Arthur Marshall

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This is a bit that may well expand over time, which, oddly enough, is what happens to trombones when you blow down them.  Well, it does if you want to get many notes out of the things anyway…

I started playing trombone back in 2011, when I bought an alto on the grounds that it was smaller and less objectionable to the neighbours. However, as I dislike most of my neighbours intensely* and the alto was a bit pointless, I bought a tenor after all and started learning properly.

Having been invited to join the Moss Rose Community Band I battered my way into the learning group there which was extremely helpful to a novice blower and then graduated to the main band round about March 2013.

I played a Conn 77H horn which I bought on Ebay for around a hundred quid and which, while a bit battered and needing the odd repair, makes a pretty nice noise.  I discovered Rudy Muck mouthpieces after experimenting with all sorts of things, and ended up using an old refurbished 23 which is nearly as old as me and yet still goes parp in fine style.

The Conn has now been replaced with a French beast made by Antoine Courtois with a larger bore and and therefore much harder to blow.  But I’m getting there, and the tone is lovely.  Sometimes.

The most useful thing I found was to practice against midi files and, just in case anyone out there in the real world is looking for the same sort of thing, you can find them on this link.  I have files to accompany the two Time Pieces books which are a natural follow on from the Tune a Day books (which I really, really, don’t like at all) and now a nice collection by Christopher Mowat called Slide Show, some baroque music in a book rather wittily called Festival Baroque, and I’ve just acquired another Mowat book called Bach for Trombone.  You’ll never guess who wrote the pieces…

The big advantage of midi files is that you can speed them up and slow them down very easily which is great if you are learning stuff. I play them on a Roland midi player, the MT90U which plays both midis and MP3s and which also works on my boat when I go on holiday, but they play just as well on a computer.  Handy stuff.

I do the same with the tunes we play with the Brass band - record them and then use them to practice against. Much nicer being part of a band than just playing your own part by itself, and you can see how it all fits together, which you often can’t at a rehearsal when you’ve got a stack of squeaky trumpets demolishing your eardrums and a raft of variously sized horn things making weird noises in what appears to be retaliation.  And you can hardly hear the sweet sound of your fellow trombonists as they attempt to bring some class to the proceedings…

Anyway, there we are.  Trombones rule.

*Since writing this nonsense I have moved house and would just like to stress that my new neighbours are lovely and nothing like the evil-minded, aggressive, noisy and unpleasant lot I had last time!

The Trombone Pages

Brass band music, links to practice files and midi backing tracks and some info about the Moss Rose Community Brass band of Macclesfield.