Recommended Solos and Ensembles for KSMEA Contest

Music Notes

Dr. Michael Davidson, The University of Kansas 

I would be remiss if I did not suggest to band directors or to aspiring trombonists that they purchase a copy of Solos for the Student Trombonist, 2ed. J. Mark Thompson, editor. Editions Bim: Vuarmarens, Switzerland, 2001. This database has hundreds of solos for alto, tenor, and bass trombones, grades 3-6, plus recording suggestions for works included in the database. 

Trombone Solos, Duets, & Trios

Sång till Lotta, Jan Sandström.  Edition Tarrodi: Stockholm, Sweden, 1991. Trombone and piano. Requires modest range (F – g flat1), well-developed lyricism, and musicianship. There are two versions of this piece, this and another that is scored a minor third higher. Written dynamics are minimal. Although phrases and slurs are not indicated, it is a SONG…encourage legato tonguing! Stefan Schulz, bass trombonist of the Berlin Philharmonic, gives a great performance of this work on YouTube.

A Winter’s Night, Kevin McKee, 2011. Available from the composer. Trombone and piano. Explores the relative minor of three keys, easy rhythms, keys, range (A – g1, ossia to b flat1). There is a fine recording of this work on his web site. 

Trombone Sonata, Gordon Jacob. Emerson Edition: Yorkshire, England, 1979. Trombone and piano. There are no real difficult rhythms or technical considerations in this work, which lasts about 7 minutes. There is tenor clef used throughout the second movement, and it switches between bass and tenor in the last movement. Range is F – b flat1.  Recorded by Dr. Ron Babcock on his CD Trombone Treasures, and available at Hickey’s Music

Divertimento, Edward Gregson. Chappell Music: London, 1968. Trombone and piano. Three movements, range is modest (G-g#1, ossia a1), bass clef throughout. Some mixed meter. Requires a mute, glissandi, and ad. lib. flutter tonguing. Recorded by Brett Baker on his CD The World of Trombone, volume 1, and can be purchased at Brett Baker website.

Sonata, Robert Jones. Wingert-Jones: Kansas City, MO, 1970.  Trombone and piano. This piece is in three movements, with the third movement being played attacca. This has everything in it – many chances for lyrical playing, unaccompanied playing, technical demands, and great interplay between the trombone and piano lines. Range is moderate (G – a1). Students will need guidance in playing the phrasing as indicated, as it sometimes shows slurs above “staccato” notation. There is a trill at the end of the first movement, glissandi “rips” in the third. A mute is required in the second movement. Recorded by Dr. Ron Babcock on his CD Trombone Treasures, and available at Hickey’s Music.

Sonata, John Boda. Alphonse Leduc: Paris, 1963. This is a two movement work, range is E – a1. The player must negotiate mixed meter in the first movement, which to me seems a bit slow if you play the tempo marked – maybe around dotted quarter =96ish? Second movement is the more technical of the two, with more mixed meters, and will prove the most challenging. Articulations are clearly marked throughout. All the accidentals are in the measure, which is both blessing and curse…That said, this is a fine work for a good high school player and above. 

Pièce in fa mineur, Florentin Morel. Billadout, assigned to Theodore Presser, 1933. Trombone and piano. ABA form, typical of the Paris Conservatory contest pieces of the time. Morel showcases the technical and lyrical qualities of the trombone. Range is F – c2. Some tenor clef, and requires the trombonist to perform a trill. A very fine solo for the advanced level high school performer. A great work, perhaps to be studied before Guilmant’s  Morceau Symphonique or Saint Saëns’ Cavatine. Recorded by Dr. Stephen Parsons on his CD Stephen Parsons – Trombone, and can be purchased at Hickey’s Music.

Sonata No. 1, Johann Ernst Galliard. International Music Company, 1963.  Trombone and piano. If you buy this edition you get three sonatas for the price of one, edited by Keith Brown, the long-time trombone professor at Indian University. The first sonata is a five-movement work, in A minor. Range is E – g1, so an F-attachment might be helpful in performing this work. This is a fine example of a Baroque sonata. No hard rhythms indicated. Think of the first movement in 8, the third in 6 (my recommendation). Recorded by Professor Donald Knaub on his CD Retread, and available at Hickey’s Music.  

Hymn for the Lost and the Living, Eric Ewazen, arranged Chris Gekker. Southern Music: San Antonio, TX, 2002. A powerful tribute to the victims of 9/11. Dr. Ewazen scored this for concert band, Chris Gekker arranged for it trumpet and also trombone. Range is b flat – b flat1. No hard rhythms, but a more mature performer with great musicianship needed. Playing longer phrases may prove difficult.    

Michigan Legends, Curtis Olson. ITA Manuscript Press/Warwick Music: Coventry, England, 2001. Trombone and piano. Curtis Olson was the trombone professor at Michigan State University. Of his programmatic work of 5 solo pieces he writes: “The pieces in this book are written for trombone and piano and are intended for the trombonist at the intermediate level in the public school system – assuming reasonable practice. Hey are designed to present a variety of musical styles, to technically challenge the student in a variety of areas, and to provide music which young people will enjoy. The range has been held to sensible limits although the tessitura may be somewhat rigorous (but attainable) at times. I have intended each of these pieces as a festival/contest solo piece, which as a genre, is sorely lacking in quantity and quality…” Range is G flat – f sharp1. Includes mixed meter signatures, grace notes, many accidentals, keys to four flats. The CD included with the solo features Chicago Symphony Orchestra bass trombonist Charles Vernon. This should be good material for a high school trombonist. 

Reflective Mood, Sammy Nestico. Kendor Music: Delevan, NY, 1964. Trombone and piano. A gorgeous ballad by a great jazz trombonist (Mr. Nestico played with  Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, others) and one of the great writers for the Count Basie band (and many others!). Bass clef, range c sharp – a1 (ossia b1). This has been recorded by Stanley Clark on his CD Contrasts, and by Dr. Josh Hauser, trombone professor at Tennessee Technological University, on his CD Slide Ride. Both CDs available at Hickey’s Music. 

Sonata, Vagn Holmboe. Wilhelm Hansen: Copenhagen, 1988. Trombone and piano. This three-movement work requires a skilled pianist for performance. There are no really difficult rhythms in the trombone part, although the range is from E – c2.  Bass and tenor clefs used.  The third movement uses glissandi. There are a few wrong notes in the trombone part, make sure to consult the piano score for clarification. To my knowledge this has not been recorded as yet, but I have a link on this website to a live performance of mine some years ago.

Bourée, Jean-Michel Damase. Gérard Billaudot: Paris, 1999. This work is just right for a good middle school trombonist. Range is modest, c – d sharp1. Easy rhythms, judicious rests, written by a composer who won the Grand Prix de Rome. 

Sonata, Alan Ridout. Emerson Edition: Yorkshire, England, 1984. Trombone alone.  This is a three-movement work with fairly easy rhythms, tempi requirements, and range (E – a1). It is written in bass clef throughout, and the performer has to execute one glissando in the third movement. A tenor-bass trombone is not necessary for performance, but would help smooth some lower technical issues.  No double tonguing is required. The challenge of this work is that it is boring when played straight-ahead. It needs a performer with good interpretive skills, a grasp of musical ebb and flow, a concept of organic growth, a person who knows how to overact musically. This would be a good first trombone alone work for a student trombonist.  I am not aware of any recordings of this work.

Starlight, Arthur Pryor. Carl Fischer: New York, 1939. Trombone and piano. This would be a great “first Pryor” solo. In form like a traditional brass band solo of the period, this work an introduction, a series of waltzes, and a coda. Range is moderate (c-g1; ossia b flat1). Some wide leaps, and the cadenza, are challenges. Easily playable by a good high school trombonist. Recorded by Metropolitan Opera Orchestra trombonist Weston Sprott on his CD Act I, available from Hickey’s Music. 

À la manière de Bach, Jean-Michel Defaye. Alphonse Leduc: Paris, 1990. Defaye has written several (maybe 7?) of these “in the style of_____” works. They’re short, challenging, and work well for trombone. This one is in bass clef, medium tempo, lots of sixteenth notes, but easily single tongued. Two possible endings.  Range is F – c2. Great for a good high school trombonist and beyond. Dr. Josh Bynum has recorded this, and other Defaye “Manieres” on his CD Catalyst.  

Aria, Eugène Bozza. Alphonse Leduc: Paris, 1936. I put this one in the database for the more adventurous teachers. Scored for alto saxophone (or clarinet) and piano, but it works SWIMMINGLY on trombone, just read in bass (tenor) clef, add three (two) flats.  Range is G – f 1. Very lush, lyrical playing required. For a more mature player with a teacher who thinks outside the box… There are several recordings available on YouTube, and euphonium soloist Steven Mead has recorded it on his CD Oration, Available at Hickey’s Music. 

Romance, Axel Jørgensen. Edition Wilhelm Hansen AS: Copenhagen, 1982. This is a work that will make your students better musicians. This happy, whimsical piece screams for use of “organic rubato” and if your students can pull it off, the work sounds great. Several emotions come into play (pardon the pun) in this 5-minute work. Rhythms are easy, range is moderate (E flat – b flat1), a tenor-bass is necessary for performance as written. Peter Ellefson (Pura Vida) and Stephen Parsons (Stephen Parsons, Trombone) have recorded this. If you don’t want to spend the money, I have an unedited raw take from my 2010 recording session on this website.  Band directors, there is a new setting of this work for trombone and concert band done by Christian Eriksen available from Cherry Classics.  Just in case you want to showcase your best trombonist on a concert. 

A Song for Japan, Steven Verhelst. This work for solo trombone was written by composer Steven Verhelst after the magnitude 9 earthquake hit Japan in March 2011. The Song has been played by performing artists and groups the world over. You can find many adaptations of the solo work, almost all of them done by Verhelst himself, for a variety of ensembles, including trombone and piano, brass quintet, trombone quartet, trombone choir, woodwind ensemble, trombone solo and band, and so forth, at A Song for Japan. You can also make a charitable donation, should you choose, although as of this writing, almost all the music is available for free download. The solo is in a moderate tempo, with no real technical issues. Musically challenging, the work will require a mature musician who can play very lyrically and emotionally. Range is A flat – d2 with ossia writing bringing the high range down to a1. Well worth considering on a recital, or for a contest piece for trombone alone, penned by a great composer who writes exceptionally well for brass.  

Romance, William Grant Still, transcribed by Douglas Yeo. International Music: New York, 1990. This offering is from two giants in the music field. The solo was originally scored for alto saxophone and piano by William Grant Still, known as the “Dean” of African-American composers. Douglas Yeo, the long-time bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and current trombone professor at Arizona State University, transcribes the solo for trombone.  The range is modest, B flat – g1, it’s all in bass clef with easy rhythms and a couple of trills that one can disregard by using the ossia as indicated. How musically can you play?   

Haste, Ye Shepherds, J.S. Bach, arranged Thomas Beversdorf. Southern Music: San Antonio, TX, 1961. Thomas Beversdorf was a longtime trombone and composition professor at Indiana University. This arrangement is an oldie, but still great! Two versions of the solo part, one in tenor clef, one in bass clef, are included. In a slow 3/8 time, so the 32nd notes are not nearly as fast as you think they are…A great arrangement of the famous air from the Christmas Oratorio.  

Sonata, Donald White, Southern Music: San Antonio, TX, 1967. This work is a twelve-tone work – you can plainly see the tone row in the trombone’s opening statements. That said, it’s very delightful to listen to (really! – it’s a “tuneful” row!!). White uses lots of driving rhythms in the first and third movements, and the second movement is a melancholy slow movement. The trombonist must negotiate wide leaps and be comfortable in mixed meter, so good sense of rhythm, time, and pulse are important. Written at the request of NACWPI, this is a standard in the literature now. Range is modest (E – b1), the second movement uses a mute. No real technical concerns, although one must have reasonable technique. The third movement requires good breath control, and the ability to take a quick breath or two… Well worth the investment. If you can play the Sulek, this one is a good choice for you, too.  

Terre, Désiré Dondeyne. Editions Robert Martin: Charnay-lès-Mâcon, France, 1994. The publisher lists this as an elementary work, but there are some interesting rhythms, lots of accidentals, style changes, mixed meter, and a short cadenza in this 3-minute work. Range is BB flat – f1. A fine work by a great French composer.

Romance, Op. 2, Victor Ewald, transcribed and edited by David Reed. Edition Musicus, 1984. Originally for cello, this transcription is set in D flat major. No real tricky rhythms here, range is A flat – a flat1, with ossia to low D Flat. Great work for an up and coming musician to work on expressive playing. This is also well suited for euphonium. 

Air du saqueboutier, Christian Gouinguené. Gerard Billaudot: Paris, 1981. This would be a great first solo for the middle school grade trombonist.  Easy rhythms 

(dotted quarter rhythms are most difficult), easy accompaniment part, tonal, range d – d1.  

A Caged Bird, Barbara York. Cimarron Music Press, 2014. This is a newer work, commissioned by the 2014 IWBC. The composer provides program notes. Essentially in ABA form, the work starts with a quasi-cadenza, then breaks into a lively allegro section; another quasi-cadenza is followed by a lyrical section, then ends with a final allegro employing the motives of the original A section. Range is quite manageable (AA – a1). There are no major technical issues, but more mature musicianship is needed to perform the work, in my opinion. Highly recommended.   

Lieder, Johannes Brahms, edited Eric Carlson.  CEC Music: Collingswood, NJ, 2001. These are in two-volumes, all total a set of 23 songs written by Brahms, edited by long-time Philadelphia Orchestra trombonist Eric Carlson.  There are varying degrees of difficulty in these songs, and various keys.  That said, I’m sure you can find one or two to play. The books include a CD with piano accompaniments, as well as the trombone and piano parts. You can get a “bundle” deal for both volumes by ordering these on-line, from CEC Music.

Southeastern Rhapsody, Frank Gulino. Cimarron Music Press, 2013. This work was written for Dr. Bruce Faske (trombone professor, Arkansas State University) when he taught at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. It’s fun, changes key 8 times and has a very important motive that you’ll hear over and over (and over).  Your students will enjoy working on it. It has range of A flat – d2 (only one of these ds, though, and can be played 8vb without ruining the solo). A player with a good command of syncopations, double tonguing (almost certainly necessary), imagination for playing the cadenza, and solid upper range required. Give it to your more advanced high school player.  

Vocalises, Marco Bordogni. AKA “Melodious Etudes” as edited by Rochut, these are great pieces, the first 20 or so are not too challenging range-wise, and quite well-written. There are piano parts readily available, edited by Benny Sluchin, or David Schwartz. Play a couple of these for a solo. You’ll like them!  Bass trombonists, play them down an octave…the CD The Essential Rochut has several of these done by some of the world’s greatest trombonists. If you want to be a music major, students, you’ll HAVE to work on these anyway…might as well get started. 

Concert Piece No. 5, Vladislav Blazhevich. Belwin Mills, 1968, available Tenor Trombone and Piano. This is an approachable work for a fine young trombonist and up. Written by the great Russian trombonist and pedagogue, this is a beautiful, lyric work, range is F – b flat1. Performer must negotiate key signature, time signature and tempo changes, deal with a bit of chromaticism, be a good musician, and play a mean cadenza. All around, a great teaching piece, a fine piece of music, at a great, instant download price. Recorded by the amazing Alain Trudel, listen to Concert Piece No. 5 on YouTube at or buy his CD Conversations. Band directors, Cherry Classics has an available setting for trombone and band. 

Tenor Trombone Solo Collections: Different levels in each of the three books listed:

  • Solos for Trombone, edited by Alan Raph. Carl Fischer, 2010.  44 solos included. The book is edited by a man whose diverse performance credits include the American Symphony Orchestra, Gerry Mulligan and Quincy Jones.
  • Solos for the Trombone Player, edited by Henry Charles Smith.  16 solos included. The book is edited by the former principal trombonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
  • Trombone Essentials, edited Douglas Yeo. G. Schirmer/Hal Leonard 1999. 11 solos by composers from different performance practice periods, edited by the former bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Most of these can be played on either tenor or bass trombone.
  • 24 Concert Pieces, Brad Edwards. Progressively more difficult, some use of tenor clef. Can be downloaded as a complete set, as sets of 12, or individually from TromboneZone. Brad Edwards writes great trombone music!

The Big Horn, Earl Hoffman. Southern Music: San Antonio, TX, 1973. Bass Trombone and piano. There’s a surprising amount of technical ability required with this solo. Range is BB flat – g1. Could be played on a tenor-bass trombone, but better suited to, well, a big horn…Lots of alternate positions marked in here. Only single tonguing required.  

Trigger Treat, Earl Hoffman. Southern Music: San Antonio, TX, 1974. Bass trombone and piano.  Very similar in technical demands to the solo listed above. Range is BB flat – f1.

Drei leichte Stücke (Three Easy Pieces), Paul Hindemith. Edition Schott:  Mainz, Germany, 1966. Originally for cello, works very well on the bass trombone (and the tenor-bass, too, incidentally). Range is modest (C – d1), no real rhythmic issues, just style. Be careful on those down-bows…Lots of recordings for this piece. This work has been recorded by Metropolitan Opera Orchestra bass trombonist Dr. Paul Pollard on his CD Point in Time. It has been recorded by former Boston Symphony Orchestra principal trombonist Ron Barron as well, on his CD Hindemith on Trombone. Both CDs are available at Hickey’s Music. 

Andante, Alexandre Tchérépnin. Boosey Hawkes: London. Tuba or bass trombone and piano.  The hard part about this work is that it requires a good musician that can shape and sustain lines, and who can change keys readily and often – the work changes key signatures 7 times in about 4 minutes. Range is AA flat – d1 . The work may be a bit high for the average high school tubist, but for a bass trombone work, it fits the bill. A fine work by a fine composer of brass music. Recorded by long-time Philadelphia Orchestra bass trombonist Blair Bollinger on his CD Fancy Free.

Sonata, Patrick McCarty. Ensemble Publications: Ithaca, NY, 1962. Bass trombone and piano. This work is a great “first bass trombone” piece. The real difficulties occur in the third movement, with running sixteenth note patterns, and some pedal tones. The range is moderate for bass trombone (EE- d1), with plenty of ossia notes scored for the pedal range. Requires octave jumps into the pedal range. The aforementioned sixteenth note runs, modal harmonies, legato tonguing and 3/8 meter in the last movement (vivace), add some “spice” and will require some work. Highly recommended. This is a standard in the repertoire, and can be heard on professional recitals, but is accessible to student bass trombonists. Sonata for Bass Trombone on YouTube recorded by Yucatan Symphony Orchestra bass trombonist James Meador. He’s a pro, and sounds great! 

Introduction, Theme and Variations, Georg Tibor. Editions Marc Reift: Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Bass trombone and piano. This is a delightful work, transcribed from the trombone choir literature. Consists of a theme and eight variations, showing modest rhythms (no double tonguing required, some triplet rhythms, easy syncopations), and range (FF – g1), a fun tune. For a more advanced player, playable by a good high school performer yet appropriate on professional level recitals. Recorded by Armin Bachman on his CD Fantastic, available at Hickey’s Music. 

Among Us, Jonathan Warburton, Warwick Music: Coventry, England. Bass Trombone and piano.  This is a fine work for trombone or bass trombone – it’ll definitely sound better on bass, but can be played with a large tenor with F-attachment. I honestly like this work a bit if it’s played a bit faster than marked – it’s a nice ballad, appropriate for solo recital, or even a church engagement. Range is D flat – g flat1. The hardest thing is the key – G flat major, with a modulation to G. Written for Randy Hawes, long-time bass trombonist of the Detroit Symphony, it’s a great piece. Work to keep those half-steps in adjacent positions, folks!   

Sonatina, John White, Warwick Music: Coventry, England, 2003. Bass Trombone and piano.  This is a work that employs a bit of cyclicism as a compositional device – the tune in the first movement comes back at the end of the last movement. The second movement, in three sections, begins with an unaccompanied melody, marked – barcarollande – channel your inner Venetian boat driver/singer here. The B section of the second movement is in a sporty 6/8 meter, with driving rhythms.  The third movement is the most technical, with some sixteenth note passages. That said, nothing is too technically demanding.  The range is written DD – a1 with an ossia to CC, so you have to get your low notes on here. This is a really good work as a first bass trombone solo, as the low register stuff is pretty much all seen as long tones. Your students will like working on this piece. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any recordings of this piece.  

Bordogni duets. Yes, several people have written duet parts for the Bordogni etudes. Richard W. Bowlespublished duets for all 120 of the Bordogni etudes for EME publications, titled Contrapuntal Duets for the Bordogni Methode de Chant, though these may be out of print. Tom Ervin published Twenty Counterparts: Duet Accompaniments to the Bordogni-Rochut “Melodious Etudes for Trombone” #1-20. (For anyone unfamiliar with Prof. Ervin, he retired after a long tenure as trombone professor at the University of Arizona, and is a great performer [jazz and orchestral trombone] and pedagogue.) Arthur Leiby has two books, Rochut for Two, and Rochut for Two Too, that continue where Prof. Ervin left off, and provide duets for the next 40 of the etudes. Finally, David Ritt , trombonist with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, has published accompaniments for the first 60 Bordogni vocalises. Range varies, and these duets are typically as challenging as the original Bordogni etudes. The Ervin, Leiby  and Ritt are available from Hickey’s music.

Selected Studies, Voxman/Sixty Counterparts: Duet Accompaniments to the Voxman Selected Studies for Trombone, Tom Ervin. Tom Ervin, 2011. So, if you have the Selected Studies, you can buy this book from Tom Ervin and have the Voxman studies perform double duty – as advanced intermediate exercises and a chamber music. The duets correspond page by page to the Voxman book. Many of these are as challenging as the original studies.  

Two Sketches, Alexander von Kreisler. Southern Music Company, 1969. Sold by Warwick Music. This is a delightful little work, easily accessible for high school level players. Range is moderate (F – a1), so a bass trombone is not necessary, but will help sonority if you have a good player on bass.  You must be able to count and subdivide, as the first movement features hocket-like entrances for all parts. Lots of accidentals, but nothing extreme.  

The Earle of Oxford’s Marche, William Byrd, arranged by Ronald Dishinger. Medici Music, 1991. Nice arrangement here, good for early high school and above, provided all three players have good grasp of rhythm and can play parts that are more independent – beware of the ties! Sixteenth notes in common time seen in all parts, so a decent technique builder here as well. Range F – f1. If you put a large bore tenor on the third part for technical assistance and tone color, that will be just fine. 

Alleluia: A Round, William Boyce, arranged by Jon Bohls. Southern Music Company, 2001.  As the arranger writes in the score: “This arrangement is a study in 1.) unison tuning, 2.) light style and 3.) tonguing, both regular and slurred.” Range is moderate (F – f1), and can be played by four tenor trombones, though an F-attachment trombone will be useful for the fourth part. The work uses easy rhythms and the articulation styles are well indicated.  FYI, Jon Bohls is a professional trombonist and well-respected band director/private teacher in Texas; any trombone ensemble arranged by Bohls will work well for the ensemble.  

Scarborough Fair, arranged Bill Reichenbach, Virgo Music, 1986.  This is a standard for the trombone ensemble. Top three parts can be played on straight horns, a large tenor or a bass trombone on the bottom is necessary for the low D. Rhythmic independence needed in all parts. Range is D – a1.  The work is arranged by one of the great LA studio/jazz bass trombonists of all time – Mr. Reichenbach’s credits include tours with the Buddy Rich and Toshiko Akiyoshi - Lew Tabackin big bands, and his website lists him as playing on over 600 movie soundtracks.   

Dances from a Hillside Manor, Eric Culver, C.L. Barnhouse, 1987. This work uses some mixed meter. Culver writes great motives, melodies, and fine counterpoint. Range is moderate (E flat [C ossia]– a1), rhythms are not too hard, four tenors could play this, but a real bass bone will sound great on 4th part. Will help develop independence, and tuning. Must have reasonable technique and good ears to play this in performance. The work was commissioned by Yamaha for the 1986 ITA Workshop.  

Tant que vivray, Claudin de Sermisy, transcribed and edited by Michael Davidson. KU Trombone Studio web page, FREE DOWNLOAD. This is a great work, if I do say so myself… The range is B flat (BB flat ossia) - f1 with some mixed meter, and easy rhythms. This will work for mixed low brass ensemble, as well.  A fine example of a Parisian chanson, the forerunner of the instrumental canzona.  

Magnificat Fugue quarti toni IV. 1, Johann Pachelbel, transcribed and edited by Michael Davidson. KU Trombone Studio web page, FREE DOWNLOAD. This is a bit harder than the Sermisy, I think, as more rhythmic independence is required . This can be played with three tenors and bass, or a tuba on 4th part if necessary. Originally for organ, it’s a short work, about a minute and 30 seconds. Range is BB flat – g1.  Please listen to a live recording at the KU Trombone Studio FaceBook Page. 

Loch Lomand, traditional, arranged by Michael Forbes. Kendor Music, 2009.  This is a lovely arrangement; all parts have the melody at one time or another. Great way to teach intonation, phrasing, and legato playing. For quartet, but doubling parts makes it sound better, in my opinion. Range is f-f1, although an F-attachment might help with technique. Bass trombone on fourth would help with tonal color, but is not necessary for performance. This is also good for tuba-euphonium ensemble. 

Three Dances, Tilman Susato, arranged by Sy Brandon. Co-op Press, 1994. Available on line at Co-op Press. This is a three-dance suite using happy, bouncy, tuneful melodies in the outer movements, slow. Co-op Press owner and composer/arranger Sy Brandon lists this as a grade three.  Range is moderate. No really challenging rhythms or technical issues noted.  Be sure to tell your first trombone player to play the d1 in 4th position to keep those half steps in adjacent positions! The piece can be played with four straight tenors, although using a bass trombone (or an F-attachment horn) would provide better tone colors, in my opinion. Range is F (E flat ossia) – g1. 

On A Hymnsong of Philip Bliss, David Holsinger, transcribed by Harbinson. TRN Music, 2006. This would be a very taxing quartet, as there is almost no rest in the parts. However, if you can double the parts…! Set in the original band key, it has a marvelous sonority. Range is D flat – b flat1. You’ll need a bass trombone to get those great sonorities. Also, be advised there are two misprints in the parts and score -  in measure 25, beats 3 and 4, the third trombones should have something that works with a D flat major chord – I recommend d flat1. In measure 58, beats 3 and 4, the second trombones have a similar problem, and I recommend the same fix. 

In Memoriam. Raymond Premru. Ensemble Publications: Ithaca, NY, 1961.  This work has easy rhythms, but requires mature musicianship in all parts. Range is D – a1, but a bass trombone will sound better on the bottom part. No real technical demands, just challenging musically. Your students will like this. Also playable as a trombone choir piece. Must have command of GREAT dynamic range. 

Li’l Darlin’, Neal Hefti, arr. Gary Slechta, 2013. Selecta-a-Press. This is a great quartet of the famous tune as recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra. Slechta’s arrangement closely follows the scoring by Roy Phillippe and published by Alfred/Warner Brothers. All parts in bass clef, written out solo, you’ll want a bass trombone on the 4th part.  Teach your kids style and patience…. 

Quartet No. 1, James Meador, 2005. Distributed by Potenza Music Publishing, 2016.  This two-movement work is even better as a trombone choir piece, but can easily be played by a quartet. Each movement can be played as a stand-alone work. Range is a bit more advanced (AA – b flat1). The first movement, Novos Sonorous, big dynamic changes, bell tones, and driving motor rhythms that end in soft chorales. The work centers around D, sounds minor/modal depending on the spot. This movement will take more endurance, but one sees pretty easy rhythms throughout. The next movement, Ludus Tonalis, uses mixed meters throughout, and drives and dances nicely. James Meador is a former bass trombonist of the Yucatán Symphony, and also has works and arrangements in the Warwick Music catalog. This is a fine quartet for a more advanced group. The KU Trombone Choir YouTube recording of the second movement from a 2012 KMEA performance.

If Ye Love Me, Thomas Tallis, arranged Grant Morgan. Sheet Music Plus (SMP) Press, 2017. This is a fine quartet for the developing players. Range is E flat – f1. Rhythms are easy, and the chordal writing will develop your trombone ensemble. Grant is one of my former students, an amazing bass trombone player and teacher, and co-founder of the Kansas City Trombone Workshop. His edition of the Tallis, with a recording to listen to, is published on line. Well worth the price. Here’s the link: If Ye Love Me - Trombone Quartet (digital sheet music).

I Know a Young Maiden, Orlando di Lasso, edited Jay Lichtmann. This would be a challenging quartet for a good high school group and above. The first three parts are in tenor clef, the fourth part in bass clef, and it requires at least an F-attachment to play (double trigger bass trombone would be best). The range is moderate (C – c1), the voices don’t cross and all rhythms are easy.  There is no rest in the piece, but the work is short. This is edited by Hartford Symphony Orchestra trumpet player and Hartt School of Music professor Jay Lichtmann and available as a free download at the web-site listed above (there’s lots of free downloads here, by the way – explore the site!!). The download only includes the parts, so if you like it for contest, you may need to email Prof. Lichtmann and see if he will send you a score. The price for this? Prof. Lichtmann asks that, if you like the music and play it, should you ever run into him he’d appreciate a cup of coffee.

Quartets for Brass, various composers, arranged John Marcellus. Belwin Mills,  1986. Assigned to Alfred Music. All parts in bass clef, in score order on page. Learn the “classics.” John Marcellus was the longtime trombone professor at Eastman, FYI. 

Fanfare for Trombones, Andrew C. Fox, ITA Press, 1995, via Warwick Music Ltd. This is a nice, short fanfare for 4 tenor trombones and bass trombone  (tuba). Rhythms are straightforward, tempo is moderate, everything can be single-tongued, all parts are in bass clef, voices never cross, range is BB flat – b flat1. Nice work, no advanced techniques needed, I would definitely suggest bass bone for 5th part. There is an optional 8vb in the first trombone, probably not necessary in this 51 measure work.  If you have enough trombones to do so, make it a choir piece. 

Fantasia (Hypodorian), Thomas Stoltzer, transcribed and edited Robert King, Robert King/Alphonse Leduc. This five-part (4 tenors, 1 bass) transcribed Renaissance era offering is in cut time with easy rhythms and range. The first two parts ascend to a1. Tenor trombone with F -attachment  is needed for the 5th part, with range down to D, but a bass trombone will give you a better sound. This is not the most exciting or musically interesting work, but… Score and parts.  

Echo, Orlando di Lasso, edited W.S. Fatch, Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag, 1996.  This is an eight-part work for two four-part choirs. All parts are in bass clef, range is moderate C (optional BB flat) – g1. Rhythmic independence needed; the “echo” always occurs two beats after the statement. This would be a fine work for a good high school trombone choir and above.  

Isle of Mann, Kenyon Wilson, Potenza Music, 2013. This is a fine work written by Dr. Kenyon Wilson, a low brass “pro” with several wonderful works for trombone ensemble to his name. All parts are in bass clef, very tuneful, relatively easy rhythms, great harmonies. There is simple mixed meter used throughout. The work demands great legato playing; judicious use of rubato will yield a very musical performance indeed. Written in 2 four-part choirs, range is BB flat – b flat1. 

BoneWeek Fanfares, Brad Edwards. There are at least 7 different fanfares on Dr Edwards’ Brad Edwards website, available for free download. Various degrees of difficulty, Most all the fanfare parts are, to my recollection, in bass clef. You’ll need to conduct these, and they are typically medium-advanced in terms of difficulty. Also, you’ll need at least one bass trombone, probably 2, to perform the works well. Still, good website. You’ll probably find some free downloads, as well as works for purchase,  for smaller chamber groups as well. Dr. Edwards is the trombone professor at Arizona State University, a great pedagogue, and author of many pedagogical texts. (I highly recommend all serious trombone students get his Simply Singing and Lip Slurs books, for example.) 

Octagon, Rich Woolworth, Fahrenheit Music, 2002. Available free from the composer.   This is a cool piece, written by the composer to supply a short fanfare for a trombone choir concert, premiered by the “T-Bones Rare,” a group Mr. Woolworth conducted in South Dakota. Mr. Woolworth calls for 6 tenors and two basses, although you could get by with one bass only on part 8. Range is BB flat – b flat1. All Parts are in bass clef. The composer recommends a video of the Madison Area Trombone Ensemble performing 'Octagon.'If you listen to it you’ll hear that you probably want to put some fp markings on the longer notes so the counterpoint doesn’t get buried. This will work well for a high school ensemble and above. A fine work, and did I mention it’s free?  Mr. Woolworth is a freelance trombonist, (as well as a composer of jazz ensemble music suitable for high school and above, published by Matrix Music - FYI). You can find him on the Trombone Forum, on Twitter, or contact him at

Machinery, Stuart P. O’Neil, now available from Cherry Classics Music. This work is scored for six trombones and two percussionists. Mr., O’Neil, longtime band director at Oskaloosa (KS) High School and friend of mine, has arranged this four-movement suite for trombone ensemble and percussion – “Machine”; “Rush Hour”; “Assembly Line”; “Suspension Bridge”.  Mr. O’Neil uses glissandi throughout, and each part has its own repeating motive(s). Range is moderate (BB flat – b flat1). You can hear this as recorded by the KU Trombone Choir with the composer conducting on this website, and at Cherry Classics

10 Melodious Etudes for Brass Quintet, Marco Bordogni, arranged Nir Fishkin. Cherry Classics Music. Using Bordogni vocalise material, Nir Fishkin has crafted fine brass quintets. Everyone gets a snippet of the tune. Nicely done, playable by good high school groups for sure. 

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, Anton Bruckner, transcribed/edited Stuart P. O’Neil. Cherry Classics. Just in case you don’t have ten trombones to play this piece (see above), Mr. O’Neil has scored this work for brass ensemble. For 3 trumpets, 2 horns, 3 trombones, euphonium, tuba, the piece is scored to be in range of a good high school ensemble. It works REALLY WELL for brass ensemble, is a great introduction to Bruckner, and your students will love playing this. The challenge will be to play in tune and in tone. Phrases are clearly marked. This should be in every band director’s library for solo/ensemble season. With a little bit of work, your students will sound GREAT on this transcription. This would be a great concert opener as well.