The Mighty Trombone

playing-the-tromboneOtherwise known as ‘Bone, T-bone, Posaune, Sackbut, Slugepump, ‘To me To you’ (too soon?), and my accurate favourite, ‘The King of Instruments’!

The most musically versatile of instruments. The Trombone can be found in almost every musical combination. From Orchestra’s to Brass Bands, Symphonic Wind Bands to Big Bands, Dixieland Bands to Ska groups. Trombonists are everywhere!

The simplest of instruments. Nine feet of brass tubing with a slide to alter the length and therefore the pitch. No valves to interfere with the purest of tonal sound production. You don’t need to put your hand in the bell to surcease the nasty tones (French Horn!).  Not a need to finish every piece an octave higher and cut-off after every other musician has stopped (why do trumpet players do that??).

And, more often than not, played by a ‘breed’ of brass musician who realise their importance as the backbone of the group. No need for standing ovations, as when a trombonist has finished their work, they will be usually in the bar before your hands can impact together!

Trombonists know their worth. The foundation that all others must follow (i.e. the conductor!!)

Trombones to the Fore

beginner trombonistMy outset onto musical fulfilment started at the age of 11. I came across an old Besson Trombone my Dad used for teaching a still-life art class, and once he had given me the basic instructions of how to produce the sound, I was hooked. Nowadays you can get this ‘Buzz’ (both physically and psychologically) from one of our brilliant pBuzz instruments.

Before long, I was ‘tooting’ out Geno by Dexy’s and receiving peripatetic tuition from a great Teesside Brass teacher called Jack Kitching.  Progress was good. After enduring the initial period of coping with a battered old school trombone, that continually tasted of century-old Brasso, time for investment arose.These days students don’t have to endure age-old aromas and pieces of tissue for a spit-key!

sonata-tromboneFor under £200 you can buy an outstanding Sonata Trombone. Unbelievable price. Unbelievable quality.

I was sceptical when I first tried one, but how wrong I was.

The yellow brass build results in a full, bright tone across all registers, and due to its medium bore size, the higher registers are no problem at all.

In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, a 6th Form Student came in to test some trombones, and he had just passed his Grade 8 on a Sonata Trombone!

Bone Structure 

conn 88hMy first purchase occurred with a visiting instrument dealer visiting my local Grangetown Brass Band one rehearsal, and my hard-earnt savings were offloaded. Jack advised me to purchase the Conn Trombone that was on offer, and it was wonderful. Jack was instrumental (pun intended!) in my development as a trombonist.

‘Hootenanny’, ‘The Acrobat’, ‘Eyelevel’ and ‘Holiday for Trombones’, were part of my enjoyable initial repertoire.  Standing up for regular solo’s, I found the applause addictive. I wanted more!

A couple of years later I also joined another band. The local Redcar Silverwood Wind Band, under the excellent leadership of Alan Waller. Here I was (quickly) introduced to Bass Clef, and those pesky Trumpets!

Alan also ran a local Dance Band with which I was invited to perform with. Playing alongside Arthur and Alan Morrison, I embraced the performance aspect of improvisation.

Two bands, two clefs, one trombone, multiple smiles!

Trombone King

A career in Trombone performance was an obvious, and passionate root to take.

Following the advice of Jack, “just join the best lad”, I auditioned for Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service, in Deal, Kent. I fully embraced and enjoyed both the military role, the comradery and the musical excellence from without doubt, the world’s finest military band. The Royal Marines are not only the best, but very generous.  Here I was issued with a beautiful and bright silver Besson Sovereign Trombone, but quickly upgraded (I was friends with the Sergeant in charge!) to an amazing Conn 8H in Silver finish. You don’t need me to tell you how good these instruments are, just have a look at any professional trombone section, and you’ll see an 8 or 88H being played.

Throughout my military career, I had a few different trombones that served me handsomely.  The key goal being a suitable instrument that was as versatile as the musical combinations I performed in. These included a Bach Strad 36 and a Rath R3; both excellent in their own right.

Trombonology

yamaha-tromboneTo be honest, I don’t think I ever found the ‘perfect’ versatile trombone. One that had the depth and width of mellow tone to appease the orchestral repertoire of Wagner and Tchaikovsky.

One that could then project the passages of Alford or Karl King marches during outdoor pomp & pageants. Yet at the next moment could easily achieve the sonorous tones and higher register articulation of Dorsey or Mark Nightingale. However…I do think Yamaha have listened to me, and produced the ‘holy grail’ of a versatile trombone!

As one of the world’s top manufacturers of musical instruments, Yamaha have invested heavily in developing the finest instrument catalogue. The Yamaha YSL445GE Bb Trombone I believe meets the enigmatic demand of true versatility.

It has a large bore (only 0.5mm less than the Conn 8H) yet accepts small/medium shank sized mouthpieces.  Alongside its Gold-Brass bell section, this results in a warm and full tone, but with the ability to also project in a bright and articulate manner during the highest and trickiest of passages. If you, like I have done throughout my playing career, want an instrument that is suited to all styles of music, this is it.

As for marching outside with it playing a bit of Colonel Bogey or Trafalgar, I can only imagine it would be a total and tonal success. Unfortunately, the knees and lower back are no longer in a position to verify! Obviously, if versatility isn’t an issue for you, then we can offer a great range of Trombones dedicated to your specific style. The full range from Yamaha, Conn, Elkhart, Bach etc. are available, at Normans Musical Instruments.  Please come down and try them in our showroom. We might even do a duet!

 

Trombone Encore

plastic-tromboneSo, to conclude. If you buy yourself or someone else a trombone as a surprise gift, even a brilliant, colourful plastic pBone, it could easily lead to great things.

(Musical) World Domination.  Financial Multiplication.  Conductor (psychological) Devastation! Normans Musical Instruments is here to help you achieve the same goals I have achieved.

Back of the net!

About the author

Nick joined the Normans Sales Team after a musical career spanning 35 years; firstly as a principal trombonist in Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service for 24 years, performing around the UK and worldwide, including on the Royal Yacht Britannia, and then within the education sector teaching GCSE and A Level Music and Music Technology. He is a keen Big Band, Jazz performer and Hi-Fi enthusiast.

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