Choosing the correct instrument

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BrassSection
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Choosing the correct instrument

Post by BrassSection »

As the only brass player in a contemporary Christian worship band, I get to choose which instrument to play for each song. Asked leader to let me know if he has any preference for which horn, he always replies “Just keep doing what you’re doing”. Some songs beg for trumpet, others trombone, some euphonium, and a few the French horn fits well. I always choose what I think will work best with what we are playing, but occasionally when we get partway into a new song at practice I’ll have second thoughts and switch horns to what I think works better with what the guitars, keys, vocals and drums are doing. My question is, is there a good way to musically choose which horn to use, or just go with my instincts? Have several former trumpet players, trombone players, and some French horn players in the congregation, all have commentated about enjoying what I add.

As a side note, a few big time groups do have limited brass, but usually only a trumpet or trombone to cover a few songs as needed.
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WilliamLang
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by WilliamLang »

a combination of trumpet and trombone might take you the farthest, imho.
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JohnL
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by JohnL »

Sounds like the band leader trusts your instincts. You should, too.
BrassSection
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by BrassSection »

Trumpet and trombone get the most play, sometimes only one of them for the whole service. Euph may get in the mix on the same day, and twice all 4 horns have been used in the same service.

Guess I’m not confident in my instincts, being that my formal music training stopped after high school and that was baritone only. Add to the fact the leader is a nephew, one of the electric guitar players is a nephew, and one of the rotating bass guitar players is my grandson, I always wonder how objective their feedback is. Another rotating bass player is also a local band director and tuba professional, hopefully I can trust his feedback. I will sometimes ask him his advice on horn choice, majority of the time he picks what I had thought of. Choice made basically on song style, high energy gets trumpet, mellow stuff gets horn or euph, and trombone also good for some high energy songs.
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JKno
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by JKno »

JohnL wrote: Wed May 24, 2023 5:26 pm Sounds like the band leader trusts your instincts. You should, too.
^^^THIS^^^
Pezza
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by Pezza »

This is Trombonechat, so isn't the obvious answer trombone (or bass trombone) 😀
Am I a trombone player who plays euphonium, or a euphonium player who plays trombone? :idk:
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by Mikebmiller »

Do you get a doubling fee for each horn?
BrassSection
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by BrassSection »

My weekly pay of $0 is doubled for each horn I use!
BrassSection
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by BrassSection »

Just a question for the pros:

How often do you have last minute key changes, how are they handled, and is it up to you to transpose if necessary? Sunday morning showed up for practice and first thing we hear is first song is going from E to C due to a singer change. Get song list mid week so we can get familiar with it, so my Dropbox chord chart was in E. Leader went to my grandson the bass player and handed him printed sheets in C and asked if he was ok with playing in C. (He was) Leader looked at me and said you probably don’t need them and I agreed. I’m ok doing that on any horn but French horn, that taxes my gray cells too much. Fortunately the only time it happened on horn it was a full step drop so I just needed to change tuning slide to stick with a single transpose. This week low brass got a rest, everything was played on trumpet. Hate it when that happens!

I’m not complaining, I'm used to it. Just wondering how it works for you paid players.
Digidog
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by Digidog »

If there is any change in the notes I'm expected to play, it's either not my business to implement those changes, or someone has to offer me payment (or an agreement of some kind) to make them.

In about 95% of all my gigs there is very little rehearsal time, and it's common with no rehearsals at all, so I expect all note material to be in order when I get it; if it's not it's not my problem. If it is a combo jazz gig, where the songs are more like guides for an improvised ensemble performance, I have no opinions about what keys the vocalist/band leader wants for a tune (we played Autumn Leaves in Db some time ago).

If I'm hired as a musician I have to make it very clear that any extra responsibility has to be agreed upon in advance, or I would all too soon find myself covering up all sorts of bad planning from those producing the event and/or band leaders.
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BrassSection
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by BrassSection »

Our rehearsals are a must, with only chord charts and rotating players and singers, songs are slightly different each time depending on what each player adds. We have 3 different keyboard players, 3 rotating bass players, one of which also rotates with a drummer. Also verse, chorus, and bridges are not always played the same number of times from service to service. Any familiar song is also subject to key changes at any time. No keys are off limits, B, D, and E are frequent, A, Db, C, F#, and Gb (yeah, I know…) are common, and an occasional Ab, Bb, G, or F.
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Finetales
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by Finetales »

I used to play on a worship team as the only brass player in the way you're describing (sometimes keys as well).

The fundamental thing to remember is 99.9% of the time, the rest of the worship team (especially if they are volunteer) and ESPECIALLY congregation know nothing about brass so it's entirely up to you to decide what to use on each song. Play a different horn every week and any comments you get (mostly the usual comments from the congregation telling you they love what you bring to the service) won't change. Even with the former brass players in your congregation, if you sound good on all the horns they won't care which one you play. In fact, they'll probably enjoy seeing you switch it up week to week.

When I played on a worship team I used cornet the most, but I also regularly used other horns including trumpet, flugelhorn, French horn, mellophonium, trombone, and flugabone. I would often bring multiple horns to service and switch depending on the song (or even in the same song). The only "trick" I might suggest for assigning horns to songs is using something that doesn't totally overlap with the range of the vocalist. If it's a high voice, a low brass instrument might be a better choice, while a low voice might be better paired with high brass. But you're also going to have keys and guitar pounding away in the mid-low register all the time, which is why I tended to favor the higher brass when I did it.
BrassSection wrote: Mon Jun 12, 2023 4:43 pm How often do you have last minute key changes, how are they handled, and is it up to you to transpose if necessary? Sunday morning showed up for practice and first thing we hear is first song is going from E to C due to a singer change.
Any time different singers are involved, you have to be ready to transpose to whatever. Fortunately most CCM tunes have really basic chord changes. It helps when you're improvising for the entire service, with only occasional actual melody lines to play from the record.
BrassSection
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by BrassSection »

I appreciate the advice Finetales!

One member of the worship team is a band director and pro tuba player, I often ask him to be the tie breaker if I’m debating between 2 horns. He only plays bass guitar and drums for worship, but has he threatened to bring his tuba someday when he is scheduled for bass guitar! He is handy to have, like me he can cover anything brass when we put together an ensemble, and he can do any arrangements needed so all Important parts can be covered. I have covered bass guitar part a time or two with my euph for worship, before my grandson became bass player #3. Worked ok. (Last minute deals, didn’t have my tuba with me)

Had a youth ask me if he could try playing at practice this week, always glad to see the youth step up! Only issue is, he switched from baritone to tuba, and he only has a tuba. Told him to bring it this week, just to try him out on a horn he is familiar with, but long term if he pans out I asked his band director if a baritone or euph was available, thinking we really don’t need a bass guitar and a tuba! There’s always my euph for now he can use on Sundays if he sticks with it.
David123
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Re: Choosing the correct instrument

Post by David123 »

BrassSection wrote: Wed May 24, 2023 4:17 pm As the only brass player in a contemporary Christian worship band, I get to choose which instrument to play for each song. Asked leader to let me know if he has any preference for which horn, he always replies “Just keep doing what you’re doing”. Some songs beg for trumpet, others trombone, some euphonium, and a few the French horn fits well. I always choose what I think will work best with what we are playing, but occasionally when we get partway into a new song at practice I’ll have second thoughts and switch horns to what I think works better with what the guitars, keys, vocals and drums are doing. My question is, is there a good way to musically choose which horn to use, or just go with my instincts? Have several former trumpet players, trombone players, and some French horn players in the congregation, all have commentated about enjoying what I add.

As a side note, a few big time groups do have limited brass, but usually only a trumpet or trombone to cover a few songs as needed.
Sounds like they appreciate your talent very much. All the best.
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