Making the switch daily - by Brian Bindner, 2nd/Bass Trombone at the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
This article is about my thoughts and experiences on switching between tenor and bass trombone - easy for some, hard for others, but there's absolutely no reason why it shouldn´t be easy for all.
I've been a tenor/bass trombone player professionally for 25 years, and I can highly recommend this: have patience.
It's all about making a soft switch, starting out with the gear that is the closest to the gear you are used to, and then expand from there. And expand over years - not months. There's no pushing this - your embouchure needs time to adjust, and you don't do your self any favors by pushing the time limit for this proccess.
I am firstly a tenor trombone player, and when I started out, in 1992 - 18 years old, I was told to play 3rd trombone for Verdi operas - and that was a blessing in disguise for me, meaning that I could get by playing a small bass trombone mouthpiece, on a small one valve bass trombone. In hindsight, this was the ( for me ) most perfect way to start my bass trombone journey.
My main practice has always been on the tenor, only practicing the bass when needed, if the music needed play through a, or if I wanted to expand my register on the bass, maybe try out larger mouthpieces. In other words, I can always pick up the bass trombone and play standard gigs without too much practice, and save the hard core practice for big titles or solo pieces. In other periods, I've had both horns up and running at the same time ( mainly auditions ) and have always tried to not think too hard about what horn I'm holding, but tried to think 'a trombone is a trombone, bass or tenor' - this mentality, I do believe has helped me in getting the most natural style of playing, weather it's on the bass or on the tenor.
Some good tips for expanding your Bass embouchure:
- Start on a small bass mouthpiece - whatever you play on the tenor, go only slightly up in size for the bass - every month try to push it a bit more. If it feels like you don´t have any control at all, or if the sound becomes dull - play on the smaller size for another couple of weeks.
- Rochut - lots and lots of Rochut ( Bordogni etudes )
- Practise daily on both horns taking only small rests between switching.
Tenor Trombone playing:
Bass Trombone playing: