Friday, April 26, 2013

Meet the Trombone Section

Concord Band trombone section.
From a rehearsal in 2002, left to right: Glenn Garvey, Mark Vincenzes, Peter Norton, David Tweed, Sam Reynolds and Andy Nichols.
The Concord Band recently presented an award to the longest-tenured member of the Band, trombonist Andy Nichols. Andy has played with the Concord Band for a full fifty years, and is retiring from the Band this season. Until we have a solo feature for Andy, here's a reprise of the article featuring the trombone section. Amazingly, ten years since this article was published in Notes from the Concord Band, at Andy's retirement the section was still 100% intact!—ed.

When it comes to proficiency, many would agree that among all instrument sections of the Concord Band, our Trombone section ranks very high—right at the top, in your editor's opinion. What makes this so impressive is that, while players of all wind instruments must form a proper embouchure (position of the mouth—lips, tongue and teeth) to play each note, instrumentalists other than trombonists need merely depress the proper key or keys on his or her instrument to do so. Trombonists, on the other hand, must position their slides (which can travel almost two feet) to an accuracy of 1/8 of an inch! Perhaps you're not as impressed with this as is your editor (who plays only non-melodic percussion instruments, which need merely to be struck—some would say banged—at the right moment), but if you've managed to get this far, please read on.

The Concord Band's six trombonists have been with the Band an average of more than 16 years [in 2002—ed]. Four have been with the Band for fifteen years or more; a fifth, nine years. All but one were born in the Northeast (Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania); the sixth hails from Arkansas. All began their trombone studies as children and played in school ensembles at every stage of their education. Today, four play in more than one musical group. A few play more than one instrument; one even admitted to having played the accordion!

All of the Band's trombonists are employed in greater Boston's high technology community in one way or another: four directly, one as a consultant and one as an attorney. Most of them also help, or have helped, the Band with extra-musical activities. Our trombonist/attorney has helped review the Band's bylaws and our Music Director's employment contract. Another edits our printed concert programs. Four participate regularly in the mundane tasks of getting this newsletter in the mail twice a year. One, who took over the task of managing the Band's website ( within the past year, joined our Board of Trustees in October.

When asked to express the importance of the Concord Band in their lives, most of our trombonists mentioned the opportunity to remain active and motivated musically throughout the year and to play a wide variety of music—in an environment, as one put it, "that is friendly and relaxed, yet challenging." Anothe wrote, "there are lots of orchestras and small ensembles, but not many concert bands. For most wind players, playing in a good concert band is like coming home."

So why is the trombone section such an asset to the Concord Band? It's really quite simple: They have all played their trombones for a long time, and they love doing it. They're not only good musicians, but they also willingly help with non-musical (but quite necessary) Band tasks. The bottom line is that the Concord Band has a bunch of dedicated trombonists who can really cut the mustard!

That dedication is exemplified by our trombonist/lawyer [Andy] who wrote, "I have defended Monday evenings [rehearsal night] at all costs, including walking out of meetings to get to Concord. Once I had a closing in Philadelphia that was scheduled on the same day as a concert. I was flown back by the client in a private jet in time to play that evening."

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