Trombone Studio

Closeup of trombone player and their music stand during a performance

Trombone Program Information

In addition to developing technique and musicianship through study of appropriate literature in the applied lesson setting, trombone students participate in master classes, orchestral excerpt coaching sessions, trombone choir, and chamber music (such as trombone quartets and brass quintets). Trombone pedagogy classes are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels and geared to assist students in diagnosing performance problems, developing teaching strategies, implementing studio curriculum development, and finding instructional resources.

KU trombone studio members have achieved success in performance venues. Current/former studio members have won auditions for or performed with groups including the Disneyland All-American College Band, the Disneyland Band, the Kansas City Symphony, the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, the Spokane Symphony, the Omaha Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Chuncheon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Seoungnam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jeonju Symphony Orchestra, the Korean Chamber Orchestra (last five orchestras listed in various cities in South Korea), the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra (Guangdong Province, PRC), the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, the St. Joseph Symphony, the Washington-Idaho Symphony, the Fountain City Brass Band, the Boulevard Big Band, the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, and in United States active duty, national guard, and reserve armed forces bands. They have earned recognition at MTNA, Asia Trombone Seminar, Kansas Federation of Music Clubs, DownBeat, Big XII Trombone Workshop, and International Trombone Association solo competitions. Recent graduates have also been appointed to trombone/low brass teaching positions in universities (University of Idaho, Washington State University, Graceland University, Angelo State University, Baker University, Kansas Wesleyan University, Ottawa University, and Bemidji State University. Also Jeju National University and  Dankook University in the Republic of Korea) and public school teaching positions across the United States and overseas.

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Davidson

Trombone Accordions

Disclaimer - I’m an artist endorser for M&W Custom Trombones. I play an M&W 322 tenor trombone, an M&W 322-T tenor trombone, and an M&W 129 .500 bore alto trombone. I personally think they’re the finest trombones made today and the best horns for me. Disclaimer aside, here are some possible recommendations for you.

Large Bore Tenors (.547 bore)

  • M&W Custom Trombones: The M&W Trombones are amazing works of art, and are arguably the finest trombones made. M&W stands for McLemore and Walker, the two professional trombonists who started the company. The M&W 322 or 322-T (T is for “Tuning In Slide”) models are the tenor designations. Consider this option. These horns will be in-line, price-wise, with the Greenhoe/Edwards/Shires horns – they’re custom made, and will take a while to make and for you to receive them. That said, they’re VERY well-made.
    Read more here: M&W Custom Trombones
  • Yamaha 882OR: The “R” in the model number is important here – this is the instrument designed by Larry Zalkind, trombone professor at Eastman, and former principal trombonist of the Utah Symphony. It is, in my opinion, the best horn available today NOT made by a custom instrument manufacturer.
    Read more here: YSL-882OR Tenor Trombones with F Attachment
  • Conn-Selmer: makers of Bach Model 42 (47) trombones/Conn 88H trombones: back in the day, the Bach 42B and Conn 88H were the two “gold standards” for trombones. Arguably, all modern trombones are derived from things incorporated in these two models (one-piece or two-piece bells, soldered or unsoldered bell rims, bell flares, wide or narrow slides, etc.). The 42B has changed the most recently, with different wraps and valves  for the F-attachment. Conn_Selmer changes.
  • Courtois AC 420BOR: This is an open wrap F-attachment trombone similar to a Bach 42BO in my opinion. Courtois makes fine instruments. The 420 comes in a variety of valve possibilities (rotary, Hagmann, Thayer).
  • S. E. Shires trombones: Steve Shires is a master craftsman. Make sure you get a horn made entirely in the USA. You’ll pay more, but it’s worth it, in my opinion. These are modular instruments that give you many bell/slide/valve combination possibilities.
    Read more here: S.E. Shires Company
  • Greenhoe trombones: Greenhoe is now owned and marketed by Schilke instruments, but made to all original Greenhoe specifications by the former shop foreman at Greenhoe.
    Read more here: Greenhoe Trombones
  • Getzen/Edwards Trombones: These are made in Elkhorn, WI, and the parent company is Getzen. They are essentially modular designed instruments, with lots of valve/slide/tuning slide combinations, unless you buy the Edwards Alessi model trombone (T396A). The Getzen Custom series trombones (3047AFR) are the most popular Edwards bell/slide combinations – you can buy these horns a bit cheaper than an Edwards since you have only two possible choices instead of hundreds of choices for Edwards horns. Read more about Getzen Trombones.
    Read more here: Edwards Trombones.

Valve advice: Try them out! I have students that play on Hagmann, Thayer (AKA Axial Flow), regular, and oversized rotary valves. It all depends on preference, and how much resistance you want. Generally, in my opinion the Thayer valves seem to offer the least resistance, followed by the Hagmann, oversized rotor, and regular-sized rotor. Hagmann and rotary valves also seem to require less maintenance than Thayer valves, in my opinion. Try them out. See what you like.

Bass Trombones

  • Bach 50B3OG: The biggest thing to watch for in bass trombones, in my opinion, is to make sure you don’t go larger than a 9.5-inch bell. Anything bigger is too large a bell, in my opinion. This has an option for a 10.5-inch bell– the 50B3L. Stay away!!!
  • Getzen Custom 3062AFR: This horn features dual Thayer valves, open wrap, and a dual bore slide as standard. I’m not a fan of the dual bore slide, but they will sell you one that does not have dual bore slide – you have to call and ask. This is a great horn at a great price. If you want a little less expensive instrument with traditional rotary valves, check out the Getzen 1052FDR. Read more here: Getzen Horns
  • Courtois AC502B: This instrument is a more affordably priced bass trombone from a well-respected instrument maker. Courtois makes a full line of trombones; they are the choice of the best trombonists in the world, including the section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. 
  • Yamaha YBL-830 Xeno: Opt for the gold brass bell, in my opinion.
  • M&W, Shires, and Edwards and Greenhoe make bass trombones as well. They’re great. They’re custom, and cost a bit more than the other bass trombones I’ve listed. In general, I’d personally stay away from dual bore slides, bells larger than 9.5 inches, and bells that are too heavy. I like gold brass alloy in my trombone bells. Websites listed above will take you to the bass trombone pages.

Small Bore Horns (.500 - .525 bore)

  • 500 bore slides: XO 1632: This is a pro horn from Xeno, designed and endorsed by jazz great John Fedchock. This would be fine for your jazz band, obviously. Bach 12: This is a .500 bore horn comparable to the Xeno listed above; King 2B+
  • 508 bore slides: Getzen Eterna 1050. King 3B (I really like the 3B, as it has a slightly bigger (8 inch) bell – I think this is a great “jazz” horn for an orchestral player/doubler, as it give you a little more “room”.)
  • 525 bore slides: Bach 36: This is a .525 bore instrument (medium large bore, bigger than a beginner, or most jazz horns, but smaller than a .547 large bore tenor trombone); King 3 B+

It’s important to have good, reliable equipment (horn, MP, etc.). While pro equipment will help you improve (and, if you have only a beginning model trombone, they are necessary for improvement) you will make an improvement (change) permanent only when your concept of sound (and/or technique, breathing, etc.) changes. For that, you’ll need an open mind, great examples, a good recording
device, and a good private lesson teacher. Good luck!!

Hand Grips

  • Wise Grip – marketed by Thompson music, this is a hard plastic piece that snaps onto your trombone slide and acts as an angle reducer – it’s quite comfortable. $25.00 from Thompson Music. May help if your hand cramps up.
    Read more here: Thompson Music: Wise Grip
  • Left hand Braces – there are several hand braces to help you hold/distribute the horn’s weight in your left hand. I recommend the Bullet Brace by Edwards Instruments, and the Sheridan: Get a Grip as possibilities. Greenhoe/Schilke has a rest bar that also worksquite well. FOR BASS TROMBONE, I recommend the Rath Hand Brace, made by British trombone builder Michael Rath.

Mute Recommendations

You need a straight and a cup mute for high school playing. For college and beyond you’ll need a harmon (AKA “Wah-Wah”), bucket, and perhaps different types of straight mutes that include different metals/wood; plunger mute for jazz work.

My basic mute suggestion is to buy a Denis Wick cup mute, as I think this is the best one on the market. You can buy a Denis Wick metal straight mute, or get fancier with Jo-Ral mutes (brass, or copper bottom). I’d go with Jo-Ral bucket and Windy City harmon mutes, but that’s just my opinion. Again, my opinion, stay away from Humes and Berg fiber mutes, as I think they play really stuffy. If you want a good fiber mute, Denis Wick makes one for about $20.00 that plays really well.

Other good mute makers out there include but are not limited to, Tom Crown; Wallace; Best Brass; TrumCor. Humes and Berg make a Solo-tone mute that is pretty good, so if you need one of these, by all means, get one. A practice mute is helpful as long as you don’t use it all the time!! It’s for pros to play when they’re stuck in a hotel room, or for warming up backstage. Best Brass and Bremner make fine practice mutes that sort of “nest” in the bell. All of these can be purchased at Hickey’s Music,, and most likely at your local dealer.

Mouthpiece Recommendations

  • Large Bore Tenor Mouthpieces: Bach 6.5 AL, or 5G; Schilke 51 (NOT 51D – this is a euphonium mouthpiece!) or 52; Griego 5; Denis Wick 5BS, 6AL, 6BL. Gold plating feels better and may be necessary if a student is allergic to silver plate. Stainless steel mouthpieces are also good for hypo-allergenic reasons, but they tend to cost more.
  • Bass Trombone Mouthpieces: Bach 2G, Bach 1.5G; Schilke 58, 59; Griego 2. Be careful not to get too large too soon – the bass trombone plays in the tenor trombone’s range most of the time…

Don’t play a mouthpiece just because some famous player uses it – while it works well for them, it will most likely not work as well (or at all) for you. There are no quick fixes – slow progress wins the day, in my opinion. Avoid gimmicks. While they may “solve” an immediate problem in the short term, they may create new problems.

Trombone Cleaning Necessities

  • Nylon Mouthpiece Brush (USE EVERY DAY after practice!) – I’d get a mouthpiece pouch, too, put your MP in the pouch and avoid damage to the rim, shank, etc.
  • Cleaning rod and cheesecloth (for slide), or, better yet, Slid-O-Mix Cleaning System, which includes a rod, a bendable nylon brush attachment, and a cloth sleeve for the rod. These come in small and large bore slide sizes.
  • Slide-O-Mix Multi Wiper – will safely clean most of the interior of your horn, including slide crook – no metal parts! It is made of plastic and has a swab on one end of the snake. Recommended.
  • Put horn in the bathtub with lukewarm soapy water – disassemble horn, clean, put back together (don’t pop the rotary valve out !!!). Then reassemble, lubricate! Use Hetman synthetic lubricants (I recommend #8 for the tuning slides, #11 for the F-attachment rotor, #14 for the bearing, #15 for the ball joints in the trigger linkage, and Yamaha Trombone Slide Lubricant (this is different than Yamaha Trombone Slide Cream, and similar to Slide-O-Mix, but much better, in my opinion) - REPEAT THIS EVERY 2 WEEKS!

Maintenance Suggestion

Have a repair technician professionally clean and “PC” your horn twice a year. This should include getting the slide aligned. Find a great repair technician to do this work for you.

This is a living document, please check back to see updates. 

Recommended Solos and Ensembles for KSMEA Contest

  1. Achieve good balance and posture! Make sure that your horn is held comfortably, with all the weight held by the left hand. This will make moving your slide much easier. Stand or sit comfortably in a position that allows for freedom of movement.
  2. Make sure your instrument is in good working order. Bad habits will creep in because of faulty equipment. If you slide doesn't move smoothly, well, you're in trouble and at risk of developing some REALLY BAD performance habits.
  3. Blow the air freely - don't force the sound. Some players will, at times, use the tongue as a substitute for the air - this is always a BAD idea! In general, think "more air, less tongue." When playing, try to blow the tongue out of the way with the air.
  4. Make use of wind patterning.  Blow the air into the palm of your hand - you should feel the air moving with some velocity in a small circle on your palm. Try to duplicate this when you're playing the trombone.
  5. Remember, if you can buzz it, you can really play it. 
  6. Be an active listener. Listen to great players, and not just trombone players. Listen to great music.
  7. Do something every day that will develop your technical skills - practice scales every day. Do them slowly (for correct intonation), then at a fast tempo (for technique).
  8. Do something every day that will allow you to develop your singing skills. The ability to ACCURATELY sing intervals and melodic lines has direct bearing on your level of success as a performer. Be accurate - don't approximate.
  9. Overact. Be melodramatic - expand your dynamic and expressive capabilities - remember, you are executing a dynamic change only when your audience can tell!
  10. Record yourself often - make sure you're making music like you THINK you are. Recordings don't lie.
  11. If you really want to be a player, there is no substitute for having a professional model instrument, and a good private lesson teacher.

Here is just a sample of  world class artists that have performed recitals and masterclasses at KU:

  • Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombonist, New York Philharmonic/The Julliard School
  • Brett Baker, former principal trombonist, Black Dyke Band; trombone soloist, recording artist
  • Ronald Barron, Principal Trombonist (retired), Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Bill Booth, UCLA/Principal Trombonist, L.A. Opera/L.A. studios - trombonist
  • Corpus Quartet: Andrs Sütoö, Péter Paálinkás, Róbert Káip, Gábor Görög-Hegyi
  • Dr. JoDee Davis, trombone professor, the University of Missouri - Kansas City
  • John Fedchock, jazz trombonist/composer
  • Dave Glenn, jazz trombonist/composer
  • Randall Hawes, Bass Trombonist, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Porter Wyatt Henderson, Associate Principal Trombonist, Kansas City Symphony
  • Dr. Gustav Hoena, Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary
  • Dr. Tim Howe, trombone professor, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Dr. Paul Hunt, Kansas State University
  • Thomas Klaber, bass trombonist, Cleveland Orchestra
  • Lance LaDuke, trombonist, Boston Brass
  • Dr. Drew Leslie, visiting assistant professor of trombone, The University of Missouri - Columbia
  • Dr. Peter Madsen, trombone professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Delfeayo Marsalis, jazz trombonist, composer, recording artist
  • Elliot Mason, trombonist, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, jazz faculty, Northwestern University
  • Dr. William Mathis, trombone professor, Bowling Green State University
  • Ilan Morgenstern, Bass Trombonist, San Antonio Symphony and Houston Grand Opera orchestras
  • Graeme Mutchler, Bass Trombonist, Utah Symphony
  • Roger Oyster, Principal Trombonist, Kansas City Symphony
  • Gerry Pagano, Bass Trombonist, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Adam Rainey, Bass Trombonist, Kansas City Symphony
  • Resonant Projection Trombone Quartet - Dr. Joshua Bynum, University of Georgia; Dr. Paul Compton, Oklahoma State University; Dr.  Brian Conklin, Dallas/Ft. Worth studio teacher; Prof. Tony Hutchins, Morningside College
  • William Rose, trombone professor, McNeese State University
  • Steve Shires, S.E. Shires custom trombones
  • Gerald Sloane, trombone professor, University of Arkansas
  • Dr. J. Mark Thompson, trombone professor, Northwestern State University of Louisiana
  • USAF "Brass in Blue"
  • David Vining, trombone professor, Northern Arizona University
  • Kirsten Warfield, United States Army Band "Pershing's Own"

Introductory Methods Books

  • First Book of Practical Studies, Gerald Bordner. Pretty basic and pedantic, I suppose – Bordner basically beats one key signature and two contrasting rhythms to death in each etude. Etudes are very progressive. That said, at the end of book 1, your students can play in 6 or 7 key signatures, do sixteenth note subdivisions in common time, dotted quarter eighth note rhythms, and chromatic scale work.
  • Daily Routines for the Student Trombonist, 2ed, David Vining. Easier version of fundamentals than his previously mentioned Daily Routines book.
  • Method for Trombone, Walter Beeler. Old school method book, very much in the vein of the old Belwin Mills/Fred Weber First Division series, but more for individual lesson format, in my opinion.
  • 55 Phrasing Studies for Trombone, Jaroslav Cimera. Kind of hilarious in that there are indeed 60 exercises in the book, not 55… a book for phrasing, legato playing, used before Bordogni vocalizes. In various keys, time signatures.

Advanced Methods Books

  • Method, Arban – everything in the Arban method is relevant for brass players. The single tonguing and syncopation studies in the beginning, the interval studies, arpeggio studies, scales, studies in 16th notes, and multiple tonguing sections are the most relevant, in my opinion. Alessi/Bowman, or Raph editions are available now.
  • Lip Slurs, Brad Edwards – As listed – lip and natural slurs are explored in depth.  No other book on the market does this nearly as well or as thoroughly.
  • Complete Vocalises for Trombone, Marco Bordogni, edited Michal Mulcahy – The old Rochut studies were taken from Marco Bordogni’s singing method. There are over 100 etudes in this book, which explore legato playing, musicianship, phrasing, and stylist issues.
  • Sixty Studies, Georg Kopprasch. Adapted for trombone, published by Carl Fischer.Also available for free download on IMSLP. The first book might be all you need…
  • Selected Kopprasch Studies for Trombone with F-attachment, Kopprasch/Fote – Originally for horn, adapted and edited for low trombone by Richard Fote, published by Kendor Music. Technically illuminating. Work your low register – for basses, too…
  • Introducing the Tenor (Alto) Clef, Reginald Fink – Dr. Fink compiled these easy, tuneful etudes to help students learn to read clefs. There are orchestral excerpts and etudes that change clefs as sort of “finishing studies,” then on to the Blazhevich… I suggest trying tenor clef first…
  •  Studies in Clefs, Vladislav Blazhevich – the Russian master teacher gives us a great book. Every trombonist needs to read alto, tenor, bass clefs. These get the job done. They’re very challenging. Advanced students taking private lessons only.
  • Simply Singing, Brad Edwards – What it says, it delivers upon. These are great “pre-Bordogni” works, short, easy, fun to play. Work your musicianship. There are over 25 “foundation builder” etudes in here, as well. Foundational.
  • Range Songs, David Vining. Works upper and lower register. Versions available for tenor or bass trombone.
  • 70 Progressive Studies for the Modern Bass Trombonist, Lew Gillis – published by Southern Music and written for single trigger instruments, these are really great for tenor trombonists working trigger technique. The fingering chart leaves much to be desired…short answer, don’t use the F-attachment for any note above second space C in the bass clef staff, except for extraordinary technical reasons, or unless specifically called for by the composer.
  • Daily Routines, David Vining. Seven different routines working fundamentals. 30 minutes per day will expand your performance capabilities. For tenor or bass trombones.
  • Warm-Up Studies, Emory Remington/edited Hunsberger. Foundational.
  • Low Range Studies for Trombone, Vladislav Blazhevich/Vernon (Kharlamov and Deryugin). Charles Vernon (bass trombonist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra) has rescored (for range) these tunes from other Blazhevich sources (Clef Studies, or Tuba Studies) to help facilitate the low/valve register of the tenor trombone. Although these can and should be performed by bass trombonists, they will help tenor trombonists develop facility and sound in the bass clef staff and below, to play in what Mr. Vernon calls the “bread and butter” register.
  • 24 Low Legato Studies for Trombone With F Attachment, William Hill, edited Vernon. These etudes are in a similar vein as the Low Register Studies, except they are by various composers.
  • 15 Minute Warm-Up For Trombone, Michael Davis. Fundamentals with soundtrack for each one. Will help time, intonation. Recommended.
  • Orchestral/Solo tenor trombonists on YouTube: Ian Bousfield, Natalie Mannix, Toby Oft, Mark Lawrence, Scott Hartman, Domingo Pagliuca, Timothy Myers, Brittany Lasch, Jay Friedman, Michael Mulcahy, Joseph Alessi, Christian Lindberg, Ava Ordman, Nico Schippers, Jorgen Van Rijen, Alain Trudel, Jacques Mauger, Benny Sluchin, Jeremy Wilson, Roger Oyster, Brett Baker, etc.…Orchestral basses: Gerry Pagano, Doug Yeo, James Markey, Charles Vernon, Randall Hawes, George Curran, Denson Paul Pollard, Ben Van Dyke, Martin Schippers, Stefan Schulz, Adam Rainey, etc.
  • Jazz trombonists: John Fedchock, Urbie Green, Wycliffe Gordon, J.J. Johnson, Carl Fontana, Bill Watrous, Ray Anderson, Jim Pugh, Ray Anderson, Delfeayo Marsalis, Dave Glenn, Frank Rosolino, Brian Scarborough, etc.
  • Jazz basses: Jennifer Wharton, Dave Taylor, Bill Reichenbach, Chris Brubeck, etc.
  • Trombone Ensembles: Four of a Kind, Corpus Trombone Quartet, The Stentorian Consort, Chicago Trombone Consort, Washington Trombone Ensemble, Drei Bones, The Trombones of the Saint Louis Symphony, American Trombone Quartet, The London Trombone Sound, etc.