Slip Sliding Away: Decoding the Mystery of Trombone Legato
Presented by: Dr. Alexandra Zacharella
As a Trombone major I thought that going to a trombone clinic would be good. When I first went I wasn’t expecting to learn about giving private lessons on the trombone and trombone history, but I did. The information was presented into 8 sections: Warming up, Lip slur concepts, books of study, Overtones, execution of legato, practicing legato, Lyrical Studies, and practice order.
In warming up, Long tones were talked about. Long tones are one of the most important tools in warming up for several reasons; they help establish the sensation of lip vibration, and establishes a connection between your brain and lips. To maximize the effectiveness of long tones the student should focus on making long clear tones without any pitch bending. As your student becomes more advanced make them sustain the notes even longer.
Lip Slurs are another fundamental warm up skill; they help players build flexibility in their range. Beginning players tend to have a space between their notes. To fix the spaces just make the students try it slower or start in a more comfortable range. Start Lip slurs tongued, but then listen for smooth connected strains. Also as the student becomes comfortable with one style of lips slur patterns change it up with different speeds, ranges, and note patterns.
Four books that are suggested to look at for beginning trombone players are The Remington Warm-ups studies, Basic routines for Trombone, A ‘singing’ approach to the Trombone, and Daily Drills and Technical Studies for the Trombone.
On the trombone the Overtone series affects the positions. What I mean by that is as you change partials the positions on a trombone change slightly. As you go higher on the trombone the slide position become closer and closer. For exact position please e-mail me and I can send you a chart.
For Trombone legato you want to use as little tongue as possible. Strive to use lips slurs as much as possible, but in the event that you are playing notes in the same partial use a legato tonguing of ‘doo’ or ‘loo’ or ‘dah’.
When practicing legato tonguing make sure to practice without using any tongue, the more smearing and glissing the better. Practice the passage with staccato tonguing, than move to using just air with the desired tonguing. Once all that is done approaching the passage with legato tonguing should be easy. When practicing remember to give good support for a warm sound, good posture will aid with this.
A good book that helps with lyrical and legato practice is Melodious Etudes for Trombone Selected from Vocalises of Marco Bordogni by Jonnas Rochut
When working with your student remember to help establish a routine of warming up, and approaching passages correctly. Remember to start with long tones and lip slurs. After the warm up move them onto etudes, then to their works. And as always listening to professional musicians helps to establish what a good sound is supposed to sound like.