think you'd like to learn the trombone? We tell you the advantages and
pitfalls, where to buy one, how to get lessons, what it will cost -
everything you need to know
Why play an instrument?
What instrument to play
How to buy an instrument
Where to get lessons
How much progress will I make?
Doing your practice
Upgrading your instrument
Finding opportunities to play
Violin & Viola
Trumpet & Cornet
Other brass instruments
Your questions answered
Links to other sites
Cost: from £240 (the lowest price we could find, VAT included)
Best age to start: 11 years upwards
Easy to start? Yes, quite easy
This is one instrument everyone
thinking of taking up an instrument should consider very carefully.
There is a shortage of trombone players at every level all over
the country, from school orchestras right up to the famous music
conservatoires. Good trombonists are like gold-dust - so why not try
and become one?
The Trombone is the larger relative of the trumpet and consists of a
narrow tube of brass folded on itself to save space. The sound comes
out of the flared bell, and is made by blowing a "raspberry"
with your lips into the cup-shaped mouthpiece. In effect, your lips
are vibrating like the reed of a clarinet, and this vibration becomes
musical sound in its passage through the specially-shaped bore of the
trombone. You can obtain a number of different "open" notes
in this way by varying the tension of your lips (try blowing a
raspberry and smiling at the same time), and can then produce the
notes in between by moving the slide, which alters the length of the
tubing, thus making the instrument temporarily a bit longer or
shorter. The slide is unique to the trombone.
You hold the trombone in front of you with the mouthpiece to your
lips (obviously!), the bell directly forward. Your right hand operates
the slide, while the left supports the instrument. A trombone comes
apart into two main pieces, and is carried in a rigid case which is
quite long but not too heavy and offers excellent protection to the
The trombone is an easy instrument to start, and the amount of puff
required is not too great. The real difficulty is having arms long
enough to push the slide out to its furthest positions, so this is not
an instrument for the very young or the very short! Many players begin
at 11 or 12 years old.
The trombone is important to orchestras, wind bands, jazz bands and
brass bands, so bearing in mind the shortage of players this
instrument offers unparalleled opportunities.
There is little to go wrong with a trombone as it has only one moving
part. It is easily dented, of course, and this can be expensive to
repair especially if the damage is so severe the lacquer which
protects the brass surface has to be renewed. The one moving part is
the slide, and this does need very careful handling as if it is bent
or dented the instrument won't work. There is little maintenance to do
on a trombone, but the tuning slide needs to be moved and greased from
time to time, and the slide itself will need dressing frequently with
something - some trombonists use oil, others a little washing-ip
liquid and others plain water from a squeezy bottle. Your teacher will
Trombones are not as cheap as trumpets, but they are fairly
reasonable at about £250 upwards. They are all the same size.
Good makes are Besson, Conn and Yamaha. The normal type of trombone
used by all beginners is called the "tenor" trombone.
Finally, there is a decision to be made about clef. When played in an
orchestra or wind band the trombone's music is written in the bass
clef (same as the left hand of the piano) at the correct pitch. When
played in a brass band its music is written in the treble clef and is
transposed accordingly. You will have to decide, in consultation with
your teacher, which clef you are going to learn. On balance, unless
you are quite sure that you are going to join a brass band, we would
recommend bass clef.
To learn more about the trombone, get "The Rough Guide to the
Trumpet and Trombone" - you can buy it online at a discounted
price by clicking
More advanced trombonists might enjoy
Technique. While it's always best to have a teacher, many people
do try to learn the trombone by themselves.
Tune a Day for Trombone is fairly old and may no longer be the
best tutor book around, but we still think it's particularly suitable
for lone students. It covers the euphonium as well.
If you'd like to listen to the trombone being played fantastically
CD. Or if one trombone is a good thing, think how good
of them must be!
You will find some useful links at
Not too expensive
Easy to start
Not too hard to find a teacher
Opportunities for group music-making are excellent because
there is a nationwide shortage of trombone players
Not particularly prone to damage, but you have to be very
careful of the slide
Easy to transport
Which clef will you learn?
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Copyright © David Bramhall 2005