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