Dr. Deb Scott

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Trombone Practicing and Auditioning

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


At an audition, judges are looking for someone with:

  • A good characteristic sound
  • Correct Technique: rhythm, pitches, articulations, alternate positions
  • Good intonation
  • A reasonable tempo
  • AND with good musicianship/interpretation (dynamics within dynamics, rubato tempo)

Concept of Sound:

  • Listen to numerous recordings of trombonists such as Joseph Alessi or Christian Lindberg.
  • Attend trombone solo recitals at your closest university or college.
  • Take private lessons or attend master classes.


    1. Look up all definitions and markings on the music, such as Largo cantabile or rin ƒ. Pencil in the translations.

    2. Get a better understanding of the task ahead of you by sight reading the piece to the best of your ability. (Play it at a tempo that allows you to play approx. 80% of it correctly.)

    3. Find appropriate alternate positions and breath marks. Write them in. (Make changes as needed as you learn to play the piece better.)

    4. Play it again with a metronome set very slowly, (at a tempo where you play approx. 90% of it correctly.) Identify the measures where your mistakes are. Bracket each immediately.

    5. Play the metronome game for each set of brackets:

      a.) Set the metronome incredibly slow (maybe even a sub-subdivision). This should be the fastest tempo that allows you to play the bracketed measure(s) correctly. Play the brackets at this tempo ten times in a row without a mistake. (Keep track of your tempos by lightly penciling them in above troubled area.)

      b.) Set the metronome up one notch (2-4 beats) and play the bracketed measures 5 times in a row without a mistake.

      c.) Repeat the process until you are up to tempo with step 2. If you make a mistake, lower the metronome a notch and try again.

    6. Play the entire piece again at a slightly increased tempo from step 4. Repeat steps 4 through 6 until the piece is up to tempo.

Develop your concept of musicality. It is like learning a new language. Listen to high quality musicians in any instrument, orchestra, etc. (Yo Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis)

  • Decide what are the musical directives on the page that should be noted or exaggerated? (Dynamics, tempo changes, articulations)
  • Decide what is the character/style of this piece? Happy, sad, fun, etc.
  • Write a plot, story-line for the music.
  • Decide what is not on the page that I can add? (Dynamics within the written dynamics, slight or dramatic tempo changes within the realm of good taste.)


The Texas School Music Project is a source for ideas and information concerning pedagogical practices in the music classroom or rehearsal hall.
The TSMP is a service provided to all music specialists by the faculty of the School of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University.

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