The Summerglen Files

Music, Creativity, and Everyday Life at Summerglen Music in Raleigh, NC

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Why Trombonists Should Go For A Run

March 1st, 2010 · 1 Comment


When I was in high school, my trombone teacher had an endless supply of laments about the weak state of my lungs (and tone). Unfortunately for both of us, his instructions to “breathe deeper” and “fill up my lungs” lesson after lesson weren’t exactly getting results. But what DID get results was the day he got fed up with my wimpy long tones, threw up his hands and said, “Put down your horn and take a lap around the block!”

This was perhaps one of the best trombone lessons I ever had, simply because it taught me what filling the lungs and supporting the tone really means. When you run, you’re asking your body to do some hard work–and your body needs lots of oxygen to get that work done. Your lungs expand, you breathe more deeply, and you naturally support your breath a little more than normal. Over time, this exercise beefs up your lungs, and helps you understand exactly what your lungs feel like when they’re full. And knowing how to fill your lungs is one of the keys to playing trombone beautifully.

Breathing exercises and running, even though they don’t involve the horn at all, have been some of the most effective things I’ve done to become a better trombonist. I started out with some wimpy lungs, but after years of exercise, they’ve become powerful and strong (and my tone has followed suit!) The greatest thing about this is that YOU can beef up your lungs, too. Just put down your horn and take a lap around the block. :)

Tags: music education · Practice Tips · staying healthy · Trombones

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Carol Baxter // May 12, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    You had a very wise teacher. This is great advise for musicians of any age. I was not and am not athletic, but I love to swim. After a brief time of not playing, I needed to get back into playing shape to participate in a newly created trombone ensemble in my new home town in TX. I had a backyard pool at the time, and was swimming laps every day. Besides fitness walking, swimming is a great way to build up the lungs and endurance. The practice of Yoga is also helpful in developing deep breathing techniques, and building physical strength. Do you swim or practice Yoga? I believe every musician needs to take up a sport, or get involved in physical activity at some level as part of their practice routine. Happy and healthy breathing!

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