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Bass Trombone Masterclass Notes

Bass Trombone (Elijah Schuh)

Bass trombone is part of the trombone family. Larger than the tenor trombone, it is used to play the lowest part in the trombone section and shares parts with not only the trombones, but the tubas as well. The bass trombone is used regularly in orchestral, wind band, and jazz band repertoire and also has a growing base of solo works. The bass trombone is a cylindrical bore instrument which gives it a pointier and more forward sound than the mellow tone of the euphonium and tuba.

The standard bass trombone has a 9.5 inch bell and it has two triggers, one in the key of F and the other in G flat. It comes in Independent and dependent configurations. Independent means that you are able to use the F and G flat triggers by themselves or together, while Dependent means that the G flat trigger can only be used while the F trigger is already down, it depends on the F trigger for it to work.

Due to the bass trombone being larger than the tenor trombone, you have to approach playing it a little differently. For starters, you will need a larger mouthpiece than tenor. This will help facilitate playing the low notes as well as producing a good tone. Bass trombone has a wider sound than tenor, it is more round throughout the entire range. Students can achieve this by having more space in the inside of their mouth. I like to think of a cathedral in my mouth, very tall and deep.

When it comes to posture, It is basically the same as any trombone. However, the tendencies to be lazy with posture are going to be greater because the instrument is much heavier and your arm will get tired sooner. Having two triggers, it is important that the students are placing their left hand in the correct position.

This is the most efficient and healthiest way to position your left hand while playing the bass trombone. The right hand should be in a “Spock” form on the slide.

At the bottom of this document is a playlist of bass trombonists for your students to listen to. While listening, be conscious of their tone, technique in the slide and articulations, how do they hold the instrument and how is their posture? Always be watching and listening to these aspects and then try to apply them to your own playing. Listening to great musicians is one of the best ways to learn!

From the UWSP Honor Band 2020 Masterclass: Seth Mahoney, Holden Midyett, Elijah Schuh, Caleb Deleske, and Dr. Lawrence.

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