I just bought my niece a slide trumpet/alto trombone. She tried trombone for a couple of years, but her arms are too short. Does any one know of any good instruction or music books for this instrument? Should she use "Trombone" music or trumpet music? It is supposed to be the same as a regular trombone, only one octave higher. Any one here play one? How do you like it?
First off, just to clarify, you have a soprano trombone, not an alto. An alto is pitched a perfect fourth higher, in Eb.
Regular trombone books won't work because the positions are considerably shorter, and often the parts are written in Bb treble, like trumpet parts. If the arms are that short, but truly want to eventually move to trombone, perhaps start with a baritone so the transition won't be so jarring. If you're adamant about playing the slide trumpet, use a trumpet book, and you'll have to teach the correlation between the valve combinations and slide positions.
It is a little late since you have already purchased a new instrument, but if your niece liked the trombone did you look into one with a trigger? It is the same proportion as a regular trombone, but the trigger allows for alternative slide positions for the notes that really stretch the arm. I had to learn a secondary brass instrument while in college. I am a trumpet player, so low brass was new to me including learning the bass clef. I was fortunate enough to be able to use a trombone with a trigger because I am only 5'3 with short arms. I could manage 7th position on a regular trombone... but my lips couldn't stay on the mouthpiece. :O
For Soprano trombone/slide trumpet, get trumpet music. The trigger on an Bb/F trombone helps the player hit lower notes. I just started trombone last year and got a Bass trombone from the school. I play in orchestra and the trigger helps with notes. For example, the not C is played in 6th on a regular tenor trombone, but with a trigger, it's T1. Bb is played T3. Some lower notes however need the length of the slide. The C below the bar line is played as T7.5 and can be only hit with a trigger. Hope this helps!
The thing is, the instrument you bought is virtually not used at all in ''standard'' repertoire. She will be able to play trumpet stuff on it, however if she plays in a band or orchestra, she most probably will have to play the part on an actual trumpet.
The soprano trombone is also very hard to play in tune, as positions are a lot closer, therefore a very slight difference in position lenght means a very flat or sharp note.
Trumpet would be a wiser choice IMO, and if she wants to stick with the trombone, there are some alternatives out there for young student whose arms are not long enough yet. Yamaha makes an interesting model with 6 positions and a reverse trigger that pitches the instrument in C and allows for the C and B to be played in 1st and 2nd position. This could be an option until she is able to play on a real-sized horn.
Yes, sorry it is a soprano trombone. Trumpet music, good, I've got loads of that. If she ends up liking trumpet more than trombone, that's fine with me. She can use my silver tone King. As long as some one enjoys playing the slide trumpet I'll be happy. Heck I might even try it. I did find one book for the posistions and one on the history of the slide trumpet. Seems they are considered to have a more mellow, and complex tone than the valved trumpets.
Hard to play? That's what practice takes care of. I was told that when I started violin. I now play violin, viola and cello. If I find a good deal on a double bass I'll buy and learn that too. In the mean time I'm learning to play flute too. I've played trumpet since grade school, and baritone since Jr. High. In high school I learned Tuba/sousaphone. Untill I learned to play the violin, trumpet was my favorite. Now I love the violin. Some day I'll have to learn trombone and french horn too.
This is a very nice site, and thank you very much for your help.
By the way, it is not a slide trumpet, it is a soprano trombone. A slide trumpet is an early instrument from the Renaissance era. You don't come across them nowadays unless you go to an early music concert with historical instruments.
The slide trumpet is derived from the natural trumpet. There are a few different types. Some only have a single telscopic tube, and they are held with one hand on the mouthpipe so the mouthpiece stays against your lip, and the other hand moving the instrument. Some have a short double slide operated with one hand, others are basically a natural trumpet with a small attachment with a short thumb-operated slide. One thing is certain, any slide trumpet is more similar in shape to a trumpet and only features a short slide with a limited range of action.
Slide trumpets are not S-shaped, and their slide is not long enough to allow the full chromatic scale to be played, for these are the characteristics that define a trombone and draw the line between it and a trumpet.
Then, the difference in practice is the part each instrument plays. The soprano trombone was not used a lot. You mostly find parts for it in Renaissance and Baroque litterature from the city-state of Leipzig, because the brass ensembles there used a complete trombone choir : bass in D, tenor in A, alto in D, soprano in A. Some cantatas by Bach from his time in Leipzig use this instrumentation. However Leipzig was alone in its league, and is virtually the only place where the soprano trombone was used. You should read the Historic Brass Society Journal 17, as there are two relevant articles, one of which specifically approaches our topic, the difference between slide trumpets and trombones. The other one is from Howard Weiner and is about the makeup of the trombone section in the 18th and 19th century, and Weiner shows where the different instruments of the family were used at different times.
Back on topic, there are a couple of videos on Youtube featuring real slide trumpets, you should check them out.
She wants to play the trombone but her arm is too short? How about the valve trombone? The slide is out there, but it is not used. The fingering is the same as the baritone or trumpet. It's kind of fun when everyone expects to see the slide moving as you play, but you are just using your fingers on the valves! Hope she enjoys her playing, whichever instrument she chooses.
Valve trombone...Problem is, the intonation is always very difficult on valve trombones. And people almost excusively use slide trombones, which mean that sooner or later she would have to go back to a slide.
But as a learning instrument while waiting for her arms to grow long enough, this could be a good idea, as it is the same embouchure technique, and the valve fingerings and slide positions are related.