Can you buzz? This is why you should! And how to.

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.

Ingredients:
– 2 lips
– 1 or 2 lungs
– 1 trombone mouthpiece
– one arm with hand attached (or a mouthpiece stand)
– 9 minutes of precious time

trombone buzz ingredients

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

    Trombone lesson: Pentatonic licks for 2013

    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

      14 tips for trombone flexibility

      What to think about when working on your flexibility

      1. 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?
      2. 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!
      3. 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!
      4. 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.
      5. 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

        Trombone lesson: The twenty positions trombone

        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

          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: GROOVE MERCHANT SAX CHORUS

              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

                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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