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Trombone -- Playing Guides

The following sources are recommended by a professor whose research specialty is the trombone.


Six Superlative Sources

· The Art of Trombone Playing, Edward Kleinhammer, 1963, Summy-Birchard Company, Written by the bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (since retired), this is one of the standard all-around textbooks on trombone playing, with chapters covering selection and care of the instrument, the breath, the embouchure, slide technique, daily exercises, intonation, rhythm, range, etc. The book is 107 pages long, and includes many helpful pictures and diagrams, as well as an anthology of solo and duet literature, graded by difficulty. Although nearly 40 years old, the wisdom and insights about playing concepts are timeless. Certain information pertaining to equipment and literature is dated, but offers good historical perspective anyway. The author's passion for perfection and attention to detail are inspiring for students young and old.

· Mastering the Trombone, Edward Kleinhammer and Douglas Yeo, 1999, EMKO Publications, Also available through Douglas Yeo's Website ( Co-authored by Kleinhammer and Douglas Yeo (bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony), this book is not a remake of Kleinhammer's earlier book, but much more a presentation of that master's teaching concepts as they evolved and were refined in the ensuing 35 years, and as co-presented with one of his many successful students, Douglas Yeo. The concepts on air technique, embouchure, tone quality, legato, musical interpretation, daily exercises, etc., are all presented in an accessible, personal manner. Musical examples abound, and Mr. Yeo contributes an extensive appendix on preparation for and execution of symphonic auditions.

· Trombone Technique, Denis Wick, 1971, Oxford University Press. This excellent textbook, written by the former solo trombonist of the London Symphony Orchestra and a renowned trombone master and pedagogue, is for the serious student of the trombone, but also offers good insights for conductors or composers who encounter the trombone in the course of their work. In the chapter "The Instrument," Wick describes and compares German, American, British and French trombones as well as offering tips on care and maintenance. Further chapters cover topics such as embouchure, warm-up and practice procedures, technical skills from intonation through articulation and pedal notes to trills, vibrato, avant-garde techniques, etc. A history of the trombone in the symphony orchestra as well as tips on teaching methods and an extensive literature anthology help round out this 150-page book in pocket format.

· The Art of Brass Playing, Philip Farkas, 1962, Wind Music, Inc. This book, by renowned solo hornist, horn professor and educator Philip Farkas (1914-92) should be in every brass player's library. Farkas offers a common-sense approach to the subjects of embouchure, mouthpiece placement, articulation, breath control, etc. His practical observations and descriptions make the techniques seem easily accessible, as indeed they should be. The musical insights are born of truly successful professional experience and whet the appetite for Farkas' further musical ideas as presented in "The Art of Musicianship."

· Orchestral Excerpts for Trombone, Vol. 1 and 2, Summit Records DCD 143; Orchestral Excerpts for Bass Trombone, Tenor Tuba, and Bass Trumpet, Summit Records DCD 158; Summit Records ( These CDs feature top performers of the symphonic realm playing and offering spoken commentary on major excerpts from the symphonic literature. The featured artists are Ralph Sauer, solo trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Jeffrey Reynolds, bass trombonist in the same orchestra; and Michael Mulcahy, second trombonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The combined expertise and professional experience collected here are immense, and the choices cover all major audition excerpts and far beyond. Of special interest is Mr. Mulcahy's presentation on the trombonist's "doubling" instruments, bass trumpet and tenor tuba.

· Slide Area. Joe Alessi's web site contains interactive pages, including the "Random Playing Tips" and also the very helpful "Trombonists Forum," which is an exchange room where visitors can discuss various technical and musical issues about the trombone. Alessi will often contribute his perspectives in the discussions, and these are catalogued in topical fashion.

Other Excellent Sources

· Music for Brass. This web site by Canadian trombonist Brad Howland contains helpful articles on breathing, legato, performance anxiety and more.

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