On tenor trombone, I have an issue playing the G above staff (concert pitch bass clef). My attack is really ugly, crackling. I more than often miss it, playing either on 2+ position or 4th position.

It's really annoying because I can reach a rather clean G-flat (on 3+ or 5) but also A-flat (on 3), and even A and B-flat (not perfect but way better and more consistent than my G). I've been practicing this note a lot recently, trying to solve the issue, by doing the following :

  • I reinforced my A-flat and G-flat with various standard exercises.
  • Always using a tuner, I try to get used to the G by sliding from A-flat or G-flat.
  • During the day, whenever I can, I even listened to G being played by a tuner.
  • And of course I'm playing various "high range" exercises on G. The "Broken Intervals" by Jason Sulliman worked well for me on other notes.

At this point I think my issue might be at least in part just in my mind. Did anybody ever have a similar issue ? Would you have some advices ?

  • Do you mean concert pitch bass clef or Bb transposing treble clef? It makes a difference to what "G above the stave" actually means. Jan 18 '21 at 12:48
  • @BrianTHOMAS I meant concert pitch bass clef. No judging here from my part I'm truly just curious : with tenor trombone being a non-transposing instrument, i.e. I read G, I play G, it 'sounds' G in concert pitch (as far as I understand), why would a tenor trombone speak in "Bb transposing treble clef", is this something usual ? Jan 18 '21 at 22:30
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    In UK Brass Bands, Tenor Trombones play treble clef Bb transposing parts. Written middle C (first ledger line below the treble clef stave) is performed in first position and sounds concert Bb second line up bass clef stave. Somewhat illogically, Brass Band Bass Trombone is still notated concert pitch and bass clef… Jan 19 '21 at 11:05
  • @BrianTHOMAS thanks for the info, I had no idea! Jan 19 '21 at 21:31

Is this a quality instrument? No leaks? (check the water key.) A brass instrument CAN have a 'bad note', though it's more common on valved instruments which have to be designed to be in tune. No such restriction on trombone where we have the choice of choosing the optimum slide position - different for every note if necessary!

Is it the same using another mouthpiece, another instrument (though it might be difficult to borrow these to try in these times of the virus)?

In the days when Denis Wick (he of the mutes) was London's prime dealer in second-hand trombones as well as principal trombone in the LSO, I remember a student complaining that an instrument he'd just bought had no high C. Denis picked it up and blew a succession of that note, loud, soft and everything in-between. 'It has now!' he said. It was difficult to argue the point.

Play that high G loud. Several times. LOUD. You might find it falls into place.

Also - you say your high A and B♭ are 'not perfect'. So work up to the C and D! When B♭ stops feeling like a big deal you might find the G a lot easier.

  • Thanks for the advices, I will try that. The trombone has no leaks and is a quality one (I think), A.Courtois symphony 400, I've had it for 15 years or so now, and it was second hand, but it's still in a very good shape. He does need a revision, but I don't think the issue is with the trombone ^^ Jan 18 '21 at 1:28

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