Trombone lesson: focused practicing in 7 steps

Practicing with a wandering mind
I don´t know about you, but my mind tends to take a stroll during my trombone practicing. I have surrendered to the fact that I will walk around the room while playing, that´s ok, but not being focused on the task mentally is worse. This post is not about cleaning your mind, meditation, finding your inner zen or other new age-ish approaches.

Solutions
My best solution is to plan what you will work on, and stick to that until you got it down. Don not try to cover all fields of trombone playing; scales, etudes, legato, flexibility, long notes, short notes, high notes, low notes, green notes, slide bending, trombone case remodeling, mouthpiece disinfection… Choose one or two focus areas, and find some suitable exercises (preferably some that you can not play properly already) and stick with that until it works. Of course you should work on general trombone playing as well, warming up properly, and make sure that Continue reading

    Trombone lesson: Flexibility with rhythm

    There are a series of articles here on Digitaltrombone about flexibility for brass players, and they all have their distinct advantages. Many trombone flexibility exercises tend to have a rather uninspiring rhythm and focus mainly on changing notes.

    With these trombone exercises, I have added some rhythmical flavor, making them a bit more fun to play, but most of all, adding a new challenge to the concept of flexibility.

    You should focus on playing these patterns as effortless as possible. Whenever you are changing note or changing from quarter notes to eight notes, think light and easy, rather than trying to nail it with force. More ballet, less sumo. 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: Improvisation as a daily routine

        It does´t matter if you are a jazz or classical player, you still want to make music. And you should still make music in your practice room. A really good way to get some music into your daily routine at an early stage, is to play some free improvisation. Again, it does not matter what genre you play, as a matter of fact, if you are a non-improviser I would say that this tip is even more important!

        Here is what I want you to do:
        Find a simple warm up exercise and play it for a few minutes, just to get some air through the horn. Then you play a totally free improvisation for five minutes. Just play, and see where it takes you! Don´t worry about stiff lips, bad sound ore any other detail that probably would distract you if you where playing your standard 4 pages of flexibility exercises.

        “But I have never learned how to improvise!” No problem. Here is the key: Continue reading

          Trombone lesson: Flexibility – moving around

          Yet another flexibility exercise – seems to be that time of the year! These patterns show you some ways to get out of the first-down-to-seventh-position-playing-the-same-pattern-mode, making it more fun to play. This also makes your flexibility practicing come closer to the actual use of it in real music.

          Many trombone (and other brass players) tend to do their flexibility home work, but as soon as they start moving the slide around, they put an attack on every note and cut up their airflow. Don´t go there! On of the benefits of flexibility exercises, is that it improves your legato playing – that is, if you actually use your flexibility skills. Both legato and flexibility should focus on constant air flow! 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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              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

                Ask a trumpet player if he would rather play the lead part of Thad Jones´ ballad To You twice in a row, or have a sex change surgery! This tune is a great example on demanding static playing – lots of long, soft notes and few breaks to relax the lips.

                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: Flexibility with pedal tones

                    I have written about the value of working with pedal tones before, but there is more to it! In these exercises, focus lays on including pedal tones when you work on flexibility on the trombone (or other brass instruments), and being able to access them effortless and without changing the embouchure to much compared to the normal range. Continue reading