Review


William "Bill" Hill
Versatility Studies: for trombone with F attachment
Trombone with F attachment

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 1992 / 2018
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com
Language: English

Etude book. 43 pages.

Genre: STUDY MATERIALS

This publication of Versatility Studies by Atlanta trombonist William Hill represents a labor of love for Charles Vernon, one of Hill’s most prominent students. In the introduction Vernon reminisces, “When I look back on my time with Mr. Hill, 95% of all lessons that I had with him were spent studying music fundamentals from Arban, Schlossberg, and Bordogni. Along with those studies we also spent time working on the basic flexibility exercises, which we now have as the Versatility Studies.”

The Studies begin with a page of practice suggestions--recommendations like “avoid pulsation with air-stream as you move from pitch to pitch” or “let the highs be easy” or “avoid over-relaxing the embouchure as you descend.” Hill’s final admonition, no doubt tongue in cheek, is “keep the last two pages of this book [suggestions for negotiating trills] out of the hands of composers.”

The body of the publication contains 104 flexibility studies—lip slurs, rip slurs, and lip trills. Hill begins simply, introducing slurs using the second through fourth partials. He gradually adds partials and increases the speed and difficulty of the slurs. Within each set of partials, Hill devises several studies, exploring virtually every possible slur combination. He gradually widens the intervals and increases the difficulty. His intention is for the trombonist to have options so as “to avoid a warm-up rut.” He also extends many of these early studies down through the F attachment register to pedal B-flat.

The initial 35 studies gradually extend the register upward to b-flat1. The studies that follow present even greater challenges, some rising to f2, some descending to pedal EE. There is an increased emphasis on wide interval slurs. Hill also explores patterns of fourths as well as augmented and diminished intervals. Studies 85-97 focus on the F attachment and pedal registers. The final studies explore lip trills in many different registers and combinations.

The trombonist who masters the Versatility Studies will be an accomplished player indeed. The book begins simply enough to appropriately engage a young student. That student will have opportunity to grow along with the book. Truly these studies cannot be outgrown. Even the most advanced players will profit from their challenges. Many thanks to Mr. Vernon for resurrecting this old classic.

Reviewer: Paul Overly
Review Published January 28, 2019