Master Class Handout



We don't yet do lessons on line!

It is possible, however, to portray some of my core concepts and ideas in these pages. I hope that they can help you take a refreshing look at your own playing.

Specific ideas and techniques on playing the trombone are best communicated in person, working one-on-one, playing with and for each other, and trying to define, capture and cultivate sometimes-elusive concepts. That is why our instrumental education process is built upon the weekly one-on-one lesson. If it were possible to write a chapter or two on just how to perfectly operate the trombone, I would have done it long ago and had it patented. In reality, each student approaches the task with a unique combination of desires and concepts, strengths and, yes, also shortcomings.

This master class handout has evolved to include many of my playing and teaching ideas. Contained in these pages are many of the phrases and concepts that I repeat to myself when practicing and to others when teaching. 

By design, a master class handout is made for use in a master class. Simply reading the headings and suggestions below on your own could lead to questions ? or even misinterpretation. By nature, many of the remarks below seem to be mere cliche. I make them available here for practical reasons, but also in the hope of spurring readers to maybe look at their playing in a new or fresher perspective. Please feel free to contact me with questions on these concepts. My answers to such questions are already resulting in links to more detailed explanations.

Please remember, however: that no amount of verbalized information or theorizing will ever replace one-on-one lessons with a qualified, master teacher.

Keeping that in mind.....



                      Master Class with Carl Lenthe
                                                      Indiana University

Jacobs School of Music, MA315
                                                                              Bloomington, Indiana 47405
                                                                                                (812) 855-2828


       Cultivate a positive, constructive manner 
       Don't get down on yourself for not being somewhere you aren't
       Better: recognize where you are and what it will take to get where you
                want to be

Play Something

       Songs, songs, songs
       Improvise - noodle around
       Play by ear (get what you hear out of the trombone)

Make Music

       I) Make music with others - that's what its all about!

              Find a duet buddy, start a trio or quartet
              Don't play only with brass players
              Learn to play other instruments to whatever degree possible

       II) Improve your musical understanding

              Cultivate and improve your understanding of the different styles 
              Metrical, rhythmical structures (dance steps) 
              Harmonic, melodic relationships
              Learn about non-brass instruments

       III) The world is a stage; be creative

              Be theatrical; from articulation to character portrayal 
              Make words from syllables, sentences from notes and phrases
              Build paragraphs and chapters
              Make story lines, create narratives
              Timing, charisma, personality, temperament, charm, panache, Úlan, 
                     flamboyance, flair, passion (add more of your own?) 
              Play the role, even if it isn't "you"

Concepts and techniques

       I) General practice tips and ideas

              Pull your results out of bell instead of pushing them into the mouthpiece
              Scales, scales, scales 
              Arpeggios, arpeggios, arpeggios
              Play technique musically - make exercises out of your musical passages
              Etudes, the missing link 
              Go to your range and dynamic extremes regularly - blow freely
              Buzz on the mouthpiece sometimes (nice, healthy buzz - blow freely)
              Play the "air trombone" (mouthpiece in left hand - right hand plays the air slide
              Slur through the phrase to recognize air and phrase flow 
              Blow through the phrases
              Practice slow things fast (you already practice fast things slowly, right?)
              Don't abort the breath because of a miss - don't make two mistakes out of one

       II) Basic blowing

              Breathe quietly 
              Breathe relaxation, not tension 
              Breathing should be quiet, free and natural 
              Breathing exercises
              "Hot potato" 
              Breathe from the lips
              Posture affects breathing 
              Bring the horn to you, don't you go to the horn
              Music breathes - breathe musically 
              Make a musical virtue out of the necessity of breathing, 

              Blow freely - don't fight yourself
              Flow & Focus (and other f-words)
              Let go and blow 
              Back off - don't force
              Let go of the lips. Blow freely. Stop the squeeze
              Should ideally feel whole face vibrate
              Blow a nice full and free flow and focus of air
              Low register (also valveless notes) can help breathing and blowing
              Focus the tones with the air
              Think of the "lip slurs" as blowing exercises (Flow & Focus)

       III) Tone

              Don't be monotonous (mono-tone-ous)
              Be able to speak in many tones, colors and shadings of voice
              Your tone is your calling card
              Listeners don't know what is difficult - but they know what
                   sounds good

              Vocal approach:
              Don't try to sound like a bass in the tenor register
              The Tone of intonation - sharp/flat vs. high/low
              Place the tones vocally; don't squeeze them around
              Place the tones in a resonant, vocal manner
              Hit the notes clearly and let them ring
              Nice and easy

       III) Articulation

              Be an articulate musician
              How many sentences can you speak with only two consonants?
              Play as if giving dictation - Play deliberately
              Articulation - develop good multiple tonguing before you need it and 
                     beyond your needs
              A slow tongue squeezes the preceding note while getting ready to 
                     strike the next
              "Stay on the string" (tenuto)
              Resonant staccato, like a pizzicato walking bass
              The tongue articulates the air (tone) column - it doesn't break it
              Tongueless slurring

       IV) Hearing

              Hear better, internalize notes and intervals - sing
              Conceptualize - sing
              Work on hearing - sing the notes and phrases.
              Sing for intonation purposes and to avoid mechanical dependency
              Hear the notes and harmonies
              Holding points for the ears - half, whole steps, sequences, etc.
              Find "interval tags" 
              The Drone --- Use a tuning machine that gives all pitches (anchor notes)
              Sight-read and transpose

       V) Right hand and arm (slide technique):

              Throw and catch the slide (please don't forget to catch)
              Toss the slide, toss the slurs, toss the air - even in slow connections
              Slide vibrato (not elbow vibrato) - will illuminate right hand and arm use

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