMP Friend in Training glidng_slide's Avatar
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    I was prepared to suck it and see, making wrong notes in rehearsals rather than on the concert stand, band isn't too keen so back to tenor!!!

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