Pentatonic April – part II
This is the second pentatonic exercise in a series of two, read the first part here
Pentatonic scales are useful for many things, including working on your doodle chops. You will expand your range, build up strength and really get those pentatonic scales into your slide arm.
No secret formula here, just plain hard (and rewarding) work. Make sure that you play the scales in a tempo that you can master. Every attack should be clear, and make sure the difference between the doo-attacks and dl-attacks are minimal.
I have written the exercises in a range suitable for professionals or advanced students. Make sure you adapt it to your level of playing. You should be pushing yourself, but be able to play high notes with reasonable ease and good sound.
The magic ingredient in this doodle soup is the fact that each phrase start in a low range. Really work on being able to go from low range to high range in a linear way. Especially focus coming back down. Do you have the same sound quality at the end of the phrase as in the beginning? If you find it hard to play the low notes with full sound on the way down again, you probably lock up your throat a bit in the high range. Focus on your lips and tongue when playing in the high range, don´t play high notes with your throat or air pressure!
When you need to breathe, just insert a breathing pause, but always start again on the low note of any given phrase.
You can start the exercise in any key. Just make sure that you stay focused when playing the tricky keys.
Below you find sheet music with this exercise in all keys (click the pic). If you know your pentatonic scales, you probably don´t need to print all pages, it is the same pattern in all keys. Inc is cheap in pdf files…
Good luck breaking your doodle speed limits!
I like pentatonic scales. They tend to fit the trombone quite well, and are in general useful for many things such as bass lines, blues themes and funky horn section phrases. And of course in improvisation. This is probably the best scale to start with if you are new to improvising, since it will sound melodically any way you play it. I have written about how to use pentatonic scales in improvisation here.
This is no improvisation exercise. It is a simple trombone flexibility exercise, based on the pentatonic scale. The idea is to start each phrase on a low note, and working on expanding intervals with ease. Don´t try to fight the instrument when you work on these patterns. That never help your trombone playing. Try to blow as relaxed as possible, bouncing up from the low notes.
There are some alternate positions noted in the sheet music. You should try them, and make sure that you play in tune even if you play notes unusual places. Like the F# on 7th. Or Eb on high 6th. When I write 5#, I mean slightly higher than 5th position.
This is a flexibility exercise, so DO NOT TONGUE IT. Just a soft attack on the first note of each phrase, then slur it all the way.
Start slow, and don´t play it faster than you can control and feel comfortable with.
Now go play.
Click on the pic to get this exercise as pdf.
The worlds first half plunger for trombone (trumpet version in development)
This remarkable brass tool has been sought after by composers and arrangers for decades, and is finally available exclusively through the digitaltrombone.com shop. It is an ergonomically disaster designed for musical masterpieces.
Are you tired of trying to get the full half plunger sound with a regular plunger? Upgrade to the half plunger now and look professional on the band stand.
The half plunger is also well suited for both half time playing and half time players.
As the only trombone mute on the market, the half plunger is available in both right handed and left handed versions.
You can get the half plunger in two version; pre-fabricated or as a simple do-it-yourself package with clear instructions (se manual below). view PDF version here
Available from April 1st 2014 and possibly other days too.
This brass breathing tip is almost self explanatory. It is about the sensation of letting the air pass tour lips as slowly as possible while playing with a rich, full sound. I will not claim to be the first to use the expression slow air, since that would be clearly on the wrong side of the truth, but it is good, so I will give you my take on it.
Focusing on slow air will help you relax while playing and make your throat wide open. Fighting your instrument will never end well. Ever wondered how top brass players can look so relaxed while playing technically challenging music? The truth is that they would not be top players in the first place if they did not have the ability to play with ease. Continue reading
Forget about embouchure, strength, flexibility and scales, if you don’t get the breathing in place, nothing else does´t matter. You probably know about a good-lip-day. I would say that 9,3 out of 10 times, it is actually a good-breathing-day. If you make sure airflow is relaxed and controlled, your lips will have perfect working conditions.
Have you tried not playing for a while, maybe a week or so? And then picking up the horn and to your surprise it is actually responding quite well. This is because you have had some time to loose some bad breathing habits, and play more relaxed than you usually do. Hold on to that feeling! (Problem is you will only play well for 5 minutes, since you lost a lot of strength…)
This simple, fast and fun (yeah, right) exercise will help you gain control over your breathing and improve free flow. Continue reading
This is a guest article, written by PhD student Matthias Heyne from University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. I find his thoughts very interesting, and would recommend that you answer his questionnaire and help him getting started with the project!
The Influence of First Language on Playing Brass Instruments
by Matthias Heyne – University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
First of all I would like to thank Anders Larson for offering to let me write a short article to appear on this website!
I am currently getting started on my PhD project within the Linguistics Department at the University of Canterbury. With my research, I’ll try to find out whether the sounds of one’s native language influence the playing of brass instruments. Drawing upon personal experience as a trombone player (and as many fellow brass players have assured me), there seem to be notable differences observable in the style of playing which seem to correspond to the players’ language backgrounds. Potential differences in playing styles may be due to differences in the consonant systems of languages as well as vowel systems. Continue reading
Using vowels to improve and optimize your trombone embouchure
I have written a lot about about air flow and keeping the throat wide open while playing trombone (and other brass instruments). Here is a really cool trick to improve your embouchure and make sure that you get the most out of your efforts. When you get it right, you will probably experience that your playing will be a lot more effortless, both in the high range and low range!
Your lips are not to be compared with a guitar string that produces a higher pitch the more you stretch it!!!! This is a very common mistake, and a dead end for trombone and brass embouchure. When you get it right, you will be amazed how little effort is actually needed, regardless of the range you are playing in. Continue reading
I am very proud to be able to present my new band Elektrojazz, not once, but three times during Copenhagen Jazz Festival! The festival is the largest in the world, with 1.000 concert in 10 days, spread out all over town. Very well worth a visit!
These are the dates I play with Elektrojazz during the festival, I hope to see you there if you happen to be at Mother Earth (((Europe) Denmark)) Copenhagen))) then!
Juli 8 @4PM - Funders, Frederiksberg Rundel 3A, Frederiksberg
July 10 @10PM – Cafe Bopa, Bopa Plads, 2100 Copenhagen
July 12 @8PM feat. danish R&B queen Karen – Krudttønden Serridslevvej 2,
2100 Copenhagen Continue reading
Many brass players have problems playing smooth legato lines and keeping the air flow going. This little exercise will help you overcome those issues, and it is also a comfortable mouthpiece warm up. The goal is to let the air flow freely and without interruptions when you change notes, regardless if you play glissando or legato. When playing staccato you will have to stop the airflow between notes, focusing on not building up any tensions or changing the embouchure. PLaying in pitch on mouthpiece can be hard, and doing it while playing staccato is really hard, so focus on that too. When you can play a staccato melody in perfect pitch on the mouthpiece, you probably can not play out of tune on the trombone!
I had the explicit pleasure of visiting the S.E. Shires factory and try out a wide range of their trombones. They are located in an humble industrial area in Hopedale, Massachusetts. It is about one hour drive from Boston, and four hours from New York. The factory building is very discreet, and you would not think that a world class brass instrument manufacturer is based within such a timid building, but do not let the appearance fool you, they are serious about their business, and really know what they are doing! And how to do it. And why. And probably when too. Great New York trombone player (and Shires artist) Michael Davis were kind enough to give me an introduction to Steve Shires himself and Ben Griffin (Shires sales rep and pro trombone player). Ben has a deep knowledge about trombones in all sizes, and was very helpful during my visit. He set me up in the Shires showroom, and kept feeding me with new trombone parts for several hours.
Since I knew I would be buying a small bore horn, this was where I started out. Unfortunately I never got around to try out their large bore trombones, which gives me a good reason to visit them again in the future! In this test, I will review both the parts I tried, as well as the Michael Davis Signature Model, and of course tell more about the model I settled for.