Where do I start with learning the Trombone?
Sackbut! Yes, that is correct, sackbut. Do you think the trombone would have enjoyed as much success if it had been called the “sackbut”, because it nearly was. The word sackbut is derived from Middle French words sacker and bouter, which literally means pull and push, obviously referring to the moving slide of the trombone. The sackbut was basically the original trombone and interestingly it has hardly changed since the 1600s. So if you are considering learning the trombone, we have put together a little guide to help you along the way.
Should you buy an instrument or first find a teacher? It might seem a little like a chicken and egg question, but finding a teacher is key, as they will be able to advise you on which type of instrument to buy. Traditional lessons are likely to cost between £25-30 per hour, but you will probably find it more cost effective to learn online using a variety of Skype lessons, video tutorials and diagrams. There is also plenty of advice on buying instruments for beginners.
Of course there are various types of trombone but for the beginner it is advisable to start with a straight tenor trombone. This type of instrument requires less air to create a reasonable tone. However remember that this is simply good advice and not a hard or fast rule. And obviously the biggest influence on your trombone purchase is likely to be cash!
Once you have purchased your trombone, it is a good idea to surround yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Here is a quick guide on warm up exercises, ideal for beginners.
- Mouthpiece buzzing: Take out the mouthpiece and start buzzing in the middle of your range. There is no tonguing when buzzing.
- Long Tones: Focus on making a good quality tone. Take big breaths and relax.
- Lip Slurs: This relates to tightening or loosening the lips to change the note, no tonguing. Practice keeping the air flow consistent.
- Scales should be an essential part of your practice routine and it is advisable to play 2 to 3 scales every day.
As with other instruments the advice for practice sessions are short but often. The key is to stay motivated and to keep striving for your goals. Don’t see arduous tasks, such as mastering scales, as a painful stand alone exercise, but as part of a bigger picture which will result in you being able to expertly play your first solo. Keep the motivation going by asking yourself the following questions. Why do you want to play the trombone? What goals do I have? Who do I want to play for? Bear this in mind and it will motivate you to keep pushing.
Please let us know how you get on in the comments below!