Knowledge Of Trombone

Trombone History

Trombones have been around for over 600 years. The original design of the trombone came from an Old English instrument called the sackbut. The word sackbut probably came from the French words saquer, meaning to pull, and bouter, meaning to push.  The Italian word for sackbut is the word trompone so that's were we probably got the word. In the beginning there were four different kinds of trombones used. There was a soprano, an alto, a tenor and a bass. Today the symphony orchestra usually has two tenors and one bass trombone.

The trombone is the only modern orchestral brass instrument that could play all the notes of the chromatic scale from the beginning. But they weren't in early orchestras. Composers thought they were only for solemn music. When composers write music for the trombone they usually write it for three trombones to play at a time and they usually play the harmony.

At one time in the 19th century trombones had valves like other brass instruments. But that style didn't last. The trombone sounds as written which are different from other brass instruments? This is true because it sounds the note as written in the music. It is the brass instrument that uses the glissando the most. It is a long brass tube that is folded back on itself sort of like a paper clip. The mouthpiece of a trombone is pretty large and is cup-shaped. You play the trombone by sliding tubing back and forth to make the tube longer or shorter. This changes the sound.

A trombone has seven positions. To make other pitches the player changes his lip shape. When he squeezes or loosens his lips this changes the sound. A trombone can also do a glissando, which is where the player goes up to a note or down from a note, playing all the notes in between by just moving the slide.

How The Trombone Works

.Parts and Sound

The trombone is an instrument made up of a mouthpiece, brass tubing, two slides and a bell. This instrument is part of the brass family, meaning it is a type of aerophone (an instrument played by the use of vibrations). Sound is produced when the player's vibrating lips cause the air in the tubing of the instrument to vibrate. This instrument produces sound with the help of three parts: the slide, the bell and your mouth (the embouchure).


Your lips form an embouchure, a shape which works with the mouthpiece. To make a higher pitched musical note, roll your lips under so that they are touching each other. To make a lower pitched note, form your lips into a pouting shape. These positions, along with air pressure, cause the lips to vibrate. The vibration is amplified through the tubing of the instrument. It is then projected out the bell to make sounds. The correct embouchure allows you to play the full range of notes without hurting or straining your muscles.

The Slide

The slides of the trombone change the pitch. The main slide is a stationary long brass tube that encases the second slide. The second slide is a brass handle you extend down the main slide to change the pitch of the sound. The longer you extend the slide, the lower the pitch will be. There are seven positions at intervals along the slide. The first interval is located closest to the mouthpiece, and the last is towards the end of the slide. The reason this works is because you are extending the distance the vibrations must travel through the tubing to get to the bell, and this distance changes the pitch.


The structure of the brass instrument works together with your body to produce sounds. The instrument's functionality stems all the way from the cup-like mouthpiece, through the tubing and to the rounded bell. All it needs is the muscles of your lips, vibrations of air and the movement of the slide to produce music.

Trombone Part Names

Trombone Buying Guide


Things You'll Need:
Music Stands
Trombone Cases
Trombone Mouthpieces
Sheet Music
The Trombone Album CD

Determine how much money you want to invest in a trombone. Use the age and maturity of the student as a guideline.

Include in your calculation a well-braced trombone case of wood or metal with plenty of internal protective padding. Avoid a leather case at this point.

Examine the trombone's tone quality while using your own mouthpiece. This characteristic is the prime attribute of any instrument.

Realize the influence of bore size and bore type on the tone produced by the instrument. The bore is the inside diameter of the instrument tubing.

Understand that a large-bore instrument requires good breath support on the part of the musician. A large-bore trombone will usually produce a "big," "rich," and "fat" tone or resonance. Openness and ease would characterize the nature of this sound.

Understand that a small-bore trombone may be easier to blow, but the sound produced can be "thin" and "shallow," almost constricted. A good tone should be "free" and "clear," not "squeezed" or "pinched." Small-bore instruments have a very "sharp edge" or "focus" in the tone. Tonal brilliance and penetration are sometimes desired for high range by the lead horn in a big-band jazz ensemble. Taste is the determining factor.

Compare and evaluate the tone of a large- and a small-bore instrument in the music shop. Tone quality and ease of production will be evident to the performer and a listener.

Realize that bell construction and the nature of the bell or "flare" - how large the final opening becomes and how quickly - vary with the manufacturer.

Purchase a case with a key or combination lock-latch to discourage those eager to experiment with a friend's instrument.

Learn To Play

The trombone has a very sonorous sound. The instrument was assigned to play thrilling countermelodies in the marches of John Philip Sousa. Four or five trombones are used in the low brass section of Big Band jazz ensembles.

Locate a music stand and an area where practice will be uninterrupted and not bother the family.

Pretend that you have a small piece of paper on the end of your tongue. Now spit it off. Let the air continue through your lips.

Do the same things again, keeping your lips close together; produce a long "buzz."

Take the trombone's mouthpiece by the tube. Put the larger end in the center of your closed lips. Center your lips both vertically and horizontally.

Do the "spit-buzz" exercise into the mouthpiece. Sustain the "buzz" for 3 seconds.

Assemble the slide and bell portion of the trombone so that the two parts have an L-shaped, 90-degree relationship.

Hold the trombone with your left hand bearing most of the weight of the instrument.

Place the small end of the mouthpiece into the lead pipe of the slide section with a very light twisting motion.

Produce long and steady tones using the "spit-buzz" exercise.

How To Take Care Of The Trombone

To keep your trombone in the best condition, please follow these suggestions:


Always consult your teacher if you are not sure how to put together your instrument.
NEVER force the parts of your instrument together.

Always lock the slide when you are assembling or not playing your instrument.
Assemble your trombone so the bell is over your left shoulder. With their teacher’s close supervision, young children should make sure that the hand slide is a comfortable distance from the bell brace for the left hand position.

Make sure that you tighten the bell to hand slide fastening nut until it is snug and secure without over tightening.

Hand-Slide Oil Application

Always consult your teacher if you are not sure how to apply hand-slide oil.
You should apply hand-slide oil to your instrument at least once a week. To apply, put the hand slide in approximately third position and apply a generous amount of oil to each slide. Your teacher dents in your mouthpiece you should immediately take it to a technician for repair and this can instruct you on how to determine the amount of oil that is needed.

Tuning Slide Grease Application

Always consult your teacher if you are not sure how to apply tuning slide grease.
You should grease your slide as needed according to your teacher’s instruction.
Remove slide and wipe off the old grease.

Apply a bit of grease to one end of one of the slide tubes and re-insert this side. Gently rotate the slide as it is pushed in, evenly distributing the grease to all parts of the slide.
Repeat this process with the other end of the slide tube.

When completed, insert the slide as normal and remove all excess grease. NEVER use Vaseline in place of slide grease. This will corrode your trombone.

A properly set tuning slide will slide in just by pushing on the outer edge of the crook. If you need to manipulate the slide to push it in it should be repaired.


Your mouthpiece should not have any dents in the end of the shank. If you notice any
You should move and grease the tuning slide at least once a month and oil the hand slide atwill cause the parts of your trombone to stick. If they do stick take it to a technician immediately for removal. NEVER try to remove stuck parts with pliers or hammers!

Wipe off your fingerprints from your trombone after every use. A clean, non-treated cotton cloth will work the best. If you do choose to use a treated polishing cloth be sure that it is for the proper finish. Using the wrong cloth could cause scratches.

Always store your instrument in its case with the lid closed when not in use. This will prevent any excess tarnishing and lower the risk of damage.

Do not put anything (including sheet music) inside the case with your instrument that does not belong. Closing the case with extra contents can cause damage to the valves or dents. Also, make sure that all the latches are securely closed before transporting your instrument. least once a week (or more frequently if needed). DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE MOUTHPIECE OR SLIDES IF THEY BECOME STUCK. A lack of oil and grease

Maintenance & Cleaning

Cleaning your trombone is a necessity if you want to avoid expensive repairs later in the instrument's life. There are many different aspects to cleaning a trombone, from the easiest daily rituals to a less frequent deep cleaning.

Daily Trombone Cleaning and Maintenance:
Each day before you play your trombone, you should take the mouthpiece over to a sink and scrub it out using an inexpensive mouthpiece brush. A clean mouthpiece feels better and plays better than one with dried saliva and half-chewed food pieces sticking to it. Clean the mouthpiece with the brush and warm water then either dry with a paper towel or allow it to air dry.

After you are done rehearsing for the day you can clean out your slide with a trombone cleaning rod and an old thin piece of flannel. Intermediate and professional trombones often come with these cleaning rods included. Beginner model trombones usually do not. Again, ask your local music store to see if you can order one and then have them show you how to use it properly. Please note that cleaning rods are different than the cleaning snakes discussed later in this article.

Weekly Trombone Cleaning and Maintenance:
Once each week you may wish to pour some warm water through the slides to flush out any acidic liquids and saliva that can literally eat through the metal of your trombone. Another great and fun alternative is the use of a “Spitball,” a commercial product that is blown through the slide and attempts to clean the worst of the residue.

Bi-Weekly Trombone Cleaning and Maintenance:
Every few weeks it is a good idea to give your new trombone a good thorough cleaning by totally submersing it in water and scrubbing the inside of the tubes with a trombone cleaning snake. Fill your bathtub with luke-warm soapy water (use a mild dish soap like Dawn) and let the trombone soak in the tub for about ten minutes. Make sure the water is NOT HOT! Hot water in some cases can literally melt the lacquer finish off of a brass instrument. After the horn has soaked briefly take a cleaning snake (available at your music store) and scrub the inside of the instrument all the way through the curves in the slides. Remove the outer slide and scrub it separately from the inner slide. Rinse the entire horn in clean cool water and towel dry the outside of the trombone. Do not put the trombone in its case until the inside of the slides have had a chance to air dry.

With a little easy cleaning and preventative maintenance your trombone will play great and look great for years to come!