Dr. Deb Scott

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Trombone Tone Production

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


Concept of Sound

  • Before a student tries to play a sound on a horn, he/she should know what sound he/she is trying to make. 
  • There is no substitute for a concept of sound; it is the most important aspect of tone production.
  • Perform and demonstrate often if at all possible!
  • Bring in clinicians, private lesson teachers
  • Play recordings:
    • Lindberg, Christian -- Bis 378 David, Grondahl, Guilmant
    • Conant, Abbie -- Audite 97410 Guilmant, Marcello, Handel
    • Bousfield, Ian -- Doyen 014 Blue Bells of Scotland

Breathing/Breath Support

  • This is one of the most important aspects of performing on any brass instrument. 
  • "Sustain the beautiful music from below the rib cage with no conscious muscle involvement on the intake or the blow." (Buddy Baker)
  • Student should sit gently tall (relaxed).  The spine should be straight. ( Do not curve the lower back.)
  • Intake
    • Think the syllable "HAW" on the inhale.
    • Air should fill the lower abdominal muscles first (below the belt line) -- then to the middle -- finally to the upper chest. 
    • There should be no gasping or wheezing sounds.  Stay relaxed.
  • Exhale
    • Use the syllable "POO" (after the embouchure is set, use "TOO").
    • Support the sound.  Use the air first from the lower abdominal muscles -- then the middle -- and finally the upper (if needed.)
    • The inhale and exhale should be one continuous smooth, relaxed motion. 
    • There should be a visible movement of the lower abdomen during this process.

Embouchure Formation

  • Use the student's natural lip formation, a natural "facial mask."
  • Bring the jaw forward slightly.
  • Upper lips and cheeks "gently hug" the teeth and gums so air can come through the center of the lips ONLY -- no air puffs. (Buddy Baker)
  • Flat chin.
  • I prefer a wet embouchure.
  • Teeth slightly apart.
  • Use "POO" so that the lips are slightly pursed.
  • Gently firm corners (not pulled back, i.e. smiling)
  • Most relaxed part of embouchure is the aperture (the center of the lips).

Combining Breathing and Breath Support and Embouchure

  • Use the syllable "TOO."
  • Hold a piece of paper in front of the air stream for a visual reinforcement.
  • Watch for "smiling", puffed cheeks, bad habits, etc.

Mouthpiece Placement

  • Hold the mouthpiece by the shank with two fingers and a thumb.
  • The mouthpiece should be positioned with more of it on the upper lip than the lower.
  • The vertical placement is more important than the horizontal.  (Some players perform off center because of dental structure.)
  • Practice placing the mouthpiece.

Creating Sound

  • Start with the mouthpiece by itself.  Place it gently on the embouchure and blow "TOO."  Remember to constantly reinforce proper breath techniques and embouchure formation, constantly correcting bad habits.
  • Some may have trouble producing a sound; keep trying.  It may help to partially cover the end of the shank with the "pinkie" to create more resistance.


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