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: Crescendo with full control

    Can you play a perfect crescendo in the middle/low range going from ppp to fff in one breath? This exercise is great to improve those skills!

    But before you start playing the exercise in the sheet music gallery, please read the following:
    The goal is not to play as strong as possible all the time! The goal is to get the feeling of opening up your throat and let the notes in ff pour out effortlessly.

    The analogy of a water pouring out of a tap is a great way to visualize the air flow. Take a look at these three pictures: Continue reading

      Trombone lesson: 5 minutes breathing exercise

      I know what you think: Yet another five minutes exercise that is supposed to change my life…
      But no, this time you can actually settle with two or three minutes! And it really did make a big difference for me the first time I tried it, so I strongly recommend that you tried it out.

      I got into some really bad problems with air flow a few years ago. After playing for years without thinking much about breathing with a natural talent for relaxed air flow I slowly got into trouble. It took me a very long time to get rid of the bad habits, both physically and mentally. This following exercise is one that really helped me. It is actually adapted from an excellent article about breathing problems (the Valsalva Maneuver) by Brad Howland.

      I recommend that you stand up and make sure that you are relaxed and in good balance without your instrument. Continue reading

        Trombone lesson: Lip trills

        Admitted, this exercise is not the most fun you can have with a trombone, but there´s no way around the fact that there´s a lot of hard work involved if you want to be a top performer on a brass instrument. Footballers don´t kick a ball around all the time at practice…

        With that in place: Let´s do something about the world of lip trills. Regardless of the genres you play, they will be needed at some point.

        There is only one way to make it work, and that is to start slow. Find a metronome, and set a slow tempo that allows you to play the whole phrase. I recommend that you write down the tempo you can play it in today, and try to raise it by a few beats per minute every day over a period of time. The goal is to get to the point where you don´t notice the individual notes, and just let it flow. Think of it as running, you don´t want to think about every step you take, but rather just the direction and the speed. Continue reading

          Trombone lesson: Flexibility – working on speed

          Having good flexibility on your brass instrument is fundamental. In basically all music you will play, you will find use for the flexibility skills you worked on in the practise room. Not always the most fancy and exciting work, but someone has to do it – and I´m afraid that someone is you. And me. And all the other brass players out there.

          The exercise
          Working on control and precision is important, but you should work on speed as well. This exercise really help you speed up your flexibility chops. The pattern I have chosen as example is by no mean my own, but at the other hand it is well known and I doubt that someone will come after me and claim ownership to it! Of course, you can use any pattern you want, but this one is well suited to play in a high tempo. Continue reading

            Trombone lesson: Improve your playing in five minutes!

            Doesn´t that sound nice, improving your playing in five minutes! Well, this exercise will not actually make you play trombone better, but it will help you get the most out of what you already know.

            As I have written before, getting the airflow up and running in a relaxed manner really helps you get a good response on the horn. This small warmup and breathing exercise is all about that. Continue reading

              Trombone lesson: Pentatonic scales – how and why

              Do you know your minor pentatonic scales? And I mean really know them, up and down and inside out? I recommend that you spend some time with those five tones in all keys. It is a great way to build up your technical skills on the instrument and learn to find your way around the instrument.

              Pentatonic scale or blues scale? There´s a important difference. The blues scale is identical to the pentatonic scale, but it also consists of the b5 (or #11). So pentatonic scale has five notes and the blues scale has six. This post is about the pentatonic scale, and how to use it. I´ll get back to the blues scale later on.
              Continue reading

                Trombone lesson: Triads and inversions part 2

                Here´s some more triads to play around with. Check out this trombone lesson for the background of this exercise. I suggest that you try to come up with some more exercises in this style, and practise them without sheet music. There are some quite interesting melodic lines out there to be explored! 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

                    Trombone lesson: Triads and inversions part 1

                    Regardless if you are an improviser or a ligit (classical) player it´s very important to be able to hear the music you play. And that is actually hearing it before you play it (if you can´t hear it while playing you should consider plumbing or mountain climbing instead of playing music). Knowing what the next note is going to sound like makes it much easier to play in tune and with rich sound. I would actually say that the audience can hear the difference if you know the music by heart or not, even if you play it correct and in tune. Continue reading