I started learning the trombone in 1981 while attending the John Lyon School in Harrow. I studied with former Hallé Orchestra principal trombonist Maisie Ringham, switching from tenor to bass trombone in 1985 before leaving to read Modern Languages at the University of Westminster. While taking a degree course at the University, I studied bass trombone with Ronald Bryans at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
During my years at university, I studied abroad in France (at the Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux III) and in Austria (at the University of Innsbruck), also studying trombone at the local music colleges.
I became a member of the British Trombone Society in 1989 and since 1997 I have been the webmaster, also serving on the Board of Advisors. In 2001, I wrote an article on Haydn’s Creation for the British Trombone Society magazine, The Trombonist, entitled Creating Problems.
For the past 25 years, I have performed on the bass and contrabass trombones on a semi-professional basis with various orchestras and ensembles in and around London, including:
- BBC Elstree Concert Band
- Bloomsbury Chamber Orchestra
- Ealing Symphony Orchestra
- De Havilland (formerly Hatfield) Philharmonic Orchestra
- Enfield Brass Consort
- Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra
- Finchley Chamber Orchestra
- Forest Philharmonic Orchestra
- Fulham Opera
- Harrow Symphony Orchestra
- Kensington Symphony Orchestra
- Linden Wind Orchestra
- London International (formerly North West London) Symphony Orchestra
- London Shostakovich Orchestra
- Midsummer Opera
- North London Symphony Orchestra
- The Rehearsal Orchestra
In 2002 I created Trombonanza, a multi-faceted trombone ensemble, in which I play bass and contrabass trombones, and also arrange music for orchestra, wind band and brass ensemble, and trombone ensembles of different sizes.
In May 2014 I was elected 2nd Vice President of the International Trombone Association.
In my “day job”, I am a director of PENNInk Productions Ltd.
Small bore trombones
Olds Standard B♭ tenor trombone
I use this instrument for French third trombone parts when the section scales down to small bore instruments. It has a dual bore (0.485″/0.500″) slide with in-slide tuning and a 7″ bell. I usually use a Vincent Bach (New York) 6 mouthpiece or a Denis Wick 4BS mouthpiece with this trombone.
Boosey & Hawkes “Imperial” G/D bass trombone
This is one of the last G/D bass trombones ever made, dating from 1978. This is an example of the large bore (0.5265″) orchestral model. The instrument still has its original G/D bass trombone mouthpiece, handle and case, though my preference is to use a Denis Wick SM2M mouthpiece, which is a little deeper and helps to make a rounder sound that doesn’t tend towards tearing canvas in loud dynamics.
Besson “Prototype” G bass trombone
This trombone belonged formerly to Royal Marines Band No. 7. It still possesses its original handle, mouthpiece and case and has been dated to approximately 1948. The bore of this instrument is 0.487″.
Established by Gustave August Besson in Paris 1837, Besson & Co. established a London branch by 1850 and was fined for patent problems with Adolphe Sax during the mid 1800s. After the death of the founder in 1874, his widow took over the business (in 1874), followed later by his daughter, Marthe. The company was taken over by Boosey & Hawkes in 1948.
Large bore trombones
Conn 88H B♭/F trombone
I use this instrument for French third trombone parts and sometimes as a light bass trombone when playing with an alto trombone in Classical and early Romantic works. I usually use a Shires Vintage 3G, 5G or 5GS mouthpiece with this trombone.
Conn 70H B♭/F bass trombone
This model dates from 1942 and features tuning in the slide and was manufactured from 1937 to 1955. The Conn factory stopped the manufacture of musical instruments in August 1942, so this is quite a find. It has a 9½” bell and a rather narrower taper, which lend it a somewhat lighter feel compared with modern bass trombones. It is a joy to play and is very suitable for most orchestral bass trombone playing. Played with either the original Connstellation Remington mouthpiece or a Mount Vernon Bach 2G mouthpiece.
Conn 62H B♭/F/D bass trombone
This famous model dates from 1970, features tuning in the slide and was manufactured from 1968 to 1972. It has a 9½” bell, a somewhat lighter feel compared with modern bass trombones, and produces a classic bass trombone sound. The valves were reconfigured by Larry Minick to produce an open wrap F tube, second valve D slide, and independent levers. It is a joy to play and is my main instrument. Played with a Mount Vernon Bach 2G mouthpiece.
Thein F/D/B♭/A♭ contrabass trombone
This contrabass trombone has a slide bore of 0.567″ and a bell diameter of 10.63″. The mouthpiece is a Thein contrabass trombone model designed by Joachim Mittelacher – the Thein MCH (Mittelacher Contrabass Heavy) model.
Arno Windisch (Dresden) alto trombone in E♭
This instrument has a 7″ bell and dates from approximately 1954. It is typical of older German trombones in having a friction joint instead of a ferrule to attach the bell to the slide, no slide lock, an unsoldered slide stay and a bell garland.
Born on 27 February 1921 in Klingenthal, Saxony, in 1954 Arno Windisch took over the workshop of Friedrich Alwin Heckel (founded 1836), the former instrument workshop to the royal court of Saxony. On 1 January 1992 the workshop was shut down.
Robert Piering (Adorf) B♭ trombone, Robert Piering (Adorf) B♭/F trombone
The straight B♭tenor trombone was probably made by Robert Piering of Adorf in Saxony in the late 1920s/early 1930s. It has a slide bore of 0.500″, a 9″ bell, and traditional German snake ornamentation. There is no tuning slide.
This tenorbass trombone in B♭/F was made by Robert Piering of Adorf in Saxony in the late 1920s/early 1930s and I use it as a small bass trombone when playing Viennese Classical works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, etc. It has a slide bore of 0.525″, a 9″ bell, and traditional German snake ornamentation. It is fitted with a tuning slide and has a thong-operated thumb valve with drum spring for the F attachment. The whole instrument is fashioned out of gold brass and has a very warm sound, typical of instruments of this kind from Saxony.
The Robert Piering workshop was established in 1882 and lasted until the mid-20th century, producing every size of trombone from alto to contrabass. Instruments from the Piering workshop, like those from that of Kruspe in Erfurt, were and are highly sought after and represent the zenith of traditional German trombone manufacture.
Sächsische Musikinstrumenten Fabriken VEB (Klingenthal) bass trombone in F
This is a typical example of the old German military band bass trombone with a coil in the bell section and has a bore size of approximately 0.512″, 10″ bell, as well as the original case and mouthpiece. It is very traditional and has no tuning slide, no slide lock, no water key (though I did have a Saturn water key added to make life a little easier), an unsoldered slide stay and a friction joint to attach the bell to the slide.
This trombone is, unusually, a post-war instrument from the German Democratic Republic. The Sächsische Musikinstrumenten Fabriken VEB were founded in 1946 and closed down in 1972. It is a real rarity owing to the fact that most German manufacturers ceased making F bass trombones before World War II.
I use a Shires Vintage 2G mouthpiece with this instrument, which helps to avoid cracked notes in the low register (an unfortunate consequence when using the original mouthpiece that is really quite small and shallow) and easier and more stable access to the upper register.
Schuster & Co. (Markneukirchen) tenor trombone in B♭
Schuster & Co. operated from 1881 to 1943, founded by Arnold W. Ludwig through the purchase of Paulus & Schuster and was a manufacturer of musical instruments by royal appointment to the court of Saxony.
This tenor trombone has bore size of 0.547″, a 10″ bell and possesses an interesting in-slide tuning mechanism as well as very fine Schlangenverzierungen (snake ornamentations), which protect the bell and slide bows. It also has the traditional German Cölner model mouthpiece.