Preservation Hall Lessons – New Orleans Trombone Technique Lesson with Preservation Hall trombonist Freddie Lonzo

Trombone Technique

GRADE: 9-12
GENRE: Traditional Jazz
TOPIC: Trombone
DISCIPLINE: Harmonizing Instruments


In this lesson, students will be introduced to New Orleans techniques for performing on the Trombone. Students will demonstrate how to incorporate the functions and techniques into their performance. 



  • Demonstrate body posture, hand positioning, and embouchure techniques. 
  • Apply techniques for warming up on the Trombone.
  • Demonstrate proper functions and techniques for playing New Orleans music. 



National Core Arts Standards

Music – Harmonizing Instruments, Anchor Standard 5 Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.
Music – Harmonizing Instruments, Anchor Standard 6 Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.



Students should have knowledge of an instrument and an understanding of the lines and spaces on the musical staff. Teachers should review the lesson resources, media, and websites prior to launching the lesson.





  1. Tell students that in order to develop a full tone on the Trombone they must adopt proper instrument techniques. The “Getting Ready” techniques are posture, embouchure, and hand positioning. 


  1. Display the “Getting Ready” slide on page 3 of the presentation, Trombone Technique.  Demonstrate and define posture, embouchure, and hand positioning for students.  Posture is the proper way to sit in your chair. Tell students they should have their feet flat on the floor, back straight-up, seated on the edge of the chair, and chin up and parallel to the floor. Embouchure is the way you position your mouth, lips around the mouthpiece. For the Trombone the center of your lips should be centered with the mouthpiece hole. Hand positioning is the placement of your hands and fingers on the Trombone. Starting with your elbows in a comfortable position, place your left thumb on the side of the bell brace. Then position your left index finger on the mouthpiece receiver with the remaining fingers wrapped around the first slide brace. With your right hand on the second slide brace, place your right thumb, index, and middle finger between the second slide brace. The right hand should be flexible and relaxed.


  1. Reinforce the selection of a mouthpiece with students. Tell students the mouthpiece is designed in several sizes, but size 12C is recommended. A person’s body structure and lip shape may help in determining the best mouthpiece fit. 


  1. Allow time for students to practice the techniques. Display slide 4 of the presentation, Trombone Technique, to reinforce the importance of practice in the video, Getting To Know Our Instrument. Facilitate through the room providing feedback to students. 



  1. Seat students in a circle, with Instructor in the center. Tell students they are going to practice making a sound, prior to inserting the mouthpiece. Model and explain to students how to use the technique of “Buzzing.” Apply the mouthpiece to your lips, lips firm and centered but slightly relaxed, firm chin (flat and pointed), breathe into the diaphragm by inhaling through the sides of your mouth, then commence to firmly buzz with and without the mouthpiece. 


  1. Display the “Trombone Anatomy” slide on page 5 of the presentation, Trombone Technique, to review the anatomy of the Trombone with students while they assemble the instrument. Have students gently insert the outer slide into the inner slide. Then insert the mouthpiece into the receiver of the Trombone. 


  1. Once the students have their Trombone ready, review the technique procedures: posture, embouchure, and hand position. Allow time for students to review the techniques and get into position.


  1. Display the “Warm Up” slide on page 6 of the presentation, Trombone Technique. Tell students they are now ready to make a sound. Model and explain to students how to warm up. Warm-up with Long Tones: one breath, soft to loud, and loud to soft. 


  1. After students are warmed up, introduce techniques unique to Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Display the “Functions and Techniques” on slides 7-11 of the presentation, Trombone Technique. New Orleans musicians are known for implementing the following instrument functions in Traditional Jazz.
    • Horn Section Foundation: The Trombone plays a supporting role in the horn section. The Trombone plays the bass tones of the chord, glissandos, and growling.
    • Improvisation: The process of more than one instrument playing a solo. Display slide 8 of the presentation, Trombone Technique, to hear an example of Trombone Improvisation
    • Harmony: How chords are used in jazz music. Display slide 9 of the presentation, Trombone Technique, to hear an example of Trombone & Harmony
    • Tailgating: The name tailgate comes from the late 19th century when the trombonist in jazz bands would often perform sitting on or over the “tailgate” of a horse-drawn wagon or truck to avoid the Trombone hitting or injuring a fellow Musician. Display slide 10 of the presentation, Trombone Technique, to hear an example of The Role of the Trombone: Tailgating
    • Growl & Glissando: A Growl is humming and or whistling with forcefulness into the Trombone as you are playing. A Glissando is notated on sheet music as a curly or snaky line leading from one note to another by simply using the slide. Display slide 11 of the presentation, Trombone Technique, to hear an example of the Frontline: Trombone and Trumpet growl and glissando. 


  1. Have students practice the functions and techniques of Traditional Jazz. Allow students time to practice at home and rehearse at school. 



  1. The teacher should assess students’ knowledge of Trombone techniques by demonstrating posture, embouchure, and hand positioning. Observe and provide feedback as students display how to warm up and apply New Orleans-style music functions and techniques.



Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.

Louis Ford, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Content Producer




Animated GIFs