Trombone for entry-level students

Introduction

This interactive introduction is the perfect workshop for those who would like to try playing the trombone. No prior knowledge necessary!

I’m sure quite a few people have wondered how this instrument with the interesting slide works and wouldn’t mind trying it out for themselves. Here’s the good news: I can arrange for you to try out the trombone. And I won’t just be talking about the instrument itself"”you’ll also learn how to play your first notes. At the end of the day, you will be able to play your first song on the trombone!

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How do I get a trombone?

Jupiter trombone

Just go to a music store near you and tell them that you’re interested in the trombone, that you discovered an interactive workshop and would like to try...

A trombone has three parts: the bell, the slide and the mouthpiece.
These parts can only be assembled in one way, after which the instrument looks as shown.

Cautionary note:
The slide is locked with a lock nut. While the nut is open, you need to hold the slide Trombone- richtige Haltungto keep it from falling.
The left hand needs to hold the trombone in the first comfortable place behind the nut. Most beginners are encouraged to use their entire left hand.
The right hand is in charge of moving the slide (careful"”never release it).
To play a note, put the mouthpiece against your lips.
Any movement towards the mouth should be gentle to avoid damaging your teeth...

Correct breathing

If you are still holding the trombone, lock the slide and gently put it on a flat surface.
As most humans don’t really reflect on the way they breathe in and out, the "absolute beginner" workshop only covers breathing out.

Breathing out and feeling

Given that the air released when breathing out "normally" is not suitable for playing a wind instrument, use the unvoiced syllable "pu" for breathing out to feel how our body tension allows the air to flow in a controlled way.
In other words: breathe in, then breathe out with a long "pu". Repeat this several times.

...for sound production with the mouthpiece.

JUPITER trombones, mouthpiece, Paul Schütt

Hold the mouthpiece with your right hand, breathe in, gently put the mouthpiece to your lips and breathe out"”through the mouthpiece"”with that "pu" sound.
You should now hear an airy noise.

Audio sample

JUPITER trombone mouthpiece, Paul Schütt

Hold the mouthpiece with your right hand, breathe in, gently put the mouthpiece to your lips, press your lips slightly together and breathe out"”through the mouthpiece"”with a "pu" sound.
You should now hear a note.

Audio sample 2

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The first notes on a trombone

The sound is generated by the mouth"”the instrument as such is merely an amplifier. This means that we are now ready to play your first note on the instrument itself.

Audio sample 3

When the slide is pulled all the way in (don’t forget to unlock it), we say that the slide is in "first position".

A trombone slide has seven positions of equal lengths (before it drops out of the instrument), and so allows you to play seven different notes.
Try to change the pitch of the note you are playing by moving the slide. The slide being all the way up at the moment, you can only extend it, and so the pitch drops.

Audio sample 4

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Your first song on the trombone

For your first song, you need to play two different notes"”and so use two slide positions.

1st slide position

Audio sample 5

3rd slide position

Audio sample 7

Now listen to audio sample #5 (1st slide position) and try to play it the second time around. Then try audio sample #6 (1st slide position) all by yourself:

Audio sample 6

Let’s do the same with slide position 3. Listen to audio sample #7, try to play along, next try it on your own, with audio sample #8:

Audio sample 8

The first song is structured as follows:

4 beats: count-in        4 beats: 1st slide position         4 beats: 3rd slide position
4 beats: 1st slide position              4 beats: rest        4 beats: 3rd slide position
4 beats: 1st slide position              4 beats: 1st slide position         4 beats: rest

Listen to audio sample #9 and play along:

Audio sample 9

...and then start audio sample #10 and play all by yourself:

Audio sample 10

Congratulations!

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Tips and tricks

To steer clear of mistakes likely to slow you down, I suggest you find a trombone teacher.
The various slide positions allow you to play many more higher and lower notes. These become available as you vary your lips’ tension.
Although "pu" works a treat for your first notes, consider replacing it with a "ta" or "da". The feeling should be similar to spitting some lint away from your lips.

Have fun!                                                              Pictures: Jule Schütt


Paul L. Schütt

Details about Paul Schütt

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