Air Flow Warm-ups

I won't say, these are THE Vincent Cichowicz warm-ups. But the first exercises are more or less +/- the ones that my trumpet teacher at the time, Edward H. Tarr gave us, telling us they were … THE Vincent Cichowicz warm-ups. He also explained what they were good for and how to do them. I don't claim that these are the original Flow Studies. These are exercises based upon my understanding as explained by Edward Tarr to me and the class at the time. I have no idea if Ed got them from Mr. Cichowicz.

The whole idea of these warm-ups, especially those on pages 1-2, are to re-teach your entire playing mechanism each day to get the most relaxed and beautiful sound possible. So the basic dynamic is somewhere between mp - mf. It's ok to not feel good on your highest note or lowest note of any particular exercise. If that's the case, simply do it again, make sure you're not cramping yourself and make this time the one you're playing everything beautifully. There is no goal other than to play beautifully, so if you don't get up to your highest note or down to your your lowest note today, don't worry about it.

I added on pages 3-4 especially to work stepwise down into the lowest register of the bass trombone. They were not in the exercises I got from Ed, but I play them with the same idea. Then I added at the end on page 4 a kind of test: after exploring the upper register and working down into the lowest register, can I then hang them together? The idea here is to be able to perform that arc down to the pedal f and up to the high b-flat and down again in one breathe. That means, that if you're shifting, you know where you need to shift how much AND you still keep the beauty of the sound no matter where you are in the register. That means the goal is not just to reach those extremes, but to do so with the same beautiful sound as previously.

What comes next in my daily routine is 3-5 Bordogni for tuba/bass trombone, which I play an octave lower as well as afterwards, as written. I find the last Cichowicz sets me up very well for this. I will then play a few Concone Op 10 pieces which have a relatively middle to high tessitura. And then another 1-2 Bordogni to relax me again. But that's just me.

Giuseppe Concone's 25 Leçons de chant, Op.10 For Low Voice

As a trumpet player, as compared to similar etudes by Bordogni, I always found these to be rather boring. Of course I was a young punk kid back then, what did I know? But now I find these cool. Something I can play in my own four walls letting my inner Schmalz out, seeing how I can ham it up musically with them.

There are already a couple editions of these for bass clef instruments. And they're published for different singing registers. They're all available on IMSLPçons_de_chant%2C_Op.10_(Concone%2C_Giuseppe)  including a written out piano accompaniment! I chose the edition from low voice for obvious reasons and then transcribed them, making a couple corrections of misprints. But … this (as well as Charlier below) is a “quick and dirty” transcription. I did superficially “check” them, but I'm familier with the traps of music editing, so know … there's no such thing as a perfectly perfect work.

One of my favorite sets of exercises are the Bordogni Etudes as arranged by Chester Roberts for Tuba/Bass Trombone. These are basically a selection of the Rochut/Bordogni etudes, but transposed an octave down. They're great for bass trombone as they stand, but then in order to work on my double-paddle and pedal register, I play them another octave lower. This got me to thinking. The one set of Concone Etudes I posted fit well for tenor. So I then transposed them down an octave and they're also great for lower bass trombone lower register, going down as far as pedal f/f-sharp. So now as a real workout (that's also fun), I play one etude in the lower register and then the same in the upper register. So as it says on the link, one set (with piano accompaniment) is for tenor trombone and the next is for bass trombone. And the idea when I'm playing the lower version is to try and keep the light, breezy feeling downstairs as I do, when playing them upstairs.

Selected etudes from Charlier's 36 Etudes Transcendantes

These are just fun. In fact, they're so much more fun than when I had to play them on the trumpet, that I transcribed a few, setting them sometimes in “more appropriate” keys for trombone than the originals.

Carl Maria von Weber (but probably not from him) Romance

I played this in 1996 for my tenor trombone playing exam. Loved it then. Somewhere I still have that arrangement from Marc Reift's publishing company. I remember at the time, my problem on tenor was not the high c, but rather the low register. When I pulled it out a few weeks ago, actually stumbled onto it in a stack of old music, as usual, things were reversed. The lower register was no problem, but the high c ... well, high b-flat is fine, but c is a 50/50 proposition. I then went on to IMSLP and found it there in a russian edition from the 1930's for Trombone/Cello/Bassoon and Piano. The printing was terrible, lots of places very difficult to read, but there were "differences" singled for the different instruments. And one spot, where the high c was, had also another alternate version. I then decided to write this part out and do some "musical suggestions" editing. Take 'em or leave 'em. But I find this to be a lot of fun on bass trombone. So here the file downloaded from IMSLP plus "my" version of the solo part for (mediocre) bass trombone

Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, Op. 47, arr. Keith Brown

I first ran into this on YouTube in a recording by the great Jacqueline Du Pré. This remains to date my favorite version of the piece. It's been performed well by many other cellists, but … Ms. Du Pre is IMHO still the best. Unfortunately I've always then been disappointed by trombone versions, let alone bass trombone versions. Well played bass trombonistically, but missing the soul of the piece. So I wanted to give it a try. You will notice, there are some changes compared with the original cello part as well as compared with Mr. Brown's version for tenor trombone. I feel, these make the piece a bit more approachable and fits the character of the bass trombone without losing the desired emotional content. Trombone does present technical challenges in this respect, but I do try to directly imitate a cellist, not a great trombonist when playing this.