hold your trombone

Hold your trombone like you are serious about playing

Holding your instrument correctly every time you play sets you up to play at your very best. It allows good airflow, posture and placement of the instrument on the lips. And most importantly, it allows you to operate the slide freely. Learn how to hold your trombone correctly to set you up for being able to play at your best.

How to hold your trombone

Trombone players should take the weight of the instrument in their left hand. Leave the right hand to freely move the slide.

The left hand should form an “L” or a gun that is pointing upwards. 

Keep the upwards gun shape when you hold the trombone with your left hand.  Position the trombone in your left hand as in the photo.

left hand position

Place your index finger on the lead-pipe. Your thumb should be on the bell-section crossbar and the other 3 fingers curl around the slide-section crossbar.

The right hand should loosely grip the slide between the tips of the thumb and top 2 fingers allowing a relaxed wrist to produce a smooth and agile slide motion. 

Hang your other 2 fingers below the slide.

how to hold your trombone

Important right-hand DON’Ts for trombonists:

1. Don’t touch the bell while playing
2. Don’t hold the slide tightly with a claw-like grip
3. Don’t transfer slide motion to your head – move the slide smoothly using wrist & fingers

Tip:  Keep the right wrist loose so it freely bends to operate the slide. You’ll be able to move the slide faster and more fluidly if your wrist does most of the work rather than the elbow. When pushing the slide out, let your fingers catch the slide allowing the thumb to release off the slide. If you try to always keep your thumb on the slide, your fingers won’t be able to extend to their full length and it will force you to use your elbow too much.  
not holding your trombone

A smooth slide action

Developing a smooth slide action is the mark of an accomplished trombone player. Jerky movements will result in a jerky sound.

To create a smooth slide action, try the following tips.

When extending the slide towards 7th position, the thumb will leave the slide with only the 2 fingers controlling the slide. 

For players with shorter arms, get extra length by extending the right shoulder forward and turning the head to the right side while playing.

This action will extend the reach of the arm by several centimeters allowing the slide to extend further than usual.

Slide Positions

Master your slide positions. Many notes can be played using alternate slide positions. The higher the note, the more alternate positions are likely to be available to produce that note. Alternate positions become very useful when playing high and fast passages smoothly.

Listen to Bill Watrous make extensive use of alternate slide positions in this legendary trombone solo.

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