Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

How and what to teach and learn.
Post Reply
shider
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:31 am

Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by shider » Wed May 16, 2018 3:30 am

Hi fellow trombonists!

i'm teaching my first student since fall last year. He's still a little short but is quite eager and learning fast.

Now my question is the following:
Is there a time/point when you start the process of leading a pupil to develop his own sound concept, or do you start as early as possible?
Can it harm the development of fundementals or is it in each and every way benefitial?
Going along Arnold Jacobs' idea of "sound and wind" i would think it could only benefit him having an idea of the sound he is aiming for and that it would further his progress.

Speaking from my own time as a student (i still consider myself as one at only 24 years) with a teacher i had for far too long no idea of how i wanted to sound. My first teacher (a trumpet player) didn't encourage me to listen to trombonists or any music at all and hearing younger students who are still with him i get the feeling they try to adapt the trumpets sound to the trombone and i think they all sound very tight and nasal...

After i started to listen to a lot of Music (after changing the teacher to a trombonist) i noticed how my playing abilities grew alongside my sound concept, so i'm thinking about leading him on this path as early as possible. Maybe by giving him a song to listen to per week and talking about it the following week?

I would love to get some insight on this topic from you! :???:
thanks a lot!

Greetings from Germany!
cozzagiorgi
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:40 pm

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by cozzagiorgi » Wed May 16, 2018 6:04 am

I dont think you can start this process to early.

I played for quite a few years before hearing a top notch player. And I then realized my sound concepts where much to "band" oriented.

This happened well 15 or 20 years ago and I still think it hinders me sometimes.

Showing a young student what is actually possible is always a great way to teach. They have to know what to listen for and, more importantly, what they can imitate.
User avatar
StevenC
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:46 pm
Location: Hudson Valley, New York

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by StevenC » Wed May 16, 2018 8:48 am

Expose your student to a variety of good trombone players (including yourself). This will help the student develop a sound concept. I know it gave my daughter a running start, way back when she started.

If you want to do more explicit activities, play some trombone music for your student and have the student describe the sound. The description does not need to use musical terms. It could use colors or flavors.
User avatar
Neo Bri
Posts: 490
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:30 am
Location: Netherwhere
Contact:

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Neo Bri » Wed May 16, 2018 8:54 am

I believe there can be a "too early." Mostly that is when the sound trumps the technique. Embouchure form and function has to happen first, otherwise... you could just be "polishing a turd."

If embouchure and other technique is strong and working correctly, then sound concept begins to be very important.

The reason I say this is because I've seen too many times players with terrible fundamentals that eventually develop a good sound. The problem then is the whole house needs to be burned down when they run out of chops, and rebuilt correctly later.
Get the word out! Make www.trombonechat.com our community!
VJOFan
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:39 am

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by VJOFan » Wed May 16, 2018 12:06 pm

My first teacher (I was 11 years old or so) was an Eastman grad bass trombonist. Trying to make my Conn Director sound like his massive, symphonic, bass trombone sound was my concept maker.

I mention this as a way to say that you may not need to discuss sound concept per se but rather, as hinted above a few times, model great sound and let the student absorb that sound.

As time goes on multiple models and the differences between them can be utilized to facilitate style and expression.

An aside is a personal moment when I realized how important models were after almost 40 years of playing. I had a solo in a chart in a big band that I could never figure out how to make work. A more experienced gentleman joined the group and I passed the part to him. He played mostly trad jazz. He played the solo once and it all made sense. When he later moved on (to travel with his girl!) I got the solo back and could make it wail!

Model, model , model. No Amount of verbiage can do what a live sound can do.
Kbiggs
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:46 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by Kbiggs » Wed May 16, 2018 9:27 pm

In a word, no.

My view: Initially, provide good models to the student, as said above. Play well for your student, and encourage them to listen to trombonists who have sounds that are in the “normal” range for that kind of instrument (whatever that means... ducks and runs for cover...). Maybe even a sampler CD or playlist with a selection of trombonists whose tone you “approve” of. De gustibus non disputandum est.

For beginning students, I think sound should be noted and occasionally guided, but the focus is really on making the notes sound, time, rhythm, range, slurs, etc. In other words, a part of the diet. Later on, when the student has some fundamentals more in control—improved consistency in production, time, rhythm, reading, etc.—then placing a little more emphasis on producing a “pleasing” tone.

Once they can hear consistency in the “grosser” aspects of their playing, then they will have the ability to refine the subtler portions.
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
—Mark Twain (attributed)
boneagain
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:52 pm

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by boneagain » Thu May 17, 2018 5:34 am

Neo Bri wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 8:54 am
I believe there can be a "too early." Mostly that is when the sound trumps the technique. Embouchure form and function has to happen first, otherwise... you could just be "polishing a turd."

If embouchure and other technique is strong and working correctly, then sound concept begins to be very important.

The reason I say this is because I've seen too many times players with terrible fundamentals that eventually develop a good sound. The problem then is the whole house needs to be burned down when they run out of chops, and rebuilt correctly later.
Interesting comments, and I've been mulling over them since you posted.

I think there is a fine, but important, distinction here: characteristic sound versus intentionally customized sound. I would classify characteristic sound as the horn equivalent of "full voice" singing. Customized sound would include not only colorations of full voice, but "stylings" including such nuances as breathy pop styles.

I think that introduction to and insistence on characteristic sound must come before the first note. And I think I agree that customized sound MUST come later, perhaps MUCH later.

The situation that kept coming back to me as I mulled this over was the preponderance of laryngitis and even nodes on vocal chords in pre-amplification high school musicals. Teenagers with little or no formal training to help them understand the basics of protecting their singing apparatus would strive to reproduce the sound quality, and quantity, of Broadway and opera stars in a spate of rehearsals culminating in a few nights of REALLY belting it out. I recall a number of these stars having to UNlearn gobs of technique as college freshmen. And I recall a number that scarred their singing ability for life.

We have the physical equipment we are born with and the horn we get to play. From listening to a number of posts on TTF it is clear that, once fundamentals are set, we ending sounding like ourselves, no matter what we TRY to sound like. The most secure path to finding out what we sound like is to listen to characteristic sound first ("model" as so well put in other posts) then sing to make sure we understand the musical idea, then work within our current physical limitations to replicate what we sing using a characteristic sound.
imsevimse
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by imsevimse » Thu May 17, 2018 5:54 am

Neo Bri wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 8:54 am
I believe there can be a "too early." Mostly that is when the sound trumps the technique. Embouchure form and function has to happen first, otherwise... you could just be "polishing a turd."

If embouchure and other technique is strong and working correctly, then sound concept begins to be very important.

The reason I say this is because I've seen too many times players with terrible fundamentals that eventually develop a good sound. The problem then is the whole house needs to be burned down when they run out of chops, and rebuilt correctly later.
Good points! Yes and No ;-)

Yes, because I believe there could be a problem for students who do not want to do changes in one's technique if it effects their tone negative. I do believe some changes like that to be necessary for example if you're technique demands a complete different setup. I myself had to do a complete change at one time and the immediate result was I lost all of my playing including sound. I could barely play anything.

No, because if you have a good sound concept early from a raw model then you will probably do better than without. I had not heard as good live trombone sound until I was fourteen. I think I suffered from that in my early years and that could maybe be the course of the bad technique I developed that I later had to change.

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Thu May 17, 2018 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by ghmerrill » Thu May 17, 2018 7:50 am

The original posting put the question in terms of the student developing "his own sound concept". Later ones have shifted at least in part to talking about the importance of developing a "good sound concept". Surely, it is never too early to work on developing a good sound concept. But if developing your "own" sound concept is oriented to developing something like a personally distinctive sound (in accord with some "concept" you have of this), then there is much danger in going in that direction too early. I'm not sure this is what the OP was suggesting -- and quite possibly not, but ...

This is just another way of putting the point (and distinction) made by boneagain. And it's a critical point in understanding pedogogy in general. We have at least one generation of students, many of whom can't write a coherent sentence or paragraph to save their lives -- in large part because they've been encouraged from the earliest grades to focus on "expressing" themselves and finding "their own voices". You just don't get to the point of developing a good expression or voice if you begin focusing on that before you have mastered the recognized fundamentals to some significant degree.

The great artists (Picasso is a good example) changed the world of art. What many people ignore is the years/decades of effort they spent in learning the basic concepts, tools, and techniques of their trade before making those original and distinctive contributions. And how all that learning and effort informed and contributed to their own distinctive talents and capabilities. You don't want to poison that well by moving too quickly.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/110 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
shider
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:31 am

Re: Building a Sound Concept - Is there a "too early"?

Post by shider » Thu May 17, 2018 9:05 am

First of all, thank you all so much for your input! That was some really interesting reading :D
ghmerrill wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 7:50 am
The original posting put the question in terms of the student developing "his own sound concept". Later ones have shifted at least in part to talking about the importance of developing a "good sound concept". Surely, it is never too early to work on developing a good sound concept. But if developing your "own" sound concept is oriented to developing something like a personally distinctive sound (in accord with some "concept" you have of this), then there is much danger in going in that direction too early. I'm not sure this is what the OP was suggesting -- and quite possibly not, but ...
Well.. english is my second language, so i was expecting to have some miscommunication :shuffle:
I don't intend to lead him to develop his own concept of sound. My thoughts were more in the direction of pointing him towards beeing able to recognise what a good sound is and what isn't.
boneagain wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 5:34 am
I think there is a fine, but important, distinction here: characteristic sound versus intentionally customized sound. I would classify characteristic sound as the horn equivalent of "full voice" singing
That describes it perfectly!

And of course i see the importance of having a solid foundation (as in building a house) before putting a beautiful sound(/roof) on there to top it off. If that is neglected i can see the whole thing starting to crumble when the foundation can't support the weight of it all. (i hope this metaphor is somewhat understandable)
It's pretty much alongside what Neo Bri described by "polishing a turd". Like a model home; looks pretty but the illusion falls apart fast if one takes a closer look.

VJOFan wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:06 pm
My first teacher (I was 11 years old or so) was an Eastman grad bass trombonist. Trying to make my Conn Director sound like his massive, symphonic, bass trombone sound was my concept maker.
Very much the same with me and my student (although i'm only a motivated amateur). I mainly play my Basstrombone (260mm/10.2in Bell) in lessons with him and he plays a smallbore Jupiter (lent from our community band and it might even be the same one on which i started a few years ago :biggrin: ) I'm really amazed what amount of sound he gets out of it already! :lol:

So in summary i shall strive to make my sound as admirable as possible to get him (unconsciously) trying to mimic me (while honing in the fundamentals) and if he is ready in terms of having solid fundamentals i will point him towards the great trombonists out there and let him explore what greatness can be heard :-o

Thanks you for your insight! :good:
Post Reply

Return to “Teaching & Learning”