Recruiting and Retaining Trombonists in the Band Program The Basics!. Presented by: Robert Kehle Pittsburg State University At the Kansas Music Educators In-Service Workshop February 24, 2006 2:45-3:35 Century II Room 206 Wichita, Kansas
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Recruiting and Retaining Trombonists in the Band ProgramThe Basics!
Pittsburg State University
At the Kansas Music Educators In-Service Workshop
February 24, 2006 2:45-3:35
Century II Room 206
This program has been made possible through a grant from C. G. Conn.
- University Professor of Music @ Pittsburg State University
- Principle Trombone with the Springfield, MO Symphony Orchestra
- Trombonist with the PSU Brass Quintet
- Artist/clinician with C. G. Conn
- Degrees in Music Education and Trombone Performance from:
Washington State University
Studied trombone with:
Mr. M. Dee Stewart (Philadelphia Sym. Orch.)
Dr. S. Thomas Beversdorf (Pittsburgh Sym.)
Mr. Keith Brown (Philadelphia Sym. Orch.)
Mr. Ed Kleinhammer (Chicago Sym.)
It is how you get better.
Accept no substitute.
In order to improve
the playing of a
student we must
concentrate on the
critical factors of
The diaphragm works
like a bellows. It
sucks air in and the
result is an expansion
of the lungs as the
Do not let the shoulders rise unduly as this just creates tension in the upper body and lungs.
Tension = Tight sound
Seeing how long we can play.
Super soft playing.
These result in a
reduction of air to
down and we lose
the pitch and tone.
Breathe in on “HAW.”
The nose breath.
5. A poke in the ribs.
Inhale on a MOE for a 4 count – exhale on TOE for a 4 count.
Do not hold it in!
To open the oral cavity:
2. Say in a regular beat; “ee, ah, oh, ee, ah, oh” then inhale through the larger oral cavity.
It should be like a circle or swing, in and out.
The inhalation and exhalation should be one complete process.
Do not hold the air in as it creates tension.
To help a student
exhalation try the
Blow at the pinwheel and keep the wheel moving.
1.Noisy inhalation (especially a high sound) is a symptom of tension and constriction. Try lowering and relaxing the tongue.
2.Make sure that the student is not using the breath as a chance to change the embouchure in different registers.
3.Air blockage is a common problem. Often we tighten up in the throat or upper chest and in so doing we compensate by forcing the air. In reality what we have done is to constrict the airflow.
4.As a good rule, breathe early rather than waiting for the last second to breathe. Late inhalations are often tight and forced.
5.Breathe in time with the music. One beat or two, depending on the tempo will help relax the drawing of the breath and help you feel the tempo and beat.
7.Grunting sounds usually indicate that the player is constricting the throat.
When standing, stand
tall with the legs
slightly apart. Not
rigidly at attention as
If you slouch you will not be able to breathe properly.
Playing over the top of the stands can cause incorrect embouchures
Sit up straight, but relaxed.
Not at attention as shown.
NEVER do this!
For marching band you
may need to tilt back
slightly in order to get
the horns up. It is a
necessary evil, but a
posture following the
lines of the teeth is
Follow the teeth.
The horn is straight out
and look at the
mouthpiece seal, or
lack of proper seal.
The left hand forms
a ‘L’ or gun.
This is what it
should look like.
Hold that bell, NOT!
“There is nothing wrong with your chops, your mind is messing them up.”
Paraphrase from Bud Herseth, Chicago Symphony
Various ways to discuss
1. Saying ‘M.’
2. A straw in the mouth.
3. Say “Beau-ty” and hold on “Beau.”
Keep the corners
1. Pretend that you have dental floss across the teeth and pull down the corners.
2. Think of an anchor on both sides of the mouth.
The puffy cheeks
Trombonists need to anchor the
corners of the mouth, hold the
cheeks against the teeth, but not
rigidly, and minimize the puffing.
The bunched chin
Keep the chin flat, especially
as you ascend. Look in a
mirror as you practice and be
“Let me cram the mouthpiece through the back of my face,” says the masochist.
Try pressing your thumb against the lower
edge of the front teeth. Now look at the
indentation in the thumb. Imagine what
this is like to the soft lip tissue.
Ring on the lips.
If the lips become swollen it is a result of poor circulation.
An improper balance between the airflow and the lips.
a set of “thin” lips.
1. Make sure the air is there for the lips. Double check the breathing process.
2. Consciously strive to pull the horn away from the lips without losing the basic seal needed to play.
3. Make sure the lips are not thin in the mouthpiece. There needs to be a lip cushion, but too much will result in a stuffy sound.
“Air takes the stress off the embouchure...”
Norman Bolter, Boston Symphony, master class October 2, 1991
The best way to build up the
embouchure and increase
endurance is to do:
3.Mouthpiece buzzing (in moderation).
The mouth cavity should not be
closed; rather it should be in a
slightly open fashion.
Try closing your lips and let the
jaw hang; don’t close the teeth.
“The horn is a megaphone for us.”
Eric Cress, Co-principle Trombone with the London Symphony Orchestra.
“Attacks are the first thing people hear of your sound.”
Jay Friedman, Chicago Symphony
Tu= a defined start to the note
Do= a soft attack
Thu= a softer attack
Lu= an unaccented articulation. The notes butt up against each other for a very smooth legato sound
This creates a space between notes.
This allows for long notes and less space.
Almost a legato articulation with virtually no space between notes.
The true legato tongue.
This is where the player ends the note with the tongue. Brass players do not do this as it usually causes a disruption of the tone. It most often produces a ‘toowhat’ sound.
To fix the problem liken it to blowing out a match or candle. You just stop blowing and use a burst of air timed the proper length to get the job done.
The square root sign and/or ballooning the note.
This will result in a ‘doowa’ type of sound.
b.The balloon is similar in that. The player pushes off the end of the note with a crescendo.
This is where the student has learned to play the note without starting with an articulation. Somewhere along the line they didn’t hear and retain the concept of articulations.
To fix this you will need them to do what I call “beat the head against the wall practice.” This is where the student must practice with a ‘tu’ or ‘du’ articulation on various notes and ranges over and over and over and over ... again. DO NOT HOLD THE AIR IN BEFORE STARTING THE NOTE. Remember it is one process of in and out.
It is great TV commercial practice time.
This is by far the hardest aspect of trombone articulation.
The slide must be very fast. Tell them 100 MPH.
1. The slide must work correctly.
2. Practice by glissing between the notes. Make it so fast that you can barely hear the slide.
3. Use a ‘thu’ tongue to begin with. This is close to a true legato and works well in ensembles.
4. Once the ‘thu’ works then deal with the ‘lu’ tongue.
Make it happen on the note ‘F’ then add chromatic
An alternation between:
tu’ & ‘ku’ or ‘du’ & ‘gu.’
Practice saying it, but use the air too.
“In my opinion, the trombone is the true head of the family
of wind instruments, which I have named the ‘epic’ one. It
possesses nobility and grandeur to the highest degree; it
has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical
poetry, from religious, calm and imposing accents to
savage, orgiastic outbursts. Directed by the will of the
master, the trombones can chant like a choir of priests,
threaten, utter gloomy sighs, a mournful lament, or a
bright hymn of glory; they can break forth into awe
inspiring cries and awaken the dead or doom the living
with their fearful voices.”
Hector Berlioz, 19th Century composer
- The primary key to range is AIR.
- One way to speed up the air is by changing the mouth cavity by using the syllable ‘dee’ as opposed to ‘doo.’
- The air column must change like a camera lens reducing in size due to increased lighting.
- Lip slurs are a must in order to improve range.
Problem with being flat?
A warm-up to a brass
player is like a warm
up is to a runner. You
do not run flat out
without stretching and
getting the muscles
same is true for the
5.Try some mouthpiece buzzing as they mature.
a.Mary Had a Little Lamb
Have the students play children’s tunes.
Do not tell them the key. Just let them go
by giving them a starting note. They will
explore and learn new notes on their
This is a beginning improvisation
Most new beginning horns are at least OK.
Things to look for:
2. Are there large dents on the horn. Particularly check the slide and tuning slide bows for dents.
To start on a 12C
(Bach designation) is
fine, but switch them as
soon as possible to a
6½ AL. Middle school
or by high school is a
good time to switch.
The 6 ½ AL will take
more AIR, but it opens
up the sound.
Mouthpiece Trueing Tool
Slide width http://www.slidedr.com/
Stuck slide http://www.oberloh.com/SPL/spl1.htm
Sprung slide http://www.slidedr.com/
There are lots of
fine and qualified
They should not use
an expander to
remove slide dents.
That is model ‘T’
them about it.
I use the Slide Doctor
Blee a Blee a Blee
that’s all folks!