How to play trombone

At Warwick Music we believe everyone should have the opportunity to make music. That’s why we’ve put together this page of resources to help any beginner start learning to play trombone and experience the transformational power of music.


In this beginner guide for those starting their trombone playing journey we kick off with a blog article written by our very own Warwick Music Group Mum Kate, whose son has started learning the trombone - she’s got some great tips learnt from first-hand experience.

We’ll share some fundamentals about how a trombone works and the different types of trombones, then we’ll delve into some practical lessons to get you started. We’ll conclude with access to some really useful initial resources like trombone slide position charts, free resources including sheet music and backing tracks and a series of easy to follow video lessons.

How to play the trombone; starting your child's musical journey

By our very own Warwick Music Mum, Kate Greenall

With two musical parents, Ralph was exposed to music making at a very young age and his parents always hoped that he would want to learn to play an instrument himself one day.

His mum, Kate, shares with us how he chose the trombone and started learning how to play…

Read the blog

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What is a trombone?

The trombone is an old and important member of the brass instrument family. The trombone has been around in some form since the 1500s, developed from early trombones it was originally known as a sackbut.

By far the most common type of trombone is the modern Bb tenor trombone. This instrument was first produced about a 1700 and apart from bore and bell size hasn’t really changed that much since.

Nearly every trombone player begins their journey on a Bb tenor trombone. The tenor trombone can be found playing in a whole host of different musical styles and ensembles including classical, jazz, rock, pop and folk music.

How does it work?

types of trombones

Types of Trombones

As well as the Bb tenor trombone the broader trombone family is much larger than you might at first realise, with instruments of all sizes and some specialised for specific genres.

The Trombone section
Trombones and their players are known for their gregarious nature and are usually found in sections! In most bands this will take the form of two tenors and a bass trombone and in a jazz genre...

Types of Trombones

How to play trombone

Breathing

Your first step when learning how to play trombone. This is the heart and soul of trombone playing. Take a relaxed deep breath and blow out through your lips.

how to play trombone Breathing
how to play trombone Buzz & Play

Buzz & Play

With the mouthpiece in the middle of your lips, create a hole in your lips and blow air through it. If you slowly make the hole smaller as you blow the buzz will begin! Add the mouthpiece to pBone and repeat the process to make your first sounds.

Hand position

Here is the classic trombone hand position.

how to play trombone Hand position

Music Basic Terminology

Pitch: How high or low a sound is. Usually shown as a letter: A-G and by where the written note is placed: higher or lower on the music stave or staff.

Duration: How long or short a sound is. Measured in beats and shown by the shape of a written note.

Beat: How to measure and describe the passing of time in music, the heartbeat or pulse of the music, what you tap your toe, march or dance to. Measured in beats per minute (BPM) or expressed in an Italian term such as, Presto (fast), Andante (walking pace) or Largo (slow).

Stave or Staff: the familiar horizontal lines that written music is placed on. Think of this like a ladder: the higher the note has climbed the higher the pitch it represents.

Clef: A symbol at the beginning of the music that tells us which pitch belongs on which line of the staff or stave. On trombone we use the treble or G clef which means the second line is where the note G lives.

Bars and bar lines: Vertical lines on the staff or stave, bar lines help us organise time by dividing the horizontal format of the music into bars.

Time signatures: These numbers at the beginning of a piece of music tell us how many beats in each bar (top number) and what type of note each beat is made from (bottom number). i.e. 44 – four crotchet beats per bar.

Time to Tune

You’re going to want to tune your instrument before we start with playing notes and scales. You can use this great app to help you tune your trombone.

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Learn to play Liam Kirkman …

Learn how to play trombone with Liam Kirkman, the former president of the British Trombone Society. Everything from playing your first trombone notes through to trombone slide positions and finger charts in a series of easy to follow video lessons.

Learn to play

Finding music lessons

There are a lot of opinions, information and videos on the web about learning a musical instrument. That’s because finding a great, instrumental teacher to guide, inspire and lead your child is one of the most important aspects in helping them develop as a musician.

Find music lessons

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Free Trombone Resources

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Learn to play pBone mini (Treble Clef Edition)

Treble Clef Edition PDF: Everything you need to get playing on your pBone mini. Check out the videos and backing tracks listed below to help you on your way!

Download

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Learn to play pBone mini (Bass Clef Edition)

Bass Clef Edition PDF: Everything you need to get playing on your pBone mini. Check out the videos and backing tracks listed below to help you on your way!

Download

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Quick Start Guide for pBone

A quick and simple guide to get you started on pBone with backing tracks

Download

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Nightingale: Easy Jazzy ‘Tudes (tbn treble clef)

OUR NUMBER ONE BEST SELLER JUST GOT BETTER!
Easy Jazzy ‘Tudes is now available with professionally recorded backing tracks that enhance your playing experience. Each copy now comes with its own CD, but don’t worry if you already own a copy because you can download the backing track individually from iTunes.

Download

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Trombone Trio: Easy Jazzy Trios (treble clef)

Simple trio arrangements of Mark Nightingale’s popular Easy Jazzy Tudes

Download

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Trombone Duet: A Knight’s Tale

Two short duets ideal for beginner brass group from Jeremy Dibb’s A Knight’s Tale

Download

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Trombone: Simplest Route to the Tenor Clef

Exercise 1 from Steve Thompson’s A Simplest Route to the Tenor Clef based on Frere Jacques

Download

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Trombone: Jazz@Etudes (treble clef)

Two simple studies especially for Treble Clef trombonists

Download

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Learn to play trombone video playlist

Watch these different videos with all you need to know to make a buzz on a brass instrument

Videos