Common issues

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tbdana
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Common issues

Post by tbdana »

I'm writing something and need a little bit of general information: In teaching the trombone, what would you say are the most common problems/mistakes/issues that private teachers are confronted with, with students with at least one year of experience?

Answers from actual teachers is appreciated.
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Re: Common issues

Post by Posaunus »

Rhythmic accuracy
Lazy intonation
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Re: Common issues

Post by AtomicClock »

5th position
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tbdana
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Re: Common issues

Post by tbdana »

AtomicClock wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 6:51 pm 5th position
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

:idk: :idk: :idk: :idk: :idk:

That's everyone.
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Burgerbob
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Re: Common issues

Post by Burgerbob »

I'd say one of the largest problems (that is trombone specific- of course many beginner students are lacking in basic music skills like time and pitch, etc) is just a lack of embouchure. I don't expect anyone to be really advanced in this regard after a year, but you can tell when a student is just mashing the mouthpiece into the face and only has a range of maybe a 5th as a result.

Again, not the student's fault, but simply how difficult it is to teach those fundamentals.
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Re: Common issues

Post by hyperbolica »

I think students really could benefit from learning ensemble issues more directly. Duets. Or if the studio is large enough, do chamber groups as part of the lesson. What does it feel/sound like to play in/out of tune/time. With more advanced students, ensemble issues tend to be the big roadblock to moving forward.

This and sight reading.
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Re: Common issues

Post by CheeseTray »

My vote is for chronic "under-breathing." Unlike other brass instruments (with lots of resistance-raising bends, valves, and ports to blow against), the simple straight-tubed design of the trombone allows players to create and sustain a tone without enough air volume passing through the horn to make the sound full and resonant - simply put, they just don't have to blow that aggressively to make a sound. So (because less effort still works), most younger, student players fail to put enough air through the instrument quickly enough to generate warmth, intensity, and resonance. That's why student trombonists tend to take longer to develop a somewhat mature sound as opposed to trumpet or euph students. Developing a proper and full airstream in a young trombone players is also a key to making their other mechanical shortcomings resolve more quickly. A full airstream facilitates consistency in articulation, response and pitch.
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Re: Common issues

Post by GGJazz »

Hi all.

I am teaching trombone from maybe 15 years , here in Italy .
Well, after one years of experience , or so , a student have still to face all the issues related to the horn , from holding the slide correctly to set the embouchure , etc.

Anyway , in my opinion , the " mistakes" they most frequently can make , after one years of practice , are the follows :

1) they breath ; then hold the breath ; then set the embouchure ; then blow .

2) they breath in an insufficient way , as when they speak ; no full breath . You do not see any expansion of the abdominals .

3) they do not try to imagine the pitch of the tone they have to play ; so , for example , if they have to play a B 4th position , they results to play a G in the staff ( a major third below).

4) when they articolate , sometimes the tongue come out between the lips , as to split , messing the embouchure.

Of course , every student is different from others , so you will meet different issues among they .

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Giancarlo
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Re: Common issues

Post by harrisonreed »

Trying to make the trombone resonate using mostly just buzzing lips.
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Re: Common issues

Post by Mamaposaune »

The list could be long, but I think the top of the list would include:
*Being able to start a piece on the correct partial. It just requires muscle memory and pitch memory that takes time to develop.
* Ditto for slide placement, hearing intervals, and playing in tune. Even students with a good sense of pitch struggle, I think at least in part because of the mechanics and ergonomics of an inherently awkward instrument.
*Hand position on the slide. Probably the single most common issue I drive my students nuts over, because it is connected to all aspects of playing. Intonation; smooth slurs; fast + accurate slide movement; endurance (keeping the mouthpiece from bouncing all over the face) etc. etc. etc.
*Care of the slide
Last edited by Mamaposaune on Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Common issues

Post by VJOFan »

Sound: generating a pleasing sound that flows from one note to another.
Pitch: not hearing the partial let alone flat or sharp to a specific note.
Rhythm: letting breathing, difficulty of passage/pitch determine when the next note is attempted. Not having an underlying sense of beat, even when playing repeated notes on the same pitch.
Articulation suffers along with all of the above.

The fix is likely, as mentioned above, getting a good embouchure set and learning to not fight the horn.
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Re: Common issues

Post by GabrielRice »

Burgerbob wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 6:58 pm I'd say one of the largest problems (that is trombone specific- of course many beginner students are lacking in basic music skills like time and pitch, etc)
This parenthetical is the key to everything IMO.

If I had my way, music education would start in a concerted way loooong before kids are big enough to even pick up a trombone. Singing, dancing, rhythm games and simple percussion instruments, introducing pitch with simple xylophones and keyboards, etc. It's crazy to me that we teach music notation before kids even understand what they're hearing. It's like trying to teach someone to read before they can even speak.

If we could do that in a really effective way, instrumental issues would be taught in a context of understanding the goal a whole lot better.

Of course, there are methods that do this - Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze - but so often music education starts with "what instrument do you want to try?"
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Re: Common issues

Post by tbdana »

harrisonreed wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 8:49 pm Trying to make the trombone resonate using mostly just buzzing lips.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

I love it. Cross-thread themed humor. Now that's talent! :)
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Re: Common issues

Post by harrisonreed »

tbdana wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:12 am
harrisonreed wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 8:49 pm Trying to make the trombone resonate using mostly just buzzing lips.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

I love it. Cross-thread themed humor. Now that's talent! :)
I mean, I was being serious. You're talking about students who have only been playing for one year. They usually have way too much tension in the face and not enough air flow.
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tbdana
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Re: Common issues

Post by tbdana »

harrisonreed wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:18 am I mean, I was being serious. You're talking about students who have only been playing for one year. They usually have way too much tension in the face and not enough air flow.
That's kind of disappointing. I was grooving on the cleverness of roping in the very next thread. :D

I'm not asking about people who have been playing for one year. I was asking about people who have been playing at least one year. I was trying to weed out the issues faced by bare beginners who are at the "How do I put this thing together, hold it, and get a sound out of it?" phase.
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Re: Common issues

Post by GGJazz »

Hi folks.

Another lack that beginners students mostly have , is that they do NOT listen how trombone have to be played . They do not have trombone recording , so when they blow do not have any idea about how the horn' sound have to result at his best . So , I think it is hard for them to understand concepts as " beautiful , pleasant , resonant , etc " tone . Of course you are playing for them during the lessons , but this can be just an half hour , or so , every week . To me , it is not enough to establish a concept of "trbn sound" in their minds .

I would suggest encouraging them to listen things as Toby Oft or Peter Steiner playing Bordogni vocalises , or Urbie Green playing "Sunny" , etc .
Christian Lindberg "Winter" from Vivaldi , and Bill Watrous "Cadenza" on 4th Floor , could be too much challenging to be appreciated . I guess .

Regards
Giancarlo
Last edited by GGJazz on Thu Feb 29, 2024 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Common issues

Post by Posaunus »

GabrielRice wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:10 am
If I had my way, music education would start in a concerted way loooong before kids are big enough to even pick up a trombone. Singing, dancing, rhythm games and simple percussion instruments, introducing pitch with simple xylophones and keyboards, etc. It's crazy to me that we teach music notation before kids even understand what they're hearing. It's like trying to teach someone to read before they can even speak.

Of course, there are methods that do this - Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze ...
... and do it incredibly well!

:good:
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Re: Common issues

Post by Burgerbob »

GabrielRice wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:10 am

This parenthetical is the key to everything IMO.

I definitely agree. I was lucky enough to be forced to take piano and voice lessons from an early age- I didn't really enjoy them, but boy howdy did that make a difference once I got to band and choir.

This is a huge issue and one worth talking about, of course! I just wanted to point out a trombone mechanics thing that I see often.
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Re: Common issues

Post by Mamaposaune »

GabrielRice wrote:
"If I had my way, music education would start in a concerted way loooong before kids are big enough to even pick up a trombone. Singing, dancing, rhythm games and simple percussion instruments, introducing pitch with simple xylophones and keyboards, etc. It's crazy to me that we teach music notation before kids even understand what they're hearing. It's like trying to teach someone to read before they can even speak.

If we could do that in a really effective way, instrumental issues would be taught in a context of understanding the goal a whole lot better."


YES! YES! YES! Agree 100%, Gabe.
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Re: Common issues

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GGJazz wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:42 amI would suggest encouraging them to listen things as Toby Oft or Peter Steiner playing Bordogni vocalises , or Urbie Green playing "Sunny" , etc .
Christian Lindberg "Winter" from Vivaldi , and Bill Watrous "Cadenza" on 4th Floor , could be too much challenging to be appreciated . I guess .

Regards
Giancarlo
Not just recordings. They should also be encouraged to take advantage of any opportunity to hear good trombone playing live, preferably in an acoustic environment.
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Re: Common issues

Post by Wilktone »

tbdana wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 6:36 pm I'm writing something and need a little bit of general information: In teaching the trombone, what would you say are the most common problems/mistakes/issues that private teachers are confronted with, with students with at least one year of experience?

Answers from actual teachers is appreciated.
Good posture and holding the instrument correctly and consistently. I see this all the time with students who have been playing a lot longer than one year. Fixing those mistakes allows the teacher to make other corrections to breathing and embouchure that otherwise aren't going to stick.
Burgerbob wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 6:58 pm I don't expect anyone to be really advanced in this regard after a year, but you can tell when a student is just mashing the mouthpiece into the face and only has a range of maybe a 5th as a result.
It's worth considering if that is a cause or a symptom. A lot of brass musicians rely on "mash and blow" because they have something else going on that they're trying to compensate for.
GGJazz wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 8:29 pm 1) they breath ; then hold the breath ; then set the embouchure ; then blow .
Yep, that's a common one. Also opening their lips up while breathing so that they have to get their lips into the mouthpiece in the right position as they commence blowing.
GGJazz wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 8:29 pm 4) when they articolate , sometimes the tongue come out between the lips , as to split , messing the embouchure
That's another common one.
harrisonreed wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 8:49 pm Trying to make the trombone resonate using mostly just buzzing lips
harrisonreed wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:18 am I mean, I was being serious. You're talking about students who have only been playing for one year. They usually have way too much tension in the face and not enough air flow.
How do you tell when a player has too much tension in the face? I mean, I've worked with students (and myself) who play on the high side of things, but what sort of characteristics are you looking for and hearing that tell you the player is using too much tension? Are we certain that this is, like mashing up the lips with the mouthpiece, not a symptom of something else happening?

I tend to see students who play with their embouchure formation too loose rather than too tight, particularly when descending. There are some characteristics you can see and hear when this happens.
GabrielRice wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:10 am If I had my way, music education would start in a concerted way loooong before kids are big enough to even pick up a trombone. Singing, dancing, rhythm games and simple percussion instruments, introducing pitch with simple xylophones and keyboards, etc. It's crazy to me that we teach music notation before kids even understand what they're hearing. It's like trying to teach someone to read before they can even speak.
Don't they teach general music classes in the elementary schools in Massachusetts?

Teaching sound before sight has been standard practice, particularly at the elementary school level, for a long time now.

Dave
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Re: Common issues

Post by Burgerbob »

Wilktone wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 10:53 am
Burgerbob wrote: Wed Feb 28, 2024 6:58 pm I don't expect anyone to be really advanced in this regard after a year, but you can tell when a student is just mashing the mouthpiece into the face and only has a range of maybe a 5th as a result.
It's worth considering if that is a cause or a symptom. A lot of brass musicians rely on "mash and blow" because they have something else going on that they're trying to compensate for.


Dave
In early students, it's really just both cause and symptom. They don't know any better either way.
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Re: Common issues

Post by Wilktone »

Burgerbob wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 11:02 am In early students, it's really just both cause and symptom. They don't know any better either way.
Sure, but I think it's worth thinking about whether or not the issue can be eliminated without fixing the cause of the symptom in the first place. Consider posture. We fix the posture first, because without a good posture then good instruction on breathing won't really fix the problem. Same with mashing the lips. If they are mashing their lips because, for example, they are pulling the corners back into a smile then reducing the pressure isn't going to fix the problem. You have to correct the embouchure form first.
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Re: Common issues

Post by GGJazz »

Hi again.

@JohnL . Of course you are right . But is not so easy to have the opportunity to listen live acoustic performance of trombone players , if one is not living in a big City , and not even that often there !
So , the recording are a substitution for this .

Apart this , I have to say that , usually , they are not that enthusiastic about this kind of performance ... A couple of years ago , the Mnozil Brass were playing in a city far about 35/40 miles from where I live .
I told to every of the students around to go , listening ( and watching ) them carefully !
I went , and it was fantastic ! No one of them show up ....
The same for a Steve Turre concert , in Bologna , etc etc.

Regards
Giancarlo
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Re: Common issues

Post by Kbiggs »

Common problems? All of the above.

What do I spend the most time guiding towards a healthier/more efficient way of playing (i.e., correcting)? Air, embouchure, posture (including left and right hand posture), articulation, rhythm, intonation.

It's very easy to make a sound on a trombone, and just about as easy to make an unpleasant sound. it takes patience, guidance, curiosity, persistence, mindfulness, etc., to create pleasant sounds on the trombone, and even more so to make music.

Students are usually just starting to learn about patience, guidance, curiosity, persistence, and mindfulness, etc., in their lives. I sometimes think it's a miracle that they improve... and then I remember my first couple of years on trombone. 🙄
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Re: Common issues

Post by harrisonreed »

Another form of tension, besides in the face (I'm done with that one, not touching it with a ten foot pole), is in the throat or body. A common trend amongst newer collegiate players is as Wilktone describes, with players trying to have a really open embouchure and oral cavity, because "big, open" equals huge sounds, right? Well, no. It doesn't, not necessarily.

You can't have this huge open "everything" for most playing in and above the staff, so the air has to be held back. You hear it in their throat, or maybe see it in the tension in their torso.

For a lot of "new, but playing longer than one year but playing less than ten years" students, they can't get the equilibrium right. Too much air in the lungs with nowhere to go, using the throat, lips, or torso to hold it back, trying to play with this "dark" sound that is just unfocused and not slotted.

It's a problem of air flow, and how students are approaching it. When the teacher's answer is "more warm air" that addresses like :bassclef: :space0: to :line3: , and only in a very vague way. I've heard people trying to use that approach for :tenorclef: :line6: and up, with a lot of "fuzz" in the sound.

The tongue shape isn't even addressed or thought about much.
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Re: Common issues

Post by Wilktone »

Some reading things I was remind of directing a rehearsal tonight.

Very common to loose track of the beat on rests and long notes. They usually get short changed.

Tied notes, particularly across a barline, often get played too long.
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Re: Common issues

Post by baileyman »

Wilktone wrote: Thu Feb 29, 2024 9:10 pm Some reading things I was remind of directing a rehearsal tonight.

Very common to loose track of the beat on rests and long notes. They usually get short changed.

Tied notes, particularly across a barline, often get played too long.
Quarters! So many people sit on or lay back their quarters, even pros. Terminal downward spiral.

Max Bennett told me a young bassist should do nothing but quarters in time to start. It may be everyone should do the same.
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