Musical Instruments


The Brass Family

Conn Trombone (UMI) Trombones are usually made of brass or other metal, and usually silver-plated or lacquered. Today, trombones are played in concert and marching bands, orchestras, jazz bands, brass ensembles, and popular music.

On a trombone, the sound is made by the buzzing the player's lips. The mouthpiece helps the sound become clearer. The rest of the trombone makes the sound louder. The trombone has no valves; it has a slide. The slide is a small tube which fits into a bigger tube. When the slide is pulled out, the sound is lower. When the slide is all the way in, the sound is higher.


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Conn Trombone with F attachment (UMI) The trombone is unique because it is the only modern instrument that uses a slide. The trombone's ancestor is the tromba, a long trumpet of the Middle Ages. In Italian, the word trombone means large tromba. An English ancestor of the trombone was the sackbut, a type of slide instrument.

The trombone of today is basically the same as it was when it appeared in 1450. By 1500, Nuremberg, Germany was the center of trombone making. Since the trombone was the only brass isntrument of the time that could play any note of the scale, composers gradually found it to be a very useful instrument.

Trombone (LA Horns)At first, the trombone was played primarily in town concert bands and used in church to accompany singing. By the 1700's the trombones were added to military bands. Mozart and other great classical composers wrote for the trombone in operas and sacred works. Finally, by 1850, trombones were regular members of the symphony orchestra. Parts were written for alto, tenor, and bass trombone. The addition of the valve attachement to the trombone in the early 1900's allowed the lower notes to be played more easily.


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King Bass Trombone (UMI)

Before you play

: There is very little to assemble on a trombone. Place the mouthpiece into the lead pipe with a gently twisting motion. Do not hit or pop the mouthpiece into place. When attaching the slide to the bell section, make sure you don't move the bell section too close to the slide. you need room for your hand tomove and to prevent the bell from hitting the slide, which can result in a dent. Always leave the slide locked when you put your horn down or in your case.

Proper cleaning and lubrication of the main slide is essential to the playing of the trombone. Each time you play, clean the slides and apply either slide oil or slide cream to each of the slide tubes. Reapply as needed during your practice or rehearsal.

Bach Valve Trombone (Selmer)

Tuning & Playing

: To lower the pitch of the trombone, lengthen the instrument by pulling the main tuning slide out. To raise the pitch, push the main tuning slide in. Individual notes on the trombone can be tuned using quick adjustments on the main slide.

If your mouthpiece gets stuck while playing, do not attempt to remove it yourself or have anyone yank it out for you. Forcibly removing it can break the braces on the trombone. Your teacher will have a special tool to safely remove the mouthpiece.


: Once a week clean the mouthpiece with warm water and a mouthpiece brush. Once a month, give your trombone a bath. Take the trombone completely apart and run a snake brush or cleaning rod through the instrument with warm soapy water (hot water may damage the finish). Put the trombone back together. Lubricate the main slide and grease the tuning slide.

Note: This information is meant as a guide and provides only a short summary of the steps required to keep your instrument in good shape. Please ask your teacher for more information.

Related Links:

Online Trombone Journal
  A free Internet resource for and by trombonists.
Douglas Yeo Trombone Web Site
  includes articles, teaching resources, literature recommendations, photos, links to other music sites, FAQ, and more.
Trombone sites at Yahoo!
Trombone sites at Looksmart

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