How to Master the Trombone

Mastering the trombone requires an understanding of fundamentals.

Mastering the trombone requires developing complete control over the instrument and all of its various techniques. To master any instrument will take serious dedication and time. The fundamentals of any good regimen if performed regularly will help any player improve and with enough time, eventually master the instrument. The trombone is a versatile instrument used in several genres, including jazz, concert, blues, reggae and popular music such as ska and rock.

Step 1 Improve tone quality by warming up each day with long tones. Long tones are whole notes slurred on a chromatic scale. Start at F in the middle of the staff and slur chromatically in half steps down to Bb. Then jump the octave and do the same exercise. This will increase endurance and tone quality.

Step 2 Perform tonguing exercises on the pitches used from Step 2. Start the metronome at about 72 beats per minute, and play three 4-note sets of 16th notes on each note. Increase the metronome speed by two clicks per day. Eventually, you should aim for single tongue 16th notes at 144 beats-per-minute.

Step 3 Practice major and minor scales each day. At first, just play one octave, then increase your range to two octaves and eventually aim for three octaves on each scale. Alternate playing each scale by alternating between slurring and tonguing. Aim to increase the speed for your scales to 16th notes at 120 beats per minute.

Step 4 Increase your flexibility by starting on the lowest note in each position, slurring up to the highest note and then back down, including every note that is capable of play with a single position.

Step 5 Improve your high range by starting on high Bb and playing the following half-note series: Bb, B, C, B, Bb. Continue this series by starting a half note higher each time. The next series will be B, C, Db, C, B.

Step 6 Start at the beginning of the Arban's method book, and practice every exercise. Do not move on to the next exercise until you have mastered the previous one at the recommended tempo mark in the text.

Step 7 Play etudes to increase your musicality and ability to perform. Practice each etude with special attention to breathing at the end of phrases to increase your lung capacity.

Step 8 Perform in as many ensembles as possible. The best way to develop playing ability is through steady performances. Join a community band and network to find other venues to perform in.

"Arban's Famous Method for Trombone"; Joseph Jean Baptiste Laurent Arban; 2000 Virginia Tech: Metronome []

Resources (Further Reading)
"Melodious Etudes for Trombone Book 1"; Joannes Rochut;


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