Brass instruments in general put high demand on their puppeteers in order to sound good (damn you, piano players and guitar players). I think of it as being a soccer player; you can do your tricks and move the ball around anytime, but in order to be 100% and have the strength to play a whole game, you need a lot of practice. Every day…
There are a few fundamentals in trombone playing that need constant attention. You need to be aware of yur sound, air flow, embouchure, flexibility, attack, slurring, legato playing…as well as making music, a purpose the trombone is more suited for than most other musical instruments! Therefor, here are a few tips to combine some fundamentals, making your practice session more fun (right…).
By combining slurring with staccato and doodle tonguing, you make sure to give the embouchure a healthy workout. Here are a few samples of how you can modify a flexibility exercise by including staccato playing and doodle tonguing. These specific samples are developed from a part of chapter 7 in the book Flexibility For Trombone; Flexibility With Rhythm. With a little bit of creativity, you could give most trombone flexibility exercises the same treatment. Continue reading
As I have written before, brass playing is not about using a lot of power and forcing your lips to vibrate by compressing as much air through your system as possible. It is all about finding the most relaxed way to move a lot of air through your instrument, while keeping your (correct) embouchure in place. These simple exercises should point you in that direction.
The breathing exercises
The two breathing exercises described in the video below are great for brass players. They will help you open up your throat for free air flow, as well as relax your upper body for a more optimal breathing.
The first one described in the video is the Breath Of Fire (go find your inner dragon), and it is a great way to kick start your breathing before playing.
The Root Lock is a tremendeous way to release tensions in your abdominal region. It might make you feel a bit light headed since you force some extra oxygen to your brain, so don´t overdo it. Deep sighs have a similar effect, but I don´t find it quite as effective as the root lock. A good fast fix though.
Do you like to play jazz solos, but need new inspiration? Or are you not yet a skilled improviser, but want to get started with jazz soloing right away? Then I hope I have come up with the solution for you:
After month of work, I can finally present my new venture, Jazzld.com where you will find jazz books with written solos based on famous jazz standards. There are currently three books available; Jazz’ld Vol. 1, Jazz’ld Vol. 2 and (surprise!) Jazz’ld Vol. 3. Each book is written to match a selected Aebersold play-along recording, so if you have access to one of those already, you will get even more out of the books.
Based on famous jazz standards
The Jazz’ld Jazz Solos books will let you play great jazz solos over the chord progressions from famous jazz standards. You don’t need any improvising experience to get started.
The books consist of jazz solos, written over the chord progressions from famous jazz standards. You will find solos based on the chord progressions from “Summertime,” “Watermelon Man,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Have You Met Miss Jones,” “My Favourite Things,” “Scrapple from the Apple” and many other well-known jazz standards. Each solo consists of several choruses, gradually getting more and more challenging. See the full list of featured jazz standards here.
The books are made to be playable on virtually any instrument, but being a bone player myself, I can assure that they are an excellent match for trombone.
Who are you?
I had a number of different categories of musicians in mind when writing the books. Does any of these descriptions fit on you?
- Trombone student entering the world of jazz
- Advanced jazz trombone player
- Amateur musician
- Trombone educator
- Professional jazz player
- Classical trombone player
Jazz’ld with Aebersold play-along albums
Have you ever practiced using Jamey Aebersold play-along albums? Although they can’t give you the same experience as when you interact with musicians in person, the Aebersold tracks are still a great tool for learning and practicing jazz standards.
The Jazz’ld books are written as a complement to carefully selected Aebersold albums. If you have one of them already, the Jazz’ld solos will let you rediscover it in a new and fun way. Each Jazz’ld solo will match the form, key and tempo of the equivalent Aebersold play-along track.
Jazz’ld Solos Vol. 1 is perfect for aspiring jazz players with solos based on Canataloupe Island and other easy tunes. SUITABLE FOR JAMEY AEBERSOLD VOL. 54 – MAIDEN VOYAGE (NOT INCLUDED)
Jazz’ld Solos Vol. 2 is based on a selection of timeless classics, including Have You Met Miss Jones and My Foolish Heart. SUITABLE FOR JAMEY AEBERSOLD VOL. 25 – ALL TIME STANDARDS (NOT INCLUDED)
Jazz’ld Solos Vol. 3
lets you play bebop solos over the chords from Charlie Parker tunes like Donna Lee and Yardbird Suite right away. SUITABLE FOR JAMEY AEBERSOLD VOL. 6 – CHARLIE PARKER (NOT INCLUDED)
Transcribed jazz solos
One of the best ways to learn jazz is to play transcribed solos. Transcribing solos yourself is great ear training, but it is a time consuming task. If you want to get started right away, the Jazz’ld series will let you start playing high-quality jazz solos right away.
Playing transcribed jazz solos as played by jazz masters are often technically challenging. Jazz’ll gives you get the same experience, but you are able to choose the level of difficulty since each jazz etude gets more challenging for each chorus.
I use the solos for my students on many different levels, as well as play them myself as etudes. Great for sight reading and building up chops!
I hope you like the concept and the books. There is a free sample from the books waiting for you at Jazzld.com.
founder of digitaltrombone.com and (finally) jazzld.com
Playing scale patterns in all keys as a trombone warm up will make you think while playing. Why not improve your chops and get smarter at the same time? (I will cover how to get prettier in a future post…)
You could put your trombone out in the sun for a quick warm up, but I still recommend the old fashioned way that includes actually playing on it. To get your lips soft and responsive, you should start by planing soft in a comfortable range, slowly expanding the range in both directions.
Playing long notes, slow etudes and simple flexibility exercises is are fine ways to warm up. But in this lesson I want to focus on combining trombone warm up with getting to know your instrument better and heat up your brain at the same time.
Trombones are not as visually laid out as a piano or a guitar. It is hard to visualise notes, and it takes a lifetime to really get under the skin of the bastard. Continue reading
A modest reply to Christian Lindberg´s statement about why not to buzz.
I stumbled over this short video with Christian Lindberg talking about why you should not buzz. Christian, I truly respect you as one of the worlds very finest trombone players ever, but I have to disagree with you on this one.
Being able to switch registers rapidly and with ease, is a key to a relaxed trombone technique. In this trombone lesson, I give you some advice on how to achieve this, combined with five pages of exercises. Before you download and print the free sheet music, please read the full article. This will help you get the most out of the exercises.
The distance between high notes and low notes are only a few millimeters. Moving the cheek a few millimeters down, and increasing the distance between the lips another few millimetres is basically all it takes to make a leap of an octave. The problem is, that many of us brass players (my self included if I don´t focus while playing) tend to engage too many muscles and strange parts of our body when we play large intervals.
Playing a low note with a big sound is only possible with large opening between your lips, and by moving your cheek slightly down and out. Air compression will be low. Besides making sure that the embouchure is stable, playing low notes should be a very relaxed task, and your focus should be on moving a lot of air.
Playing higher notes requires a smaller lip opening and a higher cheek position. This will automatically lead to a higher air compression.
This is a really important notice: Correct high note embouchure combined with an open throat will trigger higher air compression. Increasing compression will NOT trigger correct high note embouchure or air flow. Continue reading
Making music is about much more than hitting the right note. Actually, hitting the right note is the least of it. After years of teaching and conducting musicians on all levels, this is the formula I have come up with in order to make music happen as soon as possible. This is of course not only a trombone lesson, but is true for all instruments.
When you play a piece of sheet music for the first time (or first few times), you probably won’t be able to get everything right. This is human and you won’t get shot for playing wrong notes. You might get shot for playing bad music though, so this is my approach to ensemble playing in general and sight-reading new music. Focus on: Continue reading
This is the trombone embouchure article I wish I had read many years ago (a bit hard though, since I had not written it then…). It would literally have saved me for years of struggles. I hope that you will benefit from it now instead, potentially saving you from a lot of trombone agony and brass pains.
Don´t blow at your trombone
Have you ever thought about the best way of getting air out of your lungs (or wherever you keep it) and through your trombone? This is the single most important thing to get right for brass players. Once you master the task of effortlessly getting the air out of your body and through your horn, you will be able to focus on playing music. Getting this 90% right is not all that hard, and then you will spend the rest of your life perfecting those last 10%.
In order to turn that precious air into beautiful trombone music, there are three obstacles you have to clear: Continue reading
I am a bit ashamed. Despite the good response I got on the book ’10 Jazz Etudes For Trombone’, it has taken me four years to complete the second edition. But finally, here it is, the brand new trombone book
10 More Jazz Etudes For Trombone
written by Anders Larson (that´s me).
The structure of the book
If you are familiar with the first edition of the jazz etudes, you will recognize the setup in the second edition. For those of you who do not know the first book, this is how it is structured: Continue reading
I knew there was a practical use for trombones, but I am still amazed that it turned out to be so valuable in real life. Due to the size of these animals, the cowboy has wisely chosen a large bore trombone. Mouthpiece size and rim shape remains unknown.
This is also proving that there is is a large audiense for improvised trombone music.
Blow cowboy, blow!