If you read the last post, you may have noticed something I didn't call a whole lot of attention to. I played trombone on Funkrust's mini tour to Trenton and Philadelphia.
Somebody asked me the other day what it takes to play a different instrument with a band you've been playing with for a while. The answer, like so many things in music, is that it takes practice.
Backstory here. Funkrust used to have six trombone players. It was almost too many. Then, two left for personal reasons, one had a baby, and one started taking a pretty involved course. Suddenly, we went from a glut of trombones to not enough.
I first subbed on trombone a few months ago, when we only had one other trombone player on a gig. Since I can double, I offered to. About two weeks before that gig, I started looking at parts. Once or twice, I got together with Alex (a music teacher who usually plays snare drum in Funkrust, but who also subbed trombone on that gig), and we went through what we needed to cover.
The hardest part of learning Funkrust charts is knowing the form, so I was already a few steps ahead. But memorizing is still memorizing, and it takes time. On days I didn't have time to play, I made sure to read through the charts and listen to reference recordings so the parts wouldn't slip out of my head.
The day of the gig, I didn't feel entirely confident I knew it well enough, but with Alex and Elizabeth picking up the slack, it went well enough.
But that was in January. I hadn't looked through the trombone charts in months. But, again, practice.
The parts came back pretty quickly when I pulled them back out. I sat down once with my roommate Phil (one of the trombone players who couldn't make the trip), and once with Elizabeth (the trombone player who did go) and we went through what I needed to do.
At the start of the first gig of this trip, in Trenton, I was pretty hesitant with the lines. Playing with a full band is a lot different than playing along with a recording. But as the day went on, I got more and more confident. By the time we got to Philadelphia, I was ready to go.
If I knew I'd have to do this regularly, I'd look at the parts regularly. But it always comes as such a surprise. We commit to a gig, and someone drops out. It happens with a 20-odd piece band, and that's why it's important to have folks who can double. But maybe I should make it a point to look at the parts in between...