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What Is a Tenor Trombone?

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson

A tenor trombone is a brass instrument which features a sliding mechanism to change the note produced. The range of the instrument differentiates it from other types of trombone such as the bass trombone, the alto trombone, and the soprano trombone. The E found below the bottom of the bass clef is the lowest note that can be produced on the tenor trombone. Most players can produce a note as high as the B flat above middle C, but some experienced players can reach even higher notes. As with all brass instruments, the noise on a tenor trombone is produced by the player buzzing his or her lips into the mouthpiece.

Notes are altered on a tenor trombone — and other types of trombone — in a different way to most brass instruments. Instead of valves to alter the note by a set interval, trombones feature sliding mechanisms which alter the note. Trombonists can play more notes than most brass players because the slide allows for more precise alteration of the notes. The sliding mechanism changes the effective length of the instrument in the same way valves do, but do so with more precision. Ear training is often required to help trombonists identify when they have reached a specified note.

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Man playing a guitar

The tenor trombone is easily recognizable. The instrument features a large, flared bell on the left hand side and a sliding mechanism on the right. The slide is found directly in front of the mouthpiece of the instrument, and is long with a curved end. Two horizontal bars in front of the mouthpiece are used to alter the length of the slide.

Different types of trombone have different ranges. The tenor trombone is the most common trombone in orchestras, and has a range from the E below the bass clef to the B flat just above middle C. F-attachments can be added to the tenor trombone for increase the range down to the C below the bass clef. Bass trombones can produce even lower notes, down to the second F below the bass clef. The alto trombone can produce a note up to the G above middle C.

Brass instruments are a family of musical instrument constructed from brass. The sound is produced on all brass instruments by air being pushed through buzzing lips into the mouthpiece. Most brass instruments have valves which alter the length of the tubing and therefore the note. B flat is the standard key for all brass instruments, but instruments can be found in different keys. Some examples of brass instruments are trumpets, trombones, and tubas.

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Discussion Comments


@heavanet- Anyone who wants to learn some extra tips for playing the tenor trombone can also find some good information online. This is especially beneficial for individuals who can't afford a trombone instructor.


My niece plays the tenor trombone in band, but also takes private lessons. It is a complex instrument, so anyone interested in learning to play would benefit from lessons from someone with experience playing it.

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