Review


William H. "Bill" Hill
24 Low Legato Studies: "The Money Register"

Arranged by Charles Vernon, editor

Trombone with F attachment

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2017 / 1992
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com
Language: English

Reproduction etude book. 22 pages.

Genre: STUDY MATERIALS

Charles Vernon, renowned Chicago Symphony bass trombonist and soloist, studied with William H. Hill decades ago at Georgia State University where he was introduced to this collection of etudes. At the encouragement of his class mates, Mr. Vernon has returned the book to print in an effort to help prepare all trombonists to “play and perform” in the low register. Prof. Hill compiled these studies and arranged them to focus on the “money register,” roughly defined as the two octaves extending from pedal BB-flat up to the top of the bass staff. He chose the compositions of Panseron, Lablache, Sieber, Panofka, Bordese, Handel, Concone, Marchesi, and Lack. Metronome markings range from 60 to 138 but most lie between 60 and 80. The lowest note in the book is a single quarter note pedal AA-flat, the last note of the last etude. There are many instances of D, C-sharp and C, but only one occurrence of C-flat in the entire book. There are no occurrences of BB or BB-flat anywhere! Eight of the etudes lie completely in the bass staff. Key areas range from seven flats to seven sharps in a good mix of duple and triple meters. I find only one questionable note, the c-natural in the penultimate measure of No.6. There are no extreme technical maneuvers in these pieces, just pure, sensible, coherent melodies in the romantic style.

 

But there are technical challenges, and therein lies the value of the book. 85% of these melodies lie in the bass staff, the place where we have to cover the most physical distance with the slide. If one puts these tunes to the metronome and really zeros in on accurate rhythm, it quickly becomes apparent just how challenging it is to get notes to speak on time in this register. These melodies train slide/valve technique in a context that is easy to measure. The average trombonist can sight read them, but to make them sound really fine, to get beautiful connections between notes that are right on time, to form clear phrases whose shapes are not dictated by technical limitations,  this is a challenge.

 

And the etudes provide training in specific areas. There is one that trains the use of positions 5, 6 and 7; another that provides a great chromatic workout. One incorporates grace notes in a way that trains independent valve technique for bass trombonists. And Hill introduces the concept of the Appoggiatura in brief, preliminary instructions and then provides an etude that exploits the gesture. Another exploits neighboring tones as a melodic device, yet another is built on turns.

 

While there is great value here for all trombonists as Mr. Vernon asserts in the forward, I have been searching for a beginning bass trombone book like this for a long time, particularly to use with those who move from tenor to bass. This is a valuable teaching tool, one that provides good, solid, training melodies at the right level for aspiring bass trombonists. These are not as technically demanding as the Blazhevich or Bordogni studies. They provide an opportunity for air, valve and slide to coordinate in manageable, beautiful phrases in the bass staff and a few steps lower. They are a wonderful introduction to the many challenging lyric studies for bass trombone now available. That said, most of these pieces can be played on a straight tenor trombone without an F attachment, where they will test slide technique. Lastly, and most importantly, these provide an environment in which to develop a beautiful concept of sound. This is a register that many tenor trombonists overblow, where challenging slide technique can foster tension. These studies provide a place to get airspeed just right, to play with soft lips, to relax the body so air can flow without impediment. The nature of these melodies encourage such concepts to grow and become habitual. Thank you to William Hill and Charles Vernon for sharing with us a focused, simple, reliable collection of studies that help us build these most important skills.

Reviewer: Mike Hall
Review Published January 31, 2019