I was wrong about how to lip buzz for many years. Now I believe I figured out how to approach it. This is really helping my playing, hope it will help yours too! I recommend that you spend the first nine minutes of your trombone practicing on this.
– 2 lips
– 1 or 2 lungs
– 1 trombone mouthpiece
– one arm with hand attached (or a mouthpiece stand)
– 9 minutes of precious time
Combining lip and mouthpiece buzzing
Lately, I have been experimenting with a combination of lip buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing. It has proven to be a great way to build up embouchure, as well as kick starting the lips. Using the lips attached to my specific body, I have found that lip buzzing somewhat equals mouthpiece buzzing one octave higher. In other words, a phrase played on the mouthpiece should be buzzed one octave lower on the lips to be comparable.
Buzz right or go to bed
Years ago, I occasionally did some lip buzzing trying to expand my high range. I once did this before a gig in the same dressing room as a really (as in really) good trumpet player, and he noted that I was able to lip buzz much higher than him. Since he has a world class embouchure, and plays effortlessly in any range, it got me thinking. I had seen him do some lip buzzing, and noticed that his buzzing sound was much richer and mellower than mine. This got me thinking, and I realised that I was actually lip buzzing all wrong! Continue reading →
I had the explicit pleasure of visiting the S.E. Shires factory and try out a wide range of their trombones. They are located in an humble industrial area in Hopedale, Massachusetts. It is about one hour drive from Boston, and four hours from New York. The factory building is very discreet, and you would not think that a world class brass instrument manufacturer is based within such a timid building, but do not let the appearance fool you, they are serious about their business, and really know what they are doing! And how to do it. And why. And probably when too. Great New York trombone player (and Shires artist) Michael Davis were kind enough to give me an introduction to Steve Shires himself and Ben Griffin (Shires sales rep and pro trombone player). Ben has a deep knowledge about trombones in all sizes, and was very helpful during my visit. He set me up in the Shires showroom, and kept feeding me with new trombone parts for several hours.
Since I knew I would be buying a small bore horn, this was where I started out. Unfortunately I never got around to try out their large bore trombones, which gives me a good reason to visit them again in the future! In this test, I will review both the parts I tried, as well as the Michael Davis Signature Model, and of course tell more about the model I settled for. Continue reading →
Christmas is over, and we have now entered 2013. For me that mean picking up the trombone again and get back in the practice room. To get back in shape, I tried to come up with something to challenge myself with, and the result are these pentatonic trombone licks. It is basically just a three note lick, but it moves around in all twelve keys, following the circle of fourths.
For me, a good trombone lesson learned is when I forgot about the horn and just play music. This exercise help me do just that – shift focus away from the trombone, embouchure, breathing and other technical aspects, and rather just try to get the right notes in the right place. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
What to think about when working on your flexibility
Don´t play too fast! Speed is nice, but always make sure to play the exercise well rather than fast. Are all notes in tune? Is your sound good?
In a hurry? Play exercises on 1st, 3dr, 5th and 7th position (or 2nd, 4th and 6th). I do this when I want to cover more exercises without playing them sloppy. Saves you 50% of the time required for each exercise and only make it 34% less effective. See, that is a 16% gain right there!
Do it daily! Flexibility and embouchure exercises are essential for all brass players. Make sure it is a part of your daily routine. And then make your daily routine daily!
Keep embouchure in place. You don´t want to make big movements with your mouth when shifting notes. Look at yourself in a mirror and try to minimize it. Are you unnecessarily good looking? Another good reason to find that mirror.
Try playing exercises on both trombone and mouthpiece. This is a killer tip. When going back and forth between trombone and mouthpiece, you can really get some basic embouchure stuff in place. Try it. Continue reading →
A tenor trombone is always tuned in Bb, but unlike the trumpet, it is a non transposing instrument (probably because trombone players like to call a bone for a bone instead of a Bb for a C). There are two main types of tenor trombones, the small bore trombone and the large bore trombone. Both can be fitted with an F attachment. The bore refers to the actual size of the tubing, measured at the point where you insert the mouthpiece. This results in the need of two series of mouthpieces, built to fit either small or large bore horns.
The small bore trombone is typically used by jazz players, and has a bright sound. Due to the larger tubing, the large bore trombone is more mellow, and is the first choice among classical trombone players. I use to describe the difference in sound by comparing the sound of a jazz or pop singer with an opera singer ́s, although the difference is not that big on small and large bore trombones. Continue reading →
or more accurate: A TROMBONE LESSON ABOUT INTONATION
“The Trombone is the only instrument that in theory can play in perfect tune, but in practice never does.”
Sokrates, March 17, 421 B.C.
Luckily, since his days, trombones has evolved and are now made of metal instead of clumsy and heavy marble. And many trombone players have learned to actually play in tune as well! But Sokrates was on to something. Since we have a slide instead of valves, we can actually adjust the pitch and make it perfect without compensating with the lips. On a valve brass instrument, you have to do the work with the embouchure, or maybe a trigger on some notes.
So, what about that 20 positions trombone???
While most text books and teachers argue that the standard trombone has 7 positions, I would say that any trombone in practice has more than 20 positions, so the trombone on the picture is actually your trombone! Continue reading →
Ok, it does not have to be about hardcore breathing exercises and tongue wrecking scale patterns al the time… With christmas is coming up, I believe that it is time to chill out a bit and just relax. So, as a warm up before long hours in the TV sofa, watching ten year old romantic action thrillers, here´s a bunch of clips from the world of cartoons with focus on the TROMBONE. If you actually learn anything from this, my mission has failed…
Let´s start out with one of the really good ones, enjoy!
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 →
How come the saxes always get to play all the fun parts in big bands? Cool, beautiful and hip melody lines, accompanied by an occasional “bap” or “do-bauw” from the brass section. Ok, it is not the whole truth, but there are some fun sax parts that are (reasonably) playable on trombone as well. Do I need to say how good it will sound when played on trombone?
Thad Jones is known for his brilliant music for big band, and Groove Merchant is one of my favorites. Especially the sax chorus is amazing. Full-fat super-hip lines with intense voicings, this is Thad at his best! And even better, it is actually quite suited for trombone. Admitted, it is a bit technically challenging, but the range is spot on – when playing it an octave below the lead soprano. I wrote out the harmony as well, it´s a fun piece to solo on. Continue reading →