Keeping the horn steady

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GTDon501
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Keeping the horn steady

Post by GTDon501 » Sat Apr 21, 2018 7:10 am

I'm having trouble keeping the horn steady as I move the slide quickly from one position, say 1st, to 4th or 5th. Is it my arm position? Hand position? Tension? Additional weight on the slide when extended? I'm experimenting with all of these things but those sixteenth notes jar my embouchure. Yes, I'm practicing the runs slowly, trying not to move.
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BGuttman
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by BGuttman » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:03 am

How is the condition of your slide? If you hold the horn with the slide about 15 degrees from horizonal will it move by itself? If not, look into cleaning or lubing. If that doesn't help have a tech check alignment and look for dents.

You should support all the weight of the horn with your left hand and that should hold it to your embouchure. If you are depending at all on your right hand to support the horn that will interfere with your movement.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
hyperbolica
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by hyperbolica » Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:40 pm

I try to hold the slide loosely between 2 fingers with out trying to use the right hand to hold the slide up at all.

The second thing it might be is your articulation is too heavy, such that your chops bounce when you articulate quickly. If you bounce when you play 16th notes in one position, that's something to work on.
Last edited by hyperbolica on Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Kbiggs
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by Kbiggs » Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:13 pm

My first thought: ask your teacher about it. If you don’t have a teacher, find one. If you can’t find a good, reputable teacher to help diagnose and work to change what you’re doing, ask a friend whose playing you admire to watch and provide feedback. If neither of those are available, take a video of yourself playing and analyze it.

Second thought: in addition to holding the horn entirely with the left arm like Bruce says, watch your right arm movement. The natural tendency is to swing the arm at the elbow, creating an arc. This can lead to torque between the left hand trying to hold the horn steady, and the right hand, which will move up in the middle of the arc and back down on either end. 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions will be especially difficulty and “bumpy.”

What you want is to move the slide in as straight a line as possible. This involves coordinating between the angle of the wrist, the elbow, and the shoulder. Think of the three joints as working like a bellows such as you might find on an accordian. Yes, you can swing the bellows in an arc for special effects on an accordian, but the most efficient movement is back and forth in a line.
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
—Mark Twain (attributed)
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BGuttman
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by BGuttman » Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:37 pm

For what it's worth, I think what Ken is describing was the reason for the Davis Shuman trombone with the slide heading off at an angle to the right. With the slide at an angle, you are more approximating the movement of the arm. Doug Yeo talks about helping reach the longer positions by twisting your body to the left a little so your right arm is a little extended. Definitely useful for bass trombone players with the longer positions.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
timothy42b
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by timothy42b » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:10 am

Jim Markey recently talked about hand position as you extend the slide. His belief is that the natural rotation of the joints involved means when the slide is all the way in, your thumb should be to your nose and your palm toward the floor. When it is all the way out, your thumb should be toward the ceiling and the palm facing sideways.

I think he's right, based on the experimenting a room full of us did.

This rotation is continuous through the positions. Any attempt to maintain one hand orientation results in side motion.
Kbiggs
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by Kbiggs » Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:26 pm

Here’s another take on slide technique: https://trombonetools.com/slide-technique/

There’s also Weston Sprott’s position: keep the thumb and first two fingers “glued” to the slide brace. Try holding a dime or a penny with your thumb, and then with your two fingers.

I’m not saying any of these are right or correct or true. However, they are opinions of highly respected teachers and players.
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
—Mark Twain (attributed)
afugate
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by afugate » Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:10 am

Kbiggs wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:13 pm
Second thought: in addition to holding the horn entirely with the left arm like Bruce says, watch your right arm movement. The natural tendency is to swing the arm at the elbow, creating an arc. This can lead to torque between the left hand trying to hold the horn steady, and the right hand, which will move up in the middle of the arc and back down on either end. 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions will be especially difficulty and “bumpy.”

What you want is to move the slide in as straight a line as possible. This involves coordinating between the angle of the wrist, the elbow, and the shoulder. Think of the three joints as working like a bellows such as you might find on an accordion. Yes, you can swing the bellows in an arc for special effects on an accordion, but the most efficient movement is back and forth in a line.
I was given the following exercise to address this issue.
Keep the slide locked in first position and "air play" patterns by running your right hand down the lower slide tube as though you were moving the whole slide. Now try to find the angles and the arm motion where you have the least amount of slide movement.
It helped me. Your mileage may vary... :)

--Andy in OKC
baileyman
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by baileyman » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:48 am

This is a great topic for a flame war.

You can try simple exercises alternating two notes in different positions. Start simple with maybe 3 to 4. Start slow. Gliss. Keep a tempo. Watch the horn for movement. Listen to the sound for steadiness. If it seems good then double the rhythm. If it keeps seeming good move to other pairs. Then three positions then four etc.

Somewhere you'll find niggling weirdness. You can smooth them out by observing while repeating as above.

You will probably find also that there is a huge amount of subtlety to smoothing out the entire length of the movement. Close in presents different problems then further out. Etc. You may find a need to hold things differently and that can help. But it can be dangerous. I know a guy who hardly gets called for LA studio work because of a floppy wrist, which is irrelevant, but that's what he says.
timothy42b
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by timothy42b » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:18 am

We have talked about holding the instrument palm down vs palm facing.

I've also watched professionals with blazing speed, and they don't all do what they say they do. In particular, most use less wrist and more forearm. But they also tend to stabilize around an area of positions and postures. Jim Pugh was the first one I watched from up close do this, and that's when I started thinking this way.

So I suggest this. Jim Markey is right that the natural rotation of the joints produces a motion that starts out palm down thumb to nose in 1st, turns gradually and smoothly to palm facing thumb up in 3-4th, ends up palm sideways thumb up in 6-7.

Now we add the complication of where we mostly play. Sam Burtis says he considers 3-4 to be the center point, and plans his use of alternates to minimize motion away from that home setting. He also is more palm facing than most players I see, and he plays more straight out from his face for horn angle. The choice of home position interacts with the body mechanics to lead to this.

Or I could be wrong. I'm mostly just thinking out loud.
GTDon501
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by GTDon501 » Thu May 03, 2018 9:11 am

Thanks for all the valuable advice. It seems that a firmer grip supporting the horn with the left hand is part of the key. Also, it seems I'm tending to support the weight of the horn and slide somewhat with my right hand. But it's tough going. As I try to hold the slide more lightly (and fluidly) with my right hand, I'm now encountering some shoulder pain, largely I suspect because my shoulder is carrying more of the weight suspending my right arm. And I seem to be carrying the right elbow a bit further from my body. I am working on sliding my right hand along a locked slide to get a better feel of what it takes to move the slide in a straight line. I may need a teacher to straighten this issue out. Sixteenth notes are tough.
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by AndrewMeronek » Fri May 04, 2018 7:54 am

That James Markey talk is here:



The bit about slide technique starts around 5:30.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
Paperclip
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by Paperclip » Fri May 04, 2018 9:30 pm

GTDon501 wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 7:10 am
I'm having trouble keeping the horn steady as I move the slide quickly from one position, say 1st, to 4th or 5th. Is it my arm position? Hand position? Tension? Additional weight on the slide when extended? I'm experimenting with all of these things but those sixteenth notes jar my embouchure. Yes, I'm practicing the runs slowly, trying not to move.
I added a 1/2 lb weight just in front of the tuning slide which helped me.
VJOFan
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Re: Keeping the horn steady

Post by VJOFan » Wed May 09, 2018 11:20 am

Extending the slide (as alluded to in the post that mentions the Davis Schumann horn) does not capitalize on the most natural path of the hand when the arm is straightened.

It takes some thought and focused practice to get your arm to extend along the same plain as the slide.

The palm down method mentioned above helped me. Also simply paying attention to what my arm and hand did when I moved the slide slowly showed me what I needed to change. I found I had to extend the shoulder a bit to get to sixth and seventh without bumping my embouchure.
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