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

    Flow and pitch on mouthpiece

    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!
    Continue reading

      Trombone Lesson: Great mouthpiece embouchure

      Buzzing for great trombone chops

      This is a simple little buzzing exercise that will help you improve airflow and get rid of bad habits related to attack or tonguing. I often use it as a warmup exercise, making it the first thing I play that day.

      The important thing here is flow. Make sure that airflow does´t stop at any time when you play the legato part of the exercise. There should be no difference in the way you blow when you go from glissando to legato. The only thing that should happen in the legato section is that the tongue make small fast movements to create a smooth attack on each note. You can check in a morris to make sure that no unwanted face or mouth movements are triggered when you go from glissando to legato.

      Play the pattern starting in a comfortable range where you have good control over sound and pitch on the mouthpiece. Try starting on a Bb or F, and gradually expand the range both up and down playing repeating the pattern. Continue reading

        Trombone lesson: Tongueing – Tuh or Tut?


        How to improve your trombone playing with 5 minutes of theory (and a lot more practice…)
        or
        The only way to get to the next level of brass playing
        or
        Get that music-school-trombone-sound out of my life!!!
        or
        The truth about one of the worst and most common bad habits among brass players

        Are you convinced that you continue reading this? Good, then let us get down to business! This post is about attack and tonguing for trombone players and ALL other brass players. This post is about how to discover one of the most common bad habits among brass players – and more important – how to get rid of it. Continue reading

          Trombone lesson: Flexibility on trombone and mouthpiece – Part 2

          Did you miss part 1 in this series? Read more here: Flexibility on trombone and mouthpiece – Part 1.

          In this second part with exercises for both trombone and mouthpiece, the focus is on octaves and a mix of staccato and legato playing. The idea is to work on mouthpiece and trombone simultaneously to make sure that you use a similar embouchure. Beware of the pitch on the mouthpiece, especially when playing staccato phrases.

          When a task is repeated over time, the muscle memory will be better and better at remembering how to do it, eventually allowing it to be performed without very much effort. This is important when playing on the mouthpiece since there is no tubing to “force” the lips to vibrate with the correct speed. You should combine this with using your ears to be able to hear the next pitch, before you play it.

          By practicing the switch from mouthpiece to trombone, you will improve instrument control and your ability to hit the right pitch on the trombone.

          The trick with playing on mouthpiece alone, is also to use the muscles at the side of the mouth where the lips meet, without creating tensions elsewhere in your body, disturbing the free air flow.

          Good luck!



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          You will find this exercise and many others in the book Flexibility for Trombone – 38 pages in print friendly pdf format.

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            Trombone lesson: Doodle Tonguing – Part 1

            INTRODUCTION TO DOODLE TONGUING

            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

              Trombone lesson: Triad inversions work out

              It was supposed to be a simple little exercise, didn´t expect it to end up covering nine pages of sheet music!

              This is an exercise about the different types of triads and their inversions. Triads are a fundamental part of western music, both classical, jazz and pop/rock etc. You don´t need a bachelor in triadism to spot the difference between major and minor, but when you include the different inversion, mix minor, major, augmented and diminished it can be a bit more tricky to tell them apart. Continue reading

                Trombone lesson: My favorite warmup

                Nothing fancy here, just a great warm up exercise that I use on a (almost) daily basis. It´s a good combination of legato and staccato and starts in a relaxed range and goes down. Deep down! Try not to give up half way in order to get the most out of it. Continue reading