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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    Flexibility on trombone and mouthpiece – Part 1

    No secret for trombone and other brass players that practicing flexibility is one of the keys to good technique and chops! Playing the same exercise on both mouthpiece and instrument is great both for building up strength and gaining more control over the instrument.

    Slightly re-inventing the wheel, I have made a bunch of trombone exercises that focus on playing both on the trombone and the mouthpiece. They are supposed to be played first on trombone and then on mouthpiece, but as a variation you could start with the mouthpiece. There will be some fiddling around with the mouthpiece on and off, but please bare with me on this one. Continue reading

      Trombone lesson: Dynamic versus static practicing

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      When practicing a brass instrument, I make the distinction between static and dynamic exercises. Static exercices are based on long notes and slow legato lines with the lips constantly vibrating. This slowly build up lactic acid in the muscles controlling the lips, and make them stiff and numb. Dynamic exercices at the other hand, are built up around shorter notes, variation, staccato phrases and more space between the notes. Continue reading

        Trombone lesson: Mike Stern lick in all keys

        I stole this phrase from a Mike Stern recording a few years ago because I liked the sound of it. And bored on a rainy day, I decided to write it down in all keys and work on it on the trombone. It turned out to be a quite hard but rewarding technical trombone exercise. Try to play it as written, and you´ll get a good high range work out!

        Enjoy…
        Continue reading

          Trombone lesson: Kick starting lips and air flow

          Monday morning in the practice room? This is a great little exercise to get the chops going when you first pick up your horn that day. The key to all brass playing is in the air flow, and the key to a good air flow can often be found by working on a full, overtone rich sound in the medium to medium low range.

          In this exercisee, I focus on F (below key hole-C) an augmented fourth down to B.* Many players have a hard time getting this register to sound as good as the rest of the middle range. One of the reasons is that the sound waves of the fifth in any given slide position doesn´t fit the instrument as goods as the fundamental on the same position (for example F versus Bb on 1st position). Continue reading

            Trombone lesson: Practice with the “wrong” mouthpiece!

            Practicing low range with a small mouthpiece
            If you are working on the low range, consider doing the exercises you work on, on a smaller mouthpiece, or even on a smaller trombone if you play on a large bore tenor or bass trombone. Why? Well, playing a smaller mouthpiece makes it even more important to have the airflow centered in order to get the full sound. Big instruments and mouthpieces tend to be more forgiving if your embouchure and/or air flow isn´t dead on. You can test yourself: play a few notes in the low mid / low range in f on your large equipment. Now do the same with a smaller mouthpiece/trombone. Can you get the full sound out of it, or does it feels like it “locks up”? Of course, a big fff low E on a small bore horn with a 12C mouthpiece wont sound that great, but in general, you Continue reading

              Trombone lesson: Save chops!

              You might know the feeling, playing all those scale patterns one half tone up at the time… Seven keys to go ands the lips already feel as flexible as a train rail track!

              There are lots of exercises where you gradually expand the range, and end up playing in either the extreme high or low register. I will give you a little but effective tip how to get the most out of those exercises, without busting your chops.

              Expand from the middle
              The solution is simple, make sure that you start in the middle range, and work your way both up and down from there. Mixing high and low range both save chops, and helps you to play with the same embouchure in all registers. This mouthpiece exercise works this way. Continue reading

                Trombone lesson: maj7 and maj7#5 patterns in jazz improvisation

                Are you a jazz improviser? Do you know all the maj7 (major seven) and maj7#5 (major seven sharp five) patterns in all keys by heart? If not, I strongly recommend that you get started! They are extremely useful in when you improvise since they set the mood of a chord very clearly, and most of them are quite well suited for trombone as well.

                The reason that I bring up the maj7 and the maj7#5 patterns at the same time, is because Continue reading

                  Trombone lesson: Doodle Tonguing – Part 4

                  DOODLE TONGUING IN A JAZZ CONTEXT

                  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: High range glissando

                    This exercise is intended to help you expand your range with full control of the embouchure. It is designed to let you start in a comfortable mid range, and work your way both up and down, making sure that your lips are prepared to play in any register at all times. I like the idea of expanding the range both up and down in the same exercise, as it helps you keep the embouchure in place, as well as you “warm down” a little between the high range pats of the exercises.

                    Your focus should be to keep the same lip position on the mouthpiece, regardless of the register you play in. The only change should be Continue reading