I remember always being surrounded by music when I was a child growing up in Los Angeles. 

My mother used to play her many classical music LP records -- for those too young to know, these were 12-inch vinyl discs which reproduced sound through the amplification of small vibrations from a needle tracking the disc's spiral groove!  I listened to these constantly.  She also taught rhythm to a bunch of us noisy kids by handing us various percussion instruments (maracas, bongos, toy xylophone, even a 4-quart saucepan and a wooden spoon would do!) and having us accompany her while she played familiar songs on the piano with my father singing along.  When camping, we would always have sing-alongs by the fire as she played the guitar.  I suppose all these things contributed to my love of music--even my father's singing!

Now, if you don't count my all-to-brief attempt at structured piano lessons as a child, I guess you could say that my background in music performance officially started in junior high school with the trombone.

You can play duets

with only one horn!
I learned to play the trombone as part of a beginning band class.  I originally wanted to learn the trumpet.  Of course, so did many of the other kids.  The wise music teacher gathered all the kids who wanted to play trumpet and, one at a time, handed them one and said, "Alright, blow!"  Some naturally hit higher notes; they were given trumpets.  Others, including me, blew lower notes and, as a result, were given a choice between a trombone, a baritone horn, or the tuba.  Well, the baritone looked to me like a small tuba [popular style of the day shown at right] and the tuba was, well, a lot more metal than I wanted to carry around.
Me, in my

school days

I weighed the options carefully and came to an intelligent decision:  I chose the trombone primarily due to its ability to make that characteristically comical sliding sound (that we musicians call a glissando).  At the time, I thought that was as good a reason as any!
I suppose after the first year in beginning band, my parents noticed that I was excelling at the trombone, so one Christmas morning, I awoke to find a trombone of my very own under the tree.  My parents bought it used somewhere for about $90 and it served me quite well through junior high and high school.  I still have that trombone.  It's an Olds "Standard" model made in Los Angeles around 1947, about ten years older than I am!

My first trombone book

In addition to the school band and orchestra, I played in organizations such as the Los Angeles City Youth Band, Los Angeles All-City Band, Meremblum Junior Symphony Orchestra, Cal Arts Youth Orchestra, and some stage bands with friends that culminated with us playing at the Hollywood Bowl in the annual "Battle of the Bands" finals competition.

King model 2B trombone

Holton TR158 trombone

After high school, I got a brand new King 2B Liberty trombone and continued to play while working toward a Bachelor's of Music degree at Cal State University, Northridge.  That horn is the main horn I use for jazz and solo work.  I also have a large-bore tenor trombone, the Holton TR158.  I enjoy its fuller sound in concert band and symphony work.  The third "player" in my collection is a silverplated Reynolds single-trigger bass trombone with a 10" bell.

In 1999, I began playing regularly again when I joined the Santa Clarita Valley Concert Band.  A year later, I heard a concert at Pierce College in Woodland Hills and knew I found a new home.  I performed with the Los Angeles Pierce Symphonic Winds for the next fifteen years, most of those years as the principal trombonist.

My interest in performing again was always there; it just needed a kick-start to get going again.

Since I began playing regularly again, I have also performed with the following ensembles:
  • LA Winds Jazz Band
  • San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra
  • American Victory Orchestra
  • Valley Symphony Orchestra
  • Colburn Adult Wind Symphony  
In 2015, I moved to San Jose and began performing with the San Jose Wind Symphony

In July of 2015, we performed at the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles conference at the California Theatre.

As I got more involved in playing, I started researching the various brass instrument makers such as Conn, King, Bach, Holton, Olds, York and others.  I found it fascinating.  I thought I'd put together a web page illustrating some of the great variations on the trombone--some historic, some found in present day.  I continued to research the baritone horn and euphonium, since these horns play in the same range as the trombone.
Continue to:

Variations on the Trombone

Bob Beecher,
Dec 8, 2010, 4:51 PM