Appreciation of the Trombone

 

Students who play the trombone, one of the classic jazz and big band instruments, have taken on a lot. Their instrument of choice is long and bulky, it produces a bizarre sound and it is highly demanding. So, good for them for choosing a sound that demands hard work and a lot of love. Here’s how you can make the most of practice time with your learner:

Get the breathing right

So much of the brass instruments is in the breath, probably none more so than the tuba. Unlike physical exercise or relaxation, brass playing requires mouth breathing, both in and out. Starting a lesson with a quick review of how to breathe properly will help your learner get in the right state of mind. Also, take a moment to go over maintaining the breath’s rhythm, not letting the flow break at any point. This will warm up the abdomen as well as get your student going, so don’t skip this part.

Hear the music in your mind

Let your student “visualize” the sound that he or she wants to create. You may want to play a recording of another artist or even another student to help get going in the right direction. With a clear destination in mind, your student can pick up the trombone and start the journey towards a beautiful song.

Slur it

Although students moan about them, lip slurs are a key to trombone playing. Make sure to do up and down slurs daily and don’t let anyone get away with using their tongues or any other form of cheating. Remind your student that these build embouchure strength over time. Be ready for some real frustration from your young musician; slurs do not come easily and only get smoother with lots of practice. Those first few weeks may be hard on them, so be an empathetic mentor.

Most importantly, celebrate the genres that make the most of the trombone. Make sure your students get a chance to really enjoy swing, big band and jazz and hear just how amazing the trombone can be.

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