Recruiting and Retaining Trombonists in the Band ProgramThe Basics! Presented by: Robert Kehle Pittsburg State University At the Kansas Music Educators In-Service Workshop February 24, 2006 2:45-3:35 Century II Room 206 Wichita, Kansas This program has been made possible through a grant from C. G. Conn.
- University Professor of Music @ Pittsburg State University - Principle Trombone with the Springfield, MO Symphony Orchestra - Trombonist with the PSU Brass Quintet - Artist/clinician with C. G. Conn - Degrees in Music Education and Trombone Performance from: Washington State University Indiana University Studied trombone with: Mr. M. Dee Stewart (Philadelphia Sym. Orch.) Dr. S. Thomas Beversdorf (Pittsburgh Sym.) Mr. Keith Brown (Philadelphia Sym. Orch.) Mr. Ed Kleinhammer (Chicago Sym.) Robert Kehlerkehle@pittstate.edu
THE BASICS It is how you get better. Accept no substitute.
Breath support • The alternative to breathing is not very pleasant. • This should be a natural process; unfortunately we often make it harder. • Never stop talking about it. • AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR, AIR…
AIR In order to improve the playing of a student we must concentrate on the critical factors of playing. • AIR is #1.
AIR The diaphragm works like a bellows. It sucks air in and the result is an expansion of the lungs as the diaphragm moves downward.
Diaphragm Centrum tendineum the chest Diaphragm at inhalation at expiration
AIR Do not let the shoulders rise unduly as this just creates tension in the upper body and lungs. Tension = Tight sound
Long phrases. Seeing how long we can play. Super soft playing. These result in a reduction of air to the embouchure; therefore, the Embouchure shuts down and we lose the pitch and tone. AIRReasons we cut back on the air.
Demonstration techniques: The Yawn. Breathe in on “HAW.” The nose breath. Normal breathing. 5. A poke in the ribs. Exercises: Inhale on a MOE for a 4 count – exhale on TOE for a 4 count. Do not hold it in! AIRProper air.
AIR To open the oral cavity: • Breathe through a paper towel tube or place 2 fingers in your mouth. The throat is an extension of the tube. 2. Say in a regular beat; “ee, ah, oh, ee, ah, oh” then inhale through the larger oral cavity.
AIR It should be like a circle or swing, in and out. Inhale Exhale The inhalation and exhalation should be one complete process. Do not hold the air in as it creates tension.
Air – the Exhalation To help a student achieve a continuous full exhalation try the pinwheel demonstration. Blow at the pinwheel and keep the wheel moving.
Breathing Problems 1. Noisy inhalation (especially a high sound) is a symptom of tension and constriction. Try lowering and relaxing the tongue. 2. Make sure that the student is not using the breath as a chance to change the embouchure in different registers. 3. Air blockage is a common problem. Often we tighten up in the throat or upper chest and in so doing we compensate by forcing the air. In reality what we have done is to constrict the airflow. 4. As a good rule, breathe early rather than waiting for the last second to breathe. Late inhalations are often tight and forced. 5. Breathe in time with the music. One beat or two, depending on the tempo will help relax the drawing of the breath and help you feel the tempo and beat. • The shoulders should stay calm and not rise up. 7. Grunting sounds usually indicate that the player is constricting the throat.
Air – the Inhalation • Using inspired volume measuring devices can help measure the amount of air taken in. • These are used in hospitals.
AIR & Posture When standing, stand tall with the legs slightly apart. Not rigidly at attention as shown. If you slouch you will not be able to breathe properly. Playing over the top of the stands can cause incorrect embouchures Sit up straight, but relaxed. Not at attention as shown.
AIR & Posture NEVER do this! For marching band you may need to tilt back slightly in order to get the horns up. It is a necessary evil, but a more normal posture following the lines of the teeth is best.
Mouthpiece Angle Follow the teeth. The horn is straight out and look at the mouthpiece seal, or lack of proper seal.
Holding the instrument,it makes a difference The left hand forms a ‘L’ or gun. This is what it should look like.
The Bad Slide Hand The ‘claw’ The ‘finger’ Hold that bell, NOT!
Embouchure “There is nothing wrong with your chops, your mind is messing them up.” Paraphrase from Bud Herseth, Chicago Symphony
Embouchure Various ways to discuss the embouchure. 1. Saying ‘M.’ 2. A straw in the mouth. 3. Say “Beau-ty” and hold on “Beau.”
Embouchure Keep the corners down. 1. Pretend that you have dental floss across the teeth and pull down the corners. 2. Think of an anchor on both sides of the mouth.
The puffy cheeks Trombonists need to anchor the corners of the mouth, hold the cheeks against the teeth, but not rigidly, and minimize the puffing. The bunched chin Keep the chin flat, especially as you ascend. Look in a mirror as you practice and be aware. Embouchure
Embouchureand Pressure Left-handed embouchure. “Let me cram the mouthpiece through the back of my face,” says the masochist. Try pressing your thumb against the lower edge of the front teeth. Now look at the indentation in the thumb. Imagine what this is like to the soft lip tissue. Ring on the lips. If the lips become swollen it is a result of poor circulation.
Embouchureand Pressure An improper balance between the airflow and the lips. • It often results in tension in either the chest, throat, or both.
Embouchureand Pressure The smile Embouchure creates a set of “thin” lips.
EmbouchurePressure Fixes 1. Make sure the air is there for the lips. Double check the breathing process. 2. Consciously strive to pull the horn away from the lips without losing the basic seal needed to play. 3. Make sure the lips are not thin in the mouthpiece. There needs to be a lip cushion, but too much will result in a stuffy sound. “Air takes the stress off the embouchure...” Norman Bolter, Boston Symphony, master class October 2, 1991
Embouchure • If the student tends to drop off from one note to a lower harmonic it may be due to not having enough lip in the mouthpiece. • The drop off can also be the result of the air velocity dropping in intensity. Use the “block of air or sound” concept • The same can be true if there is difficulty in starting the note or keeping on pitch.
Embouchure building The best way to build up the embouchure and increase endurance is to do: 1. Lip slurs. 2. Flexibility studies. 3. Mouthpiece buzzing (in moderation).
Tone and the Mouth Cavity The mouth cavity should not be closed; rather it should be in a slightly open fashion. Try closing your lips and let the jaw hang; don’t close the teeth.
Tone Results from: • Proper Air. • An open mouth cavity. Remember let the jaw hang open. • A solid tone concept. • Good equipment. (There are some slides at the end of the presentation that deal with this topic.) “The horn is a megaphone for us.” Eric Cress, Co-principle Trombone with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Articulations “Attacks are the first thing people hear of your sound.” Jay Friedman, Chicago Symphony
Tu = a defined start to the note Do = a soft attack Thu = a softer attack Lu = an unaccented articulation. The notes butt up against each other for a very smooth legato sound This creates a space between notes. This allows for long notes and less space. Almost a legato articulation with virtually no space between notes. The true legato tongue. ArticulationsTONGUE CHART
Articulations Stop tongue This is where the player ends the note with the tongue. Brass players do not do this as it usually causes a disruption of the tone. It most often produces a ‘toowhat’ sound. To fix the problem liken it to blowing out a match or candle. You just stop blowing and use a burst of air timed the proper length to get the job done.
Articulations The square root sign and/or ballooning the note. • Do not allow the air to drop after the articulation like a square root sign. This will result in a ‘doowa’ type of sound. b. The balloon is similar in that. The player pushes off the end of the note with a crescendo.
Articulations No tongue This is where the student has learned to play the note without starting with an articulation. Somewhere along the line they didn’t hear and retain the concept of articulations. To fix this you will need them to do what I call “beat the head against the wall practice.” This is where the student must practice with a ‘tu’ or ‘du’ articulation on various notes and ranges over and over and over and over ... again. DO NOT HOLD THE AIR IN BEFORE STARTING THE NOTE. Remember it is one process of in and out. It is great TV commercial practice time.
Articulations Legato tongue This is by far the hardest aspect of trombone articulation. The slide must be very fast. Tell them 100 MPH. 1. The slide must work correctly. 2. Practice by glissing between the notes. Make it so fast that you can barely hear the slide. 3. Use a ‘thu’ tongue to begin with. This is close to a true legato and works well in ensembles. 4. Once the ‘thu’ works then deal with the ‘lu’ tongue. Make it happen on the note ‘F’ then add chromatic Add motion.
Articulations Multiple tongue An alternation between: tu’ & ‘ku’ or ‘du’ & ‘gu.’ Practice saying it, but use the air too.
Tone “In my opinion, the trombone is the true head of the family of wind instruments, which I have named the ‘epic’ one. It possesses nobility and grandeur to the highest degree; it has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical poetry, from religious, calm and imposing accents to savage, orgiastic outbursts. Directed by the will of the master, the trombones can chant like a choir of priests, threaten, utter gloomy sighs, a mournful lament, or a bright hymn of glory; they can break forth into awe inspiring cries and awaken the dead or doom the living with their fearful voices.” Hector Berlioz, 19th Century composer
Range - The primary key to range is AIR. • The air must be faster and more compact as you go higher. - One way to speed up the air is by changing the mouth cavity by using the syllable ‘dee’ as opposed to ‘doo.’ - The air column must change like a camera lens reducing in size due to increased lighting. - Lip slurs are a must in order to improve range.
Intonation • There is no substitute for tuner practice. • Train the student to listen for the ‘beats.’ Problem with being flat? • If the tuning slide is way out itis usually a symptom of someone trying to play with his or her lips apart. Make sure the air separates the lips.
Intonation • Use easy, but fun music that includes a CD play along to assist in early intonation building. • Here are a couple of examples I like. • Tons of Tunes published by Curnow Music • Double Dip duets published by Club Hip-Bone
Warm-up A warm-up to a brass player is like a warm up is to a runner. You do not run flat out without stretching and getting the muscles functioning. The same is true for the trombone.
Warm-up • Get the air moving! Use breathing exercises. • Play semi-long tones. 4 beats at q = 60 • Use scales and arpeggios for articulation work. • Play lip slurs. 5. Try some mouthpiece buzzing as they mature.
Warm-up - Fun stuff • Use easy children’s tunes to help warm-up and to begin to deal with improvisation. a. Mary Had a Little Lamb b. Old MacDonald
Warm-up - Fun stuff Have the students play children’s tunes. Do not tell them the key. Just let them go by giving them a starting note. They will explore and learn new notes on their own. This is a beginning improvisation technique.
Equipment Recommendations Most new beginning horns are at least OK. Things to look for: • A slide grip that is not one piece. • You get what you pay for. Used horns: • Does the slide work correctly. 2. Are there large dents on the horn. Particularly check the slide and tuning slide bows for dents.
Equipment Recommendations.Mouthpieces. To start on a 12C (Bach designation) is fine, but switch them as soon as possible to a 6½ AL. Middle school or by high school is a good time to switch. The 6 ½ AL will take more AIR, but it opens up the sound. Mouthpiece Trueing Tool
Equipment MaintenanceThese are problems. Slide width http://www.slidedr.com/ Stuck slide http://www.oberloh.com/SPL/spl1.htm Sprung slide http://www.slidedr.com/