Trombone lesson: Tongueing – Tuh or Tut?

How to improve your trombone playing with 5 minutes of theory (and a lot more practice…)
The only way to get to the next level of brass playing
Get that music-school-trombone-sound out of my life!!!
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: 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: 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 3


              Doodle tonguing is the perfect weapon for jazz trombone players who want to play fast and smooth melody lines. It is a technique for legato playing with built in swing phrasing!

              Once you have the basics in place, and feel comfortable playing with doodle tongue, it is time to work on speed and strength. I use these exercises a lot, both to improving and maintaining my doodle skills. They are very useful, regardless if you just have begun mastering doodle tongue, or if you have been using the technique for centuries.

              Use a metronome, and pick a tempo where you can play the exercises with great control and precision, and increase the tempo as you improve. Don´t to set the tempo too high! That might make you feel cool in the practice room, but you will sound bad on stage…

              Playing these exercises is actually quite hard, and you will Continue reading

                Trombone lesson: Doodle Tonguing – Part 2

                This is the second part of a series of articles about doodle tonguing, and this time I want to share a few basic exercises to improve both speed and precision when using doodle tongue.

                I recommend that you take a few lessons with a doodling trombone player if you are new in this field to ensure that you get it right from the beginning. As usual, it is a lot easier to learn something the right way right away, rather than changing bad habits later!

                The main use of doodle tongue is when you play fast legato lines, but to get there you should make sure that you can play it slow as well. The following exercises are all basic, and are designed to allow you to focus on getting the attacks perfect. Continue reading