The trombone has been an essential part of many genres of music for centuries now, but how much do you really know about the instrument? Today, we’re sharing 10 fun facts about the trombone!
1. The Trombone is Rather Unique!
The trombone is part of the brass family of instruments which also include the saxophone, French horn, tuba, trumpet, and more. What makes the trombone so unique is that it’s the only brass instrument to rely on a metal slide to change the pitch of the sound. The rest of the brass instruments use metal valves.
2. It’s Older Than You May Think
When most people think of trombones, they probably think of jazz music of the 20th century or classical orchestras. But the history of the trombone is much deeper than you probably realize! In fact, the trombone was once called the sackbut which is an early version of the instrument from the mid-to-late 1400’s. The trombone was typically used to announce military presence (there would actually be trombone players standing watch in city towers to alert the city that important people had arrived) as well as for religious events. In fact, the first documented public use of trombones was in 1468 during the Duke of Burgundy’s wedding!
3. Trombones Are Harder to Play For Left-Handed People
Sorry lefties, trombones are actually harder to play for you! This is because trombones are built to sit on the left shoulder and be played with the right hand. This means that all left-handed players have to teach themselves to play with their right hand. While it may seem difficult in theory, lefties are used to having to use both hands to achieve different tasks throughout their lives so it’s not as much of a challenge as you may think!
4. Beethoven Did It First!
It’s no surprise that Beethoven was a pioneer in composing and is the most famous composer in history, but did you know he was the first to include the trombone in a symphony? That’s right! Beethoven wrote a trombone part in his Fifth Symphony which was first played in 1808. Before he included the trombone in his music, the instrument was usually looked at as a religious instrument. Beethoven went on to use the trombone in several of his other works which led to the instrument being used widely in orchestras after!
5. Trombones Are Good For You?
Trombones are made from brass which is a metal mixture of copper and zinc. Both copper and zinc are essential for your bodily function and health. They help reduce inflammation, promote a good night sleep, and more. So if you think about it, you’ll technically eat an entire trombone in your lifetime and your body will thank you for it!
6. Who Is the Most Famous Trombone Player?
Over the years, there have been dozens of extremely talented and influential trombone players. So while there isn’t one specific ‘best’ or ‘most famous’ player, J.J Johnson comes pretty close! J.J. Johnson is one of the most well-known trombone players in the world and is credited for bringing the bebop style to the instrument. J.J. was extremely influential for all genres of music and although he spent much of his later years composing, the trombone was still a part of his daily routine!
7. It Takes Almost 2 Day to Make a Trombone
Yes, you read that right! It takes about 40 hours for a trombone to be made. This includes the manufacturing of each piece, setting the balance of the instrument, getting it ready for the lacquer, dipping it, and then polishing it up. Talk about dedication!
8. It’s Made of Three Main Sections
The trombone overall has about 9 parts but they’re all broken down into three main components–the bell section, the mouthpiece, and the slides. The mouthpiece is a funnel that you blow into to make a sound. There are different mouthpiece sizes based on preferences and experience. The bell is the flared piece at the end of the long tube (which is called the bore.) The bell is meant to amplify and project the sound of the trombone. Lastly, are the slides. The slides are responsible for changing the pitch of the sound.
9. Trombones Require a Fair Bit of Maintenance
If you’re not up to taking care of your trombone regularly, this may not be the instrument for you. The trombone requires regular cleaning and maintenance to keep its lovely sound. Aside from cleaning, you need to make sure the slide is always well-lubricated and tuning slide greased. Doing this avoids damage and keeps the parts moving smoothly. If you’re not sure how to take care of your trombone, make sure to reach out to a professional or do your research online to help!
10. They Require Some Strength
When you think of playing an instrument, physical strength most likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, when you pick up a trombone, you’ll understand why it’s so important to consider! A trombone weighs anywhere from 1.3-3.2 kg. (or 3-7 pounds) which may not seem heavy in theory, but you have to be able to hold it for extended periods of time while playing! To give you an idea of how heavy it is to play a trombone, try holding out your arms in front of you for a few minutes. Your arms are a similar weight to a trombone so it will give you an idea of how heavy they actually are.
Trombone Lessons in Toronto
Ready to try your hand at learning how to play the trombone? We’d love to chat with you further here at Greater Toronto Music School! Our trombone instructors are highly educated and will create lesson plans based on your skill level, music interests, and more. During our trombone lessons in Toronto, we will teach you music theory, proper technique, reading, and more! Reach out to us today to get started on your trombone journey!