This video is about what to do before you pick up the trombone. A warmup warmup so to speak.
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What’s up, Slide Masters! This is Anders Larson from digitaltrombone.com with yet another trombone pro tip.
When we play the trombone, we want it to feel as effortless as possible. If one way of doing something on the horn is easier than doing it another way, the easy way is the way to go! Always. To make your trombone playing effortless, you must make sure that your body is in a good mood and prepared for the amazing task of making trombone magic. Two things stand out:
- Relaxed, open breathing.
If these things aren’t in place before you start playing, uh, chances are they won’t be after hours of practicing either.
I will now show you two physical exercises that will help you get rid of that bagpipe sound! Once I have shown you what to do, pause the video, and try it out right away yourself.
First, let’s fix your posture! I got this exercise from my daughter a few years ago. They used it as warmup with her gymnastics team, but it works just as well or even better as a pre-trombone warmup. And this is likely the one gymnastics move that a trombone player can actually perform… This is what to do:
- Stand up straight. Arms stretched out to each side
- With your arms straight, start moving your hands in small circles. Start with a forward rotation, and then switch to a backward motion
- Move your hands up and down, as if you were a bird
- Turn your palms facing forward, and move your arms back and forth.
You will probably start feeling some fatigue at step 4. That’s good and means that you are putting in some work.
Lower your arms while keeping your back straight. Feel that?! That’s good posture entering your body. Say hi to your new upright self!
Try repeating each of the four patterns ten, fifteen or twenty times, depending on how good shape you are in. And remember to keep your back straight all the time. When you let your arms down, you should get this sensation of something (or someone) pulling you gently upwards, making sure your posture is better than a minute ago.
Ok, you’ve learned to stand upright. Congrats on that! Now it’s time for something life saving – BREATHING. You are probably doing it right now – otherwise you better get started or you might pass away.
Breathing is normally controlled by the autonomic nervous system, so we don’t have to think about inhaling and exhaling all the time. This is really good for mankind, or we would die everytime we go to sleep, and that would be inconvenient. Unlike your heartbeat, for example, which is entirely controlled by the autonomic nervous system, we can choose to override the system when it comes to breathing. We choose when and how to inhale and exhale.
As brass players – breathing is our superpower, so this is good news! This breathing exercise focuses on the HOW to breathe, making sure that inhaling equals relaxing, and exhaling equals work. Not hard work. Just making sure we are totally in control during exhaling.
This is really the key: making sure inhaling is relaxing. When you have emptied your lungs completely, your belly should instantly move outward, filling up your lungs in a heartbeat. This lets you play your horn again rapidly while making sure airflow is both open and easy.
Let’s get started!
- Exhale with an open throat and even airflow, until your lungs are completely empty.
- Hold your breath with empty lungs for a few seconds
- Relax and let your belly expand outward, and feel the air filling your lungs from the very bottom.
- Repeat this a few times.
Try this simple but effective breathin exercise a few times daily. You should become better and better at relaxing and let air in quickly! It will make you feel good and help you get rid of unwanted tensions in your body. Don’t like the look of your belly popping out? Sorry, but that’s the prize for playing great trombone!
Embrace your belly, and as always: Slide on!