Category: books and articles



By Douglas Yeo

When I graduated from high school in 1973, I received two awards in addition to my diploma. That I received the senior class music award was probably not a big surprise to most people in my community, considering that I had played in All-State band and orchestra in two states (New York, and then in New Jersey when my family moved there after my sophomore year in high school), All-Eastern orchestra, and was selected as a member of the McDonald’s All-American High School  Band. But in addition to the music award, I also received the senior class English award. What a minute. It seems people are always saying, “Music and math go together.” Not for me. My mind seemed to reject math and science; I got through those classes by the grace of God and the mercy of my teachers. English was my favorite class when I didn’t have a trombone in my hand. History was a close second.


The 1973 senior class music and English awards from Jefferson Township High School (NJ) that were presented to me on graduation day.

My love of words was instilled in me by my father who, when commuting to work on the Long Island Railroad for 20 years, read The New York Times by the time he arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan, and read the New York Post on the way home. He subscribed to The New Yorker magazine, and he was a Trustee of our local public library. That’s my dad, Alan Yeo, in the photo below, third from the left, with other town officials and library Trustees at the laying of the cornerstone ceremony for the new Valley Stream Public Library on November 17, 1962.


Town officials at the laying of the cornerstone for the Valley Stream (NY) Public Library, November 17, 1962. Mayor Henry Waldinger is second from left (the library was renamed in his memory in 1968), and my father, Library Trustee Alan Yeo, is third from left.

Books and reading were part of the fabric of our family—it seems we were always at the town library getting books to read—and while I “read the classics,” Shakespeare, and plenty of great fiction by the time I headed to college, it was reading about real events and history that really got my attention. My father taught me the importance of a broad vocabulary – both spoken and written vocabularies. I came to love words, and wordsmiths who used them in evocative and creative ways.

Over the years, I’ve written dozens of published articles, blog articles, book chapters, and books, and I continue to enjoy the chase of research and the happy discipline of writing. I especially like to tell stories about musicians and the instruments they play. My research on diverse individuals and musical instruments has brought me in contact with a host of really interesting people who have helped me along the way.

The other day, someone wrote to me and asked if I could share one of my articles with him. This happens a lot, and I’m always happy to do so. But that got me thinking about putting together a list of some of my publications along with links to free downloads of many of my articles, and information about books and other resources. So, if this interests you, here goes, and enjoy.


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  • Serpent. Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, Second edition. Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Buccin. Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, Second edition. Oxford University Press, 2014.


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An unconventional marketing strategy

An unconventional marketing strategy

Over the years, I’ve used different marketing strategies to promote my ideas, recordings, and books. Print advertising, internet advertising, word of mouth, release parties, signings, you name it. I’ve always said that the world is engaged in a battle of ideas and whether it’s an article on my website or blog or a new recording or book, I have ideas that I love to share with others.

By now, readers of The Last Trombone know about my newly published book, An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player. My publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, has sent out review copies to various publications and I’ve been getting the word out in diverse ways. But a few days ago, my friend and illustrator for the book, Lennie Peterson, told me he had a different idea, an unconventional marketing strategy.

Lennie is not only a superb illustrator and fine artist, but he’s also a superb cartoonist. In fact, I first met Lennie through his comic strip, The Big Picture, which was syndicated for many years and now can be read daily at Lennie’s comics tell stories of real life and they often revolve around the trombone (he is a really great player) and his girlfriend (or ex-girlfriend). In 2003, Lennie sent me a copy of his book, The Big Picture: A Comic Strip Collection by Lennie Peterson. It’s a fun read, with over 300 comic strips drawn over a four year period. Get a copy: you’ll be glad you did!

With the freedom of using as the primary platform for his cartoons, Lennie can make new cartoons whenever he wants, and revert to reruns when he’s doing other things. He has a large, loyal following which includes me. Lennie understands life and he has a way of representing it that hits my funny bone.

So, when Lennie told me that he was going to make four comic strips to promote our new book, I had no idea where he was going to go with the idea. I found out soon enough. Last week, Lennie released four new strips, on October 17, 19, 20, and 21. Here they are. My editor is thrilled about this, and he told me that he can’t recall a book ever being promoted in a comic strip. I can’t either. Thank you Lennie. You never cease to amaze me. Enjoy!

The Big Picture by Lennie “Sackbut” Peterson, October 17, 2021


The Big Picture by Lennie “2B or not 2B” Peterson, October 19, 2021


The Big Picture by Lennie “Hand Cramp” Peterson, October 20, 2021


The Big Picture by Lennie “But wait, there’s more!” Peterson, October 21, 2021


Holding it in my hand: a new book

Holding it in my hand: a new book

On September 9, I wrote an article on The Last Trombone about my newest book, An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player. While the book has an official release date of November 1, I began letting people know that the book was available as a pre-order.

Today, copies of the book that I had ordered from my publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, arrived on my doorstep, a full month before the official release. The warehouse is shipping. For once in my life, something arrived early!


Anyone who has written a book knows this unspeakable feeling—to open a box and see the product of many years of work.

And then I picked up a book and held it in my hand. After working for so many years with Word docs and PDF proofs, it was a shock—a happy shock— to see the crispness and vitality of Lennie Peterson‘s  illustrations in print.


For those who have ordered a copy directly from the publisher, you should have your book soon. While the book is still announced on as a November 1 release (and, hey, it’s the “#1 New Release in Trombones”!), ordering directly from the publisher not only gets the book to you faster, but you can get it at a 30% discount. See the discount code in the graphic below.


Tomorrow I will put a copy of the book in the hands of my Dean at Wheaton College, Michael Wilder, with thanks for his ongoing support of my many artistic exploits, and another in the hand of the acquisitions librarian at Buswell Library on the Wheaton College campus. It is my hope and prayer that this book will prove helpful to many trombone, tuba, and euphonium players, and others who enjoy hearing them and want to learn more about them.

Finally, while you will read this on page xvi, this is a good time to thank the people who really made the book possible: My students. The book is dedicated to them—all of my students from over 50 years of teaching. Here’s how I thanked them in the acknowledgements section:


I think I’ll go practice now, too.

A new book and a special offer: An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player

A new book and a special offer: An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player

I’ve been fascinated with musical instruments for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest childhood memories is of going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and standing in front of a display case that displayed three dragon bell trombones. These instruments, made in Belgium and France in the early nineteenth century, went by the name buccin, and I still have the postcard I bought on that afternoon, shown below. It is the oldest artifact that I have from my childhood and I wrote an article about the buccin on The Last Trombone. You can read it by clicking HERE.


My fascination with musical instruments continued and grew from that time long ago, and over the years, I learned to play many of them. I started with the trombone, then bass trombone, bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, serpent, bass sackbut, ophicleide, didgeridoo, conch shell, and many more. That exploration of musical instruments continues today and I’m pleased to announce the upcoming publication of my newest book, one which is devoted to many of the instruments that I and many others have come to love so much, An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player.


In a sense, this new book is the culmination of a lifetime of interest in and exploration of low brass instruments. The publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, contacted me in 2016 and asked if I would be interested in writing a book on low brass instruments for their series of Dictionaries for the Modern Musician. At that time, there were dictionaries for conductors, clarinet, trumpet, and strings, and since then, the series has grown to include dictionaries for singers, piano, percussion, and flute. One for trombone, tuba, and euphonium was needed, and I was pleased to set about working to add a new volume to the series.

This was quite a project. I had the opportunity to create a dictionary with hundreds of entries about instruments I love and which have intersected with my life on a daily basis for decades. I could include anything I thought was important for players, teachers, conductors, and audiences to know about these instruments. What is that part called? Why was it invented? Where does it fit on the evolutionary chain of the instrument’s family? Who played it? Who wrote great pieces for it? Questions, questions, questions. So I set about looking for answers.

The process was an enlightening one. I started by making up an initial working list of entries: instruments, instrument makers, parts of instruments, composers, performers, teachers, musical compositions, and more. I then asked several friends who are professors of trombone, tuba, and euphonium at several colleges, universities, and conservatories of music to ask their students to make a list of 50 words they would like to see included in the book. The lists that they sent to me were fascinating. Of course there was some commonality between the lists, and they included many words that I had already decided should be a part of the book. But there were other words that I didn’t know. Why did someone think that term would be important?  I set about researching, and reading and reaching out to friends, colleagues, and scholars to get answers.

But before I got too far along in the process, I needed to make a big decision. The old phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is self-evidently true. The book needed illustrations to bring my text alive, and when I asked myself the question, “Who should make the illustrations?”, there was only one possible answer that came to my mind: Lennie Peterson. I’ve written previously about Lennie Peterson here on The Last Trombone and you can read that article by clicking HERE. He’s a remarkable artist and a close friend (and a superb trombonist), equally conversant as an illustrator, fine artist (oil and other media), and cartoonist. If you only know Lennie from one of his most famous cartoons from his comic strip, The Big Picture (not a week passes by without someone sending me this cartoon, “Have you seen this? It’s fantastic!” Yes, I’ve seen it, and I bought the original from Lennie many years ago and it hangs in my home office), then you don’t know the true scope of what he can do.


For instance, when I asked Lennie to make an illustration of the stays (or braces) on a Renaissance-era trombone, he could have made a great illustration of the handiwork of one of the great Nuremberg masters of the sixteenth century. But instead, Lennie made an illustration with his own creative twist that shows how HE would have made stays on a Renaissance-era trombone:


Sometimes Lennie took an existing work of art, such as a fresco of a Roman-era cornu in Pompeii (Don’t know what a cornu is? Look in the book!), and he gave it a personal touch:


On other occasions, Lennie based his illustration on a photograph that was generously provided to us by the owner of the image, such as his illustration of tubist Franz Schultz using an ærophor that was provided to us by the late Jacob B. Polak (Don’t know what an ærophor is? Look in the book!), or his illustration of August Helleberg (Don’t know who August Helleberg was? Look in the book!) with his Conn double-slide contrabass trombone that was provided to us by Peter Pereira. Showing instruments in the hands of individuals sometimes helps readers understand their size and scale:



Still other images were based on photographs what were generously provided to us by the rights holder of the image, such as Lennie’s illustration of Andrew Van der Beek playing the contrabass serpent, The “Anaconda” (Don’t know that The “Anaconda” is? Look in the book!), based on a photo from Edinburgh University, provided to us by my good friend, Arnold Myers:


Lennie also based illustrations on photographs I took of instruments in my own and other collections, and his attention to detail allows the reader to follow the intricacies of instrument tubing and other details, such as his illustration of a six-valve trombone with seven independent tubes:


As I began writing, Lennie began illustrating, and when we were done, I had written 675 entries and Lennie had made 125 illustrations. Back and forth we went, with me refining words and Lennie refining lines and shadows.  When we were done, the book went out for peer review and at the end of that process, we were more than happy that the reviewers pronounced  that the book was both engaging and factually accurate. Several respected members of the low brass community added their endorsement to the book—see some of their words on the back cover below (the white rectangle on the back cover will be filled by the book’s ISBN number and bar code). A long period of editing, correcting, adding, copyediting, proofreading, and layout ensued, and recently, the book went to the printer. It will be available around November 1 but it can be ordered now. More on that below.


Readers will find entries about a host of subjects, from ærophor to Antoniophone, to articulation, back pressure, ball joint, baritone horn, bass horn, bass trombone, bass tuba, Bellophone, Hector Berlioz, Clifford Bevan, bombardon, Giulio Marco Bordogni, Brian Bowman, braze, breathing, Lillian Briggs, “Bydlo” tuba, carnyx, chops, cimbasso, circular breathing, compensating valve system, double-bell euphonium, well, you get the idea. The book is all about instruments, parts of instruments, “path changers” who changed the course of an instrument in some way, manufacturers, playing techniques, and much more. The book’s page on has a few “look inside” pages so you can get a closer look at the book.

An important element of the book has been the effort to recognize voices that have not been widely or adequately recognized in other literature. Hence, readers will find entries on many women (and also an entry on the word “gender”) including Cora Youngblood Corson, Dorothy Ziegler, Betty Glover, Maisie Ringham-Wiggins, Constance Weldon, Melba Liston, Lillian Briggs, Abbie Conant, and others, as well as entries on many people of color (and also an entry the word “race” and one on “regional music”) including  James Reese Europe, Nathaniel Davis, Edward “Kid” Ory and Joseph “Tricky Sam” Nanton, Howard Johnson, John M. Kuhn, Russell Moore, Juan Tizol, and others.

If what you’ve read so far has piqued your interest, Rowman & Littlefield has a special offer for you. For a limited time, the publisher is offering a 30% discount on the book, in both the hard cover and ebook editions. Of course, if you want to pay full price, you can order the book on On the other hand, if you’d like to save 30%, you can order it on the book’s page on the Rowman & Littlefield website and enter this promo code:


(Note: This discount code has been corrected. If you tried to order the book with a different code, try again with this one. It works!)


You can also download an order form for the book with the the discount by clicking HERE. The order form has complete information on all of the ways you can order the book with the discount: online, by phone, by email, by fax, or by mail. Orders placed directly with the publisher will be shipped as soon as the book arrives in the warehouse.

It is my hope that An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player will find its place on the bookshelves of libraries, and in the hands of teachers, players, composers, and lovers of these instruments as we, together, work to better understand the “what,” “when,” “where,” “how,” and “why” of the trombone, tuba, and euphonium and their ancestors and descendants. Please feel free to share and link this blog post with your friends, students, and others via email, reblogging, or social media.