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BB Brass Masterclass: Brett Baker on smoothing over slurring

Tuesday 16 February, 2021

Playing smoothly on the trombone takes a lot of practice. At one extreme, it can be too smeary and lacks precision; at the other, it’s lumpy and disconnected.

Black Dyke Band’s principal trombonist, Brett Baker, a Rath artist and general manager of the Geneva Group, writes exclusively for British Bandsman on the different slurring options open to players of the instrument – and how to sound silky smooth.

 

Slurring on the trombone is a bone of contention. I’m going to talk about the use of natural slurs, soft tonguing and lip slurs. The first area to discuss in this brief explanation is to pinpoint what I mean by a natural slur. You can move upwards through the partials by increasing the air speed and tightening the lips when you do not move the slide or depress the valves.

A natural slur is created when you move up a partial (which is quite straightforward when not moving the slide or pressing down any valves). However, this can become more difficult depending on the interval and slide position you are going from and to simultaneously slurring and moving the slide is a difficult procedure to play in a smooth and lyrical way. (Similarly, this applies to which valves you are pressing down at the time and which valves you are moving to for the next interval).

 

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