The glissando. The best thing about playing the trombone. But did you know you can use glissandi as a means of range extending and reinforcing consistent air flow? Making something super fun, super useful! Descending glissandi between partials give pitch to air flow. Ascending glissandi between partials helps build range.
Using a glissando instead of stopping at specific pitches helps with maintaining a constant airflow, which is one of the keys to range building. A glissando should always start on a solid note and move slowly to the next note. In a warm-up situation, starting on concert b flat or concert f is a good place to begin. It is important to maintain tone integrity during the glissando. The tone should remain constant during the entire glissando, no matter how short or how long. If tone wavers, restart the glissando. When the glissando reaches that wavering or breaking point, retry the glissando, but stop short of the break point and hold that note. Once tone and pitch become stable, finish the glissando. Then redo the exercises until pitch and tone are consistent in all ranges of the instrument.
Below is a glissando warm-up routine for your trombone players. A good warm-up will begin just on the mouthpiece, with buzzing glissandos. It will continue into low tones and on up. Glissando warm-ups are an excellent way to hear your trombonists’ air flow. Are they connecting from note to note? If the glissando stops, you know they aren’t using their air correctly. Glissando = giving pitch to air flow.
Stephanie Williamson is a band director at Clear Creek Amana High School and the 8th Grade Band director at Clear Creek Amana Middle School in Tiffin, Iowa. She manages the social media site, One More Time, Please, where she shares tips, articles, and thoughts from her daily life as a band director. Williamson is a two-time quarter-finalist of the GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year Award. She is a sought after clinician in the state of Iowa and her home state of Wyoming.
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