Dr. Deb Scott

Return to Tips for Trombone

Trombone Basics

by Dr. Deb Scott
Assistant Professor of Music
SFA School of Music
[email protected]


Assembling the Trombone
Holding the Trombone
Equipment in Case
Caring for the Slide (weekly)
Cleaning the Trombone (annually)

Assembling the Trombone

  • Place the case on the floor in front of the student.  (Youngsters will inevitably knock over a case that is on a chair -- probably with the instrument in it!)
  • Pick up the slide section first.  Hold in left hand.
  • Gently place the bell section on the slide and bring to proper width from slide -- carefully!  Many slide dents are caused by a bell section that is not properly attached.
  • Screw the two sections together.   I recommend screwing backwards until a "pop" is heard so that the threads are aligned properly. This will prevent a "floppy" bell section later.
  • Gently set the mouthpiece into the slide section and turn until it is secure.

Holding the Trombone

  • Left Hand -- Make a "gun" with the left hand.  Index finger should rest over the top of the trombone.  Thumb should rest over the brace of the bell.  The other fingers should grasp the first brace of the slide.  Support the entire weight of the trombone with the left hand.
  • Right Hand -- Hold the bottom of the brace of the slide with two fingers and a thumb.  The third and fourth fingers should rest gently on the underside of the slide.  Make sure that the palm faces in.
  • Elbows should be held out slightly away from the body.
  • The trombone will probably have a slight downward angle.
  • Do not lean the head off to one side.

Equipment in Case

  • Water (spray) bottle
  • Slide-O-Mix
  • Paper towels
  • Mouthpiece brush
  • A "Snake" -- a long flexible cleaning brush
  • Lanolin or tuning slide grease
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste (for brushing teeth after meals)
  • If F-attachment: 1 small screwdriver, extra rotary valve string, rotary valve oil

Caring for the Slide (weekly)

  • Remove the slide from the bell section when cleaning.
  • Carefully remove the outer slide.
  • Wipe off each inner slide using a paper towel.  Hold each inner slide by the top of the side you are cleaning. This will help prevent misalignment.
  • Apply a few drops of the small bottle of Slide-O-Mix to the bottom of each inner slide.
  • Carefully replace the outer slide and move back and forth a few times.
  • Apply the large bottle of Slide-O-Mix to the top of the inner slide and move slide back and forth.
  • Spray entire inner slide with water liberally.
  • If slide becomes sticky over the course of the week, apply more water or repeat the entire process.
  • Repeat as needed, usually not more than every other week.

Cleaning the Trombone (annually)

Remember that bacteria can live in the gunk inside a horn and cause illness!

  • The slide section (inner and outer) should be cleaned with dishwasher soap, lukewarm water not hot, and a snake.  This can be done carefully in a bathtub, shower, or with a garden hose outside.
  • The interior tuning slides can be cleaned with Brasso.  (NOT THE LACQUERED PART)
  • The bell section can be cleaned like the slide section.  (The snake can be used on the smaller tubing.)
  • The mouthpiece can also be cleaned with soap and lukewarm water using a mouthpiece brush.  This should be done frequently.


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