Hands-on jazz exercise: Basic patterns with free sheet music and audio

This is a free trombone lesson about improvising over basic tonic chords in all keys. It features downloadable sheet music and audio files.

I am in the making of a new trombone book with patterns for jazz improvising. Since I insist of doing it thoroughly, it is taking me forever, so I decided that it is about time to share some of the content. And the best way to not get paid, is giving it away for free, so that is what I do.

Playing simple “inside” phrases

I have heard too many jazz students (and pros) play advanced upper structure phrases, turning complicated scales inside out and moving complex patterns around. Being able to do so is great, but there is one big BUT involved.

Often these players are so eager to sound like their jazz heroes playing advanced modern that they forget to get the basics in place. And you don´t fool me! I find it disturbing listening to a player who, for a few bars is playing hip, advanced phrases exploring the outer edges of the harmonies, only to follow up with an attempt to play a simple phrase but with a major seventh on a dominant chord. Or forgetting to go to the subdominant in the fifth bar of a straight ahead blues after showcasing outer space alternative pentatonic scale patterns.

It is like cooking a Michelin-worthy dish of marinated shark fillets with deep ocean seaweed salad, but forgetting to add salt. Or serving a casserole that has cooked for hours without tasting it first.

Would you ever serve food without tasting it first? In my world that equals playing jazz phrases that you know should work over a certain chord but you have no idea of how it sounds before it comes out of your trombone bell, instead of playing something you can actually feel and hear inside your head.

In my perspective, playing advanced melodic lines when improvising, is only interesting if you are able to use it as a contrast to something more simple. That could be an inside phrase over some basic chords. Most jazz tunes give you the opportunity to play simple, melodic stuff as well as advanced patterns, and I suggest you make use of that. 

Try this basic jazz pattern exercise and become a better person

This is a pattern from my coming book “Patterns For Two-armed But Creative Trombone Players That Want To Become Greater Jazz Players Than They Currently Are” (I am not 100% set on the title of the book yet). It enables you to play simple phrases in all keys, with a audio track to back you up. My guess is that you will find out that some keys just wont pop out of the horn like they should. Gb major, I´m talking to you, why can´t you be more like my buddy F major?!?

First, just play the pattern reading the sheet music. Try different tempos. Now, try to memorise the pattern and play it in all twelve keys again. When this is getting comfortable, try play small variations of the phrase as you go. Can you transpose the phrase with the variation you just made? Or does it make more sense to tweak the phrase in another way in the next key because of trombone physics?

Getting the basics in place

With this sort of exercises, you will get a good foundation for your jazz improvising. Starting with simple phrases enable you to hear and understand what you are playing. At the same time, you get a healthy technical trombone workout, and get better at finding your way around the horn in all keys. Slowly, you will be able to hear and feel more complex phrases, and by that time, my book should be out there!

Scroll down for free pdf sheet music exercise and play along audio tracks!

Any downsides with this method?

Plenty! Here is a short list of what it wont help you with.

  • Will not increase your ability to attract the opposite sex.
  • Will not improve your general health and physical condition.
  • Will not make you look cool. Just sound cool.
  • Will not keep gigs away from your calender.
  • Will not alienate banjo players.

With these warnings in place, I suggest you have a go with the free sheet music and audio tracks provided below.


Beware of the not-so-groovy robotic rhythm section, this is not real music… But it is a useful tool for practicing.

Let me know if you find this is helpful, and stay tuned for more samples from the pattern book (and eventually the book itself)!

Play great, and make sure to hear what you play,

Anders Larson

    7 thoughts on “Hands-on jazz exercise: Basic patterns with free sheet music and audio

    1. I love that you have transposed the patterns to all keys. I have many educational trombone books that show you a pattern in one key then add the phrase “Now transpose and practice this in every keys” I have limited time to practice I want to spend my time with lips on the mouthpiece not transcribing exercices. Thank you.
      Reserve me a copy.

    2. Thanks for an inspiring donation to the trombone community.
      John Lawson
      Fitzgerald, Georgia USA

    3. Anders- these are very good. Important not to duplicate Rich Willey’s “Jazz improv materials handbook” but I’m sure you have seen this. Cheers.

    4. Thanks for providing these great exercises to help practice flow and flexibility.

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