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Tips on Avoiding Trouble

Some trombonists almost never have any trouble with their instrument; others have trouble constantly. The reason is that one knows how to take care of his trombone and avoid trouble while the other player doesn't. Here are a few ways to avoid trouble, in addition to the ways mentioned in the foregoing.

  1. Be sure your case gives adequate protection to your instrument, especially to your hand slides. The case in which the instrument came to you from the manufacturer usually has proper blocking, but often second hand cases or "special" cases made by firms who "specialize" in cases do not give the trombone proper protection. Be particularly careful to see that the slides do not rest on nor can bump against the hand slide crook. To let this crook hit the case is fatal to good slide action, as a drop or bump of the case is liable to spring the slides.

  2. The slides are generally held in the lid of the case. If so, the blocking should be loose enough so that when the lid is sprung in opening, the slides will not be sprung also. See Fig. 23 for more complete explanation of proper blocking. How often have you tried to open your case and one end has stuck. You get a good grip on the free end and yank the case open. This tortional force is what does damage to slide action. Take a stick of gum, hold one end between your left thumb and finger, the other end between your right thumb and finger. Then, holding the left end stationary, twist the right end. That's tortion and gives you a rough idea of what happens to your trombone slides when you open the case in the manner described. See Fig. 24.

  3. Don't hit your mouthpiece with your hand to seat it when you put it in the mouthpiece receiver. This constant hitting with the hand tends to spring the slides. Simply put the mouthpiece in the receiver and give it a slight, firm twist to seat it.

  4. Between numbers many players rest their trombone on the hand slide bumper knob. In this position it is liable to skid and run under the music stand or under a chair. This results in dented slides. Keep hold of your instrument so it will not skid.

  5. To avoid dropping your slides, always take hold of your trombone by the outside hand slide brace, even though your instrument has a slide lock. If you form this habit, you will not need to worry whether the slide lock is locked or not. The gun which "isn't loaded" is always the one which "goes off," and the slide which is "locked" is always the one which drops to the floor.

  6. When putting your trombone down, don't lay it across a chair; lay it on a flat surface, full length, or take apart and lay both sections flat. When the trombone overhangs on both sides of a chair and is supported only by the center part, the slides are put on an unnecessary strain.

  7. Another careless trick of some players is to lay the trombone across the opened trombone case. Often when the player picks up his instrument he'll hit the slides against the latch and put a dent in them. They have only 2 or 3 hairs wall thickness, remember.

  8. Don't go through a revolving door, holding your case by the center handle. Carry the case approximately parallel with your body and avoid getting one end of it caught in the door. If you have a formed case, carry it by hugging the bell end in the crook of your arm, close to your side.

  9. Don't sit or lean on your case. This is liable to spring the lid of the case and damage your slides.

  10. Examine the water key cork often and replace it as needed. Much oil from the slides soaks this cork and softens it, making it necessary to replace it often, Keep the cork in good shape so you won't get caught with a leaking water key on an important playing engagement.

For other tips read those on Piston Valve Instruments, page 7. Many of these tips apply also to slide trombone, especially those about chewing gum while playing, eating candy just before an engagement, use of heavy mutes, keeping mouthpieces and other accessories from banging around in your case loose, etc.