What Are the Different Types of Trombone Gigs?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud
Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

The trombone is a brass horn instrument used in an array of different music. Musicians that play the trombone as a full or part-time job often play with multiple groups to gain income to support their lifestyles. Trombone gigs can come in all musical styles in various musical outlets or venues. Some of the most consistent gigs for trombone players come in big band music, ska bands, and recording studios.

Trombone gigs often come via big band or swing bands. Big band music is driven by a horn section that can contain one or more saxophones, trombones, and trumpets. These groups have multiple horn players and hire trombonists full or part time. While big band music has roots in jazz, it tends to be known for its high energy and swinging beats. As these bands are large in size, compensation per musician tends to be low.

Jazz combo gigs are an offshoot of big band gigs with fewer members and a more tranquil style. These combos commonly feature a horn player, sometimes yielding a gig for a trombonist. While big band music tends to be structured, jazz combos are improvised. Trombonists in these jazz combos may play multiple instruments to change up the sound. As the fee is split among fewer band members, these tend to be better-paying gigs.

Ska bands are a happy intersection between big band, reggae, and rock 'n' roll music. A trombone player is almost always involved in a ska band. These are fun, high-impact trombone gigs, with dancing and prominent horn lines. Income for the average ska band is generally quite low per performance.

Few ska bands are able to make a full-time living due to the size of the band and their relevance in mainstream music. Those bands that make their incomes from music tour relentlessly and have strong followings in multiple cities. A few noteworthy names include Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, all of which have one or more trombone players touring with them. These trombonists are able to functionally support themselves when the band is active.

Studio work is available as another form of trombone gigs. Trombonists who get paid to record are called session players. They are hired to play on other people's recordings, usually for financial compensation. Studio trombonists are highly talented musicians with great connections. These can be some of the easier and better-paying trombone gigs.

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