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What Should I Expect from Trombone Lessons?

Megan Shoop
Megan Shoop

When beginning trombone lessons, the student should typically have some idea of what he or she can expect from them. Knowing how the lessons should progress can help the student understand how he or she is performing. Trombone lessons should begin with the teacher showing the student how to put the trombone together, how to buzz the mouthpiece, and how to play a few simple notes. From there, the student should learn how to play simple songs, practicing until he or she can play complicated music with ease. A student should also expect the teacher to be respectful, courteous, encouraging, and knowledgeable.

Trombones are brass instruments, meaning they have a cup-shaped mouthpiece that surrounds the mouth. The player must push his or her lips into the mouthpiece and buzz them together to produce sound. This technique should be covered in the first lesson, along with how to assemble and care for one’s trombone. The teacher may show the student how to buzz the mouthpiece before helping him or her assemble the instrument, or the instructor may prefer the student to practice on the mouthpiece after the trombone is put together.

Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

The first lesson should also involve a bit on learning how to use the trombone slide. Trombones don’t have keys, rather the position of the U-shaped slide dictates the notes, sometimes making this instrument difficult to learn. The teacher should show the student the different positions for basic note scales, practicing them a few times so the student can practice them alone at home. This part of the lesson may also include instructions for tuning one’s trombone, which is necessary for producing pleasing music.

Depending on how quickly the student catches on, the teacher may show him or her a simple piece of music in the first lesson, or save it for another lesson. Popular first song choices include “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and “Three Blind Mice.” These songs have repeating note patterns that enable a trombone student to become comfortable playing a small range of notes and note lengths. The teacher may require the student to memorize this music after several trombone lessons.

When the student has attended three to five trombone lessons and learned a few simple songs, most teachers typically give a student slightly more complicated music. This new material may include sharps and flats, shorter notes, and quick note changes. The rest of the lessons should progress in this way, with the teacher giving the student more difficult pieces as he or she becomes comfortable with each new level.

Throughout all trombone lessons, the teacher should treat the student with respect and patience. Effective instructors should never degrade the student or treat him or her with disdain. The teacher should also be encouraging yet firm, making the student realize he or she must work hard to play well, while helping him or her believe that playing well is an achievable possibility.

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