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Thread: Tips on juggling multiple instruments?

  1. #1

    Tips on juggling multiple instruments?

    I started a thread asking the community on how much and often we should be practicing..
    http://www.dwerden.com/forum/showthr...nd-frequencies

    ... got many helpful posts!. I forgot to comment that I'm now on a 2nd instrument, and possibly looking into a 3rd instrument. May as well just make this into another thread, here. AFAIK, the premise here is similar? Any tips for those who play multiple instruments?

    All I've heard were from fellow band members who say more times than not, plans can tend to go out the window. For example, another euphonium player ended up spending the whole summer break practicing exclusively on trombone.

    .

    Euphonium is my main instrument, so definitely focus on that. Will continue playing this in community band whenever we can pick up with that again.

    I have a hand-me-down flute, so that's very low upfront cost there. Self taught, been playing it for a few months. I've managed to go from not being able to do anything, to making notes with decent success rates (my range is low F/F4 to middle G/G5), although still need to work on long tones, and increasing those success rates. Need to look up how articulation should work here :\ Nice thing with flute is I can practice it even after noise ordnance kicks in (although I still limit it to no latter than mid evening)

    I've been holding off on buying a trumpet (the instrument I started off with, after piano), on account of time management with practicing euphonium :x I'm thinking if this ended up eating time into euphonium practice, it wouldn't be that bad since there is decent overlap between that and euphonium. I'll likely want to invest in a practice mute here as well.

  2. #2
    As one who plays multiple instruments, there are upsides and downsides. One upside is that playing a different instrument and musical style informs the others. For example, classical piano and euphonium work well together, or a "folk" instrument and euphonium. There are many downsides though. You need to put in serious work to reap this benefit, especially if you are learning a new instrument. Otherwise you will lack proficiency in all of them. Think in terms of how many *hours* each day you can devote to practice. I don't see much benefit in splitting time between trumpet and euphonium. The valve technique is similar, but the sound technique (air and embouchure) requires dedicated practice. It's not about pushing the buttons, it's all about producing beautiful sound. I'd stick with euphonium if I were you!

  3. #3
    I play multiple instruments with decent success. Euphonium is clearly my main instrument, and I devote most of my time to it. But I do also play a lot of trombone, tenor in one orchestra and bass in another. I also occasionally play Eb tuba, and this requires a bit of practice to get my tuba chops acceptable. Changing back and forth between euphonium and tenor trombone is easy and I use the same mouthpiece. Switching to bass trombone is not too hard, but I need to play bass trombone more to really develop a better facility on that horn. I play enough to "get by", but could clearly be better. I have played concerts where I played both euphonium and bass trombone, one right after the other, and the switch was not difficult.

    What is difficult in juggling multiple instruments is going from a euphonium sized mouthpiece to a trumpet sized mouthpiece. Read on.

    My latest challenge may be the hardest one regarding multiple instruments. I have joined Bugles Across America, a non-profit outfit that supplies volunteer "live" buglers to play at the funerals of Veterans. This is being done due mostly to the shortage and/or non-availability of live military buglers to cover all of the Veteran funerals around the country (if there is no live bugler, the Veteran "may" get a recording of Taps). I recently obtained a Getzen American Heritage Field Trumpet (essentially a no-valve bugle). I also got the "G" slide option, which changes the bugle from a Bb horn to a G horn. The only piece I have to play is Taps, and by choosing to use the G slide, I can play it a minor third lower than the traditional Bb key, and it sounds fine this way. But, even lower, this is still a challenge for me. I started on trumpet in 5th grade, and switched to baritone/euphonium in 8th grade. I never was very good on trumpet. Right now, since I just got the bugle, it is difficult for me to play this bugle and sound good. I will have to develop some trumpet chops, and it remains to be seen if this will negatively impact my euphonium playing or not. But I will do whatever it takes to get to a good sounding Taps as I really believe that our Veterans deserve this as part of their final service. Hearing a recording or seeing someone "play" a plastic bugle where the recorded Taps comes from this plastic thing is just totally unacceptable to me. Veterans deserve better.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  4. I’ve been playing euphonium for 18 months after a 40 year break. My high range is starting to improve, but after playing trumpet for a couple of weeks or so, my high B flat (TC) disappeared completely. Weird. I left the trumpet alone for a week, and the B flat gradually reappeared.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    171
    In college, my first studio professor could always tell if I picked up my trumpet during the week, even once. My tone was noticeably thinner to the trained ear. If you play enough, you can always tell when a trombone player tries to play euphonium. There is no mistaking that sound.

    My advice is to be very cognizant of the differences among instruments. Airflow and shape of your embochure can vary widely, even between trombone and euphonium. Staying aware of what those differences are when switching may help mitigate the issues that might arise when doing it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    NYC metro area
    Posts
    371
    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    [snip]I recently obtained a Getzen American Heritage Field Trumpet (essentially a no-valve bugle). I also got the "G" slide option, which changes the bugle from a Bb horn to a G horn. The only piece I have to play is Taps, and by choosing to use the G slide, I can play it a minor third lower than the traditional Bb key, and it sounds fine this way. [snip]
    About 55 years ago I was in boy scouts, got myself appointed the troop bugler, and bought the official boy scout bugle. I remember it cost $10 and it was pitched in G. I had thought at the time that bugles pitched in G were the official military standard. I also played bugle for my day camp, when we would lower the colors at the end of each day (different world back then, huh?). I recall that the one time I had my school horn with me (typical American baritone), I played taps in Bb because I thought it was always supposed to be played in the open key for the horn you were using.

    Skip ahead five and a half decades. For Taps Across America this year, I played taps on my euphonium in Bb, as the sponsors requested. I have no idea what happened to that boy scout bugle, and I'm guessing my parents gave it away when I later concentrated on piano.

    I am curious: did the U.S. military play bugles in G back in the mid-20th century, or was I mistaken? Have they since then switched to Bb? Or do they simply say that if Taps is played on trumpet, it should be in Bb?
    Dean L. Surkin
    Mack Brass MACK-EU1150S, BB1, Kadja, and DE 101XTG9 mouthpieces
    Bach 36B trombone; pBone; Vincent Bach (from 1971) 6.5AL mouthpiece
    Steinway 1902 Model A, restored by AC Pianocraft in 1988; Kawai MP8, Yamaha KX-76
    See my avatar: Jazz (the black cockapoo) and Delilah (the cavapoo puppy) keep me company while practicing

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by dsurkin View Post
    About 55 years ago I was in boy scouts, got myself appointed the troop bugler, and bought the official boy scout bugle. I remember it cost $10 and it was pitched in G. I had thought at the time that bugles pitched in G were the official military standard. I also played bugle for my day camp, when we would lower the colors at the end of each day (different world back then, huh?). I recall that the one time I had my school horn with me (typical American baritone), I played taps in Bb because I thought it was always supposed to be played in the open key for the horn you were using.

    Skip ahead five and a half decades. For Taps Across America this year, I played taps on my euphonium in Bb, as the sponsors requested. I have no idea what happened to that boy scout bugle, and I'm guessing my parents gave it away when I later concentrated on piano.

    I am curious: did the U.S. military play bugles in G back in the mid-20th century, or was I mistaken? Have they since then switched to Bb? Or do they simply say that if Taps is played on trumpet, it should be in Bb?
    I share a similar past as being a Boy Scout bugler while my dad was stationed in Germany in the 1950's.

    As for the bugle, Bb as far as I know. I think today that The U.S. Army Band is the only one of the main service bands in the Washington, D.C. area that uses a bugle for funerals. They are made by Bach. And they are Bb bugles. The other premier service bands use a Bb trumpet and play Taps in Bb. That is not to say that buglers from other military bands around the world might play Taps in a different key on their trumpet. It can be done in G by just using 1&2 the whole way. My bugle from Getzen is a Bb bugle, but I got an additional slide that replaces the main tuning slide and puts the bugle in G so that I can sound Taps a little lower (good for my non-trumpet chops).

    During the recent Memorial Day Moment of Remembrance, I know some trumpet players played Taps in G (my band director for one). He is 86 and his chops have seen better days, so that works better for him. Playing the Getzen bugle with the G slide, Taps sounds really nice.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  8. #8
    I'm late to the party, but that's because I've been thinking about how to really respond to this. I'm not even as much of a musician as I was in high school, but that's what being away from playing real music in real ensembles for over 10 years will do for you. I do, however, have a huge collection of instruments that I maintain some level of proficiency with.

    So for starters, 10 minutes per day is pretty light for a brass instrument. For two instruments, I'm not sure it will even count. The fact that the two instruments are incredibly different is a massive hindrance, not a benefit.

    I'm a hobbyist. I mostly doodle around, play with YouTube music, and just generally enjoy the huge variety of sounds that I have at my disposal. My background is mostly French Horn, but I dabbled enough that I became fearless of playing other instruments pretty early in my learning. As a result, I've acquired the skills that it takes for me to pick up almost any brass instrument and have my ears and lips adjusted as well as they're going to be in less than a minute. Regardless, I don't have much confidence in my Tuba embouchure, and I basically never play Bb Trumpet. Why? Well, I pretty much never played Tuba until I bought one and I can't "blow-to-pitch" in that range very well. As for the Bb Trumpet, it is a completely different animal to every other brass instrument. It feels different to play and the techniques are almost completely incompatible. Rotary Trumpet is a little more compatible to what I'm used to, but I still need a better mouthpiece for mine. Either way, it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain skills between instruments that are so different.

    So what does it take for hobbyist guy with huge collection to maintain a mediocre high brass embouchure with 2.5 octave range? More than half an hour a day with multiple consecutive days. Seriously close to 2 hours of doodling around between multiple instruments just for my own entertainment. If I were actually trying to learn music for a community band AND doubling, I would have to use a lot of trickery to get myself ready for prime time. Probably 20 hours or more of practice per week.

    Some tricks to make it work
    - Make it a habit and a hobby so you're spending more than 10 minutes per day. You need to develop the technique to essentially blow whatever note your ear can hear.
    - Don't use mouthpieces that you're just ok with. Go buy mouthpieces that you love. You don't have time to struggle with this part.
    - If you have any music that's hard to play, use your best instrument to practice it first. You can transition it later. I used to do this when I got hard licks in Horn music all the time.
    - Scales, scales, scales. Just running up and down G to G to G and C to C to C (as treble clef) is essential to keeping your ears and lips in sync. If you have time for nothing else, you better make time for this.


    Lemme take a second to clarify something. Many people judge various obscure instruments by how they perform compared to the "typical" brass instruments that they're used to, but the fact is that, Tuba aside, the brass instruments in the modern wind band are all pretty unique to the average. Other than Tuba, Euphonium is the closest thing to a "normal" brass instrument in how it plays, but it's had a ridiculous amount of time and technology poured into making it something that plays great even in low quality form. French Horn is nothing like any other common instrument and has also had hundreds of years of tech put into its design. A good Horn has ridiculous range and great intonation, and neither of those things make any sense when you know how brass instruments generally function. Trumpet, Cornet, and Trombone behave totally different to the conical instruments that are 99% of everything else. Having a tight pitch center, good slotting, and good intonation all at the same time is not typical. Not saying that half an octave of pitch bend (like the Mellophonium) is normal either, but you can't approach Trumpet and Euphonium anywhere near the same.
    Hobbyist. Collector. Oval rotary guy. Unpaid shill for Josef Klier mouthpieces.

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