Search
Pin It
Favorite

The Art of... Slide Trombone 

Q: How many trombone players does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Only one. But he takes an hour deciding which position to use.

Get it? If not, chances are you are not a trombone player. The brass instrument, ubiquitous in summer parade marching bands, attracts a very specific type of musician: funny ones.

"Most trombone players that I've met have a good sense of humor," says trombone teacher Stuart Carter — corny lightbulb jokes notwithstanding, presumably.

Carter, 57, owns and operates Octavemode, a Burlington-based music school that offers a variety of horn lessons both in studio and online via Skype. He started playing at age 5 and began teaching trombone after graduating with a master's degree from the Eastman School of Music in 1982. He says the trombone's unusual design offers students a unique challenge compared to other wind instruments.

"It's a good instrument for a student because it has the slide," he says. "It's a tenor instrument. But it is also very melodic and expressive." He adds that trombone is a utility instrument, too. "It can be used to complement, or for special effects," he continues. "You have to have or develop a good ear to play the trombone."

It also requires precision. There are seven slide positions on a trombone, each of which can produce roughly eight notes — get the joke now? Finding the right position on the slide is of paramount importance. Miss the mark and you'll be off key.

How a player blows into the instrument is also crucial. Carter notes that the ability to do so correctly can reveal the musical talents of a young player.

He adds that the slide lends itself to a variety of articulations unique to the trombone — think swoops and falls in jazz and funk, or shakes and trills in orchestral music.

"The trombone is a great instrument to bring natural musicianship out in a person," he says. "And that makes it a lot of fun to play."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines....

Readers also liked…

camps central

Kingdom Camps

Kingdom Camps

East Burke, VT

Kingdom Camps is a fun, skills-oriented mountain bike camp offering programs for beginners to experts ages 6-15! Small athlete to instructor ratios, our designed practice area, and the Kingdom Trails network in East Burke, VT provide ideal environments for acquiring skills and improving riding ability. Camp sessions cover braking, riding…(more)

other camps » learn more »

The Art Of