Trombone lesson: flexibility with staccato and doodle tongue

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…).

Flexibility-For-TromboneBy 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

    Trombone lesson: Bouncing ‘bone and large intervals

    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

      Trombone lesson: Doodle Pentatonics

      Pentatonic April – part II

      This is the second pentatonic exercise in a series of two, read the first part here

      New to doodle tonguing? Here is a series of articles to get you started.
      Doodle tonguing part I
      Doodle tonguing part II
      Doodle tonguing part III
      Doodle tonguing part IV

      Doodle Pentatonics
      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. Continue reading

        Trombone lesson: Doodle Tonguing – Part 4


        In the previous articles in this series, I have talked about the fundamental of doodle tonguing, basic and advanced exercises. Doodle tongue is the perfect solution for all jazz trombone players who want to be able to play fast and precise legato lines.

        This time I want to share some patterns and exercises that I have found to be very useful. This is stuff that I use a lot when I play improvised jazz solos. Let´s get started! Continue reading

          Trombone lesson: Doodle Tonguing – Part 3


          Doodle tonguing is the perfect weapon for jazz trombone players who want to play fast and smooth melody lines. It is a technique for legato playing with built in swing phrasing!

          Once you have the basics in place, and feel comfortable playing with doodle tongue, it is time to work on speed and strength. I use these exercises a lot, both to improving and maintaining my doodle skills. They are very useful, regardless if you just have begun mastering doodle tongue, or if you have been using the technique for centuries.

          Use a metronome, and pick a tempo where you can play the exercises with great control and precision, and increase the tempo as you improve. Don´t to set the tempo too high! That might make you feel cool in the practice room, but you will sound bad on stage…

          Playing these exercises is actually quite hard, and you will Continue reading

            Trombone lesson: Doodle Tonguing – Part 2

            This is the second part of a series of articles about doodle tonguing, and this time I want to share a few basic exercises to improve both speed and precision when using doodle tongue.

            I recommend that you take a few lessons with a doodling trombone player if you are new in this field to ensure that you get it right from the beginning. As usual, it is a lot easier to learn something the right way right away, rather than changing bad habits later!

            The main use of doodle tongue is when you play fast legato lines, but to get there you should make sure that you can play it slow as well. The following exercises are all basic, and are designed to allow you to focus on getting the attacks perfect. Continue reading

              Trombone lesson: Doodle Tonguing – Part 1


              If you are a trombone player with some interest in jazz, chances are great that you heard about doodle tonguing. It is a technique that enables you to play fast lines much smoother than with double tongue (this is NOT double tongue for brass players!).

              Playing fast lines on the trombone is actually more a question about articulation than being able to move slide fast enough. Since trombones don´t have keys or valves, we have to articulate different than other wind players, tonguing all the notes, possibly combined with natural legato where possible. Continue reading