Learn How to Play the Trombone Chromatic Scale in Under 3 Minutes

A chromatic scale is a music scale similar to minor scale, major scale, and pentatonic scale, and has twelve pitches. Each pitch is a semitone above or below the other. Chromatic comes from the Greek word chroma which means color. Whether you are a brass player, play the acoustic guitar or bass trombone, a musical wind instrument player, or are preparing for the all-state band, chromatic scales are essential. Chromatic scales are most commonly used in jazz compositions, as well as composing other modern and atonal music. Chromatic scales are the building blocks and foundation for every musician, no matter what their instrument of choice may be.

trombone chromatic scale

It is exactly the same when playing the trombone—whether you are learning the bass trombone, valve trombone, tenor trombone, or alto trombone—it is essential to learn the chromatic scale. It sounds complicated but you can learn how to play the trombone chromatic scale in under 3 minutes. However, before getting more in depth with the trombone’s chromatic scale, we should first discuss different warm-up techniques for beginners to get them used to their instrument and ready to learn their scales.

  1. Buzz the mouthpiece
  2. Focus on long tone sounds
  3. Tighten and loosen your lips
  4. Scales

What are Music Scales?

Musical scales are series of notes that are ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch. The word scale is Latin meaning ladder and is fundamental to the success of any musician. From these scales, a player can begin to build melodies and harmonies, and the tones of each scale are always ordered according to their different pitches.

Ascending Scale: Increased Pitch

Descending Scale: Decreased Pitch

Trombone Slide Positions

trombone slide positions image

The trombone has seven different slide positions and is different from other brass or woodwind instruments. To find the correct slide position, a trombone player must find the proper intonation. To remember the seven slide positions better, it is good to think of them in group positions rather than individual positions.

The first slide position is all the way in and the easiest to locate and the second position is right next to the first. They should only be half a step apart so you will need to listen so that you can get the sounds right really.

Third sliding position can be found right before the bell of the instrument, and the fourth position is right beyond third. They are on either side of the bell of each other, again, use your ears to listen for the right sound.

The fifth sliding position is played close to the sixth position, and the sixth position could be considered about an arm’s length away from the player. The seventh position is all the way out on the slide. It is harder to reach the seventh position for beginners due to how far they must stretch their arm, but it gets easier with practice.

All of these sliding positions should only be half a step apart and are easier to remember if you categorize and group them.

1st and 2nd Groupings

3rd and 4th Groupings

5th and 6th Groupings

7th alone​

Major Scales of the Trombone

Note

Slide Position

Bb Major

1 6 4 3 1 4 2 1

Eb Major

3 1 4 3 1 3 1 3

F Major

6 4 2 1 6 4 2 1

C Major

6 4 2 1 4 2 4 3

Trombone Chromatic Scale Chart

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

5

4

3

2

1

1

4

3

2

1

3

2

1

3

2

3

2

1

Learn How to Play the Trombone Chromatic Scale in Under 3 Minutes

It is best for a player to begin learning the chromatic scales in levels or partials. Once they master these partials, they can put them together to complete their chromatic scale.

First of all, you should learn how to play a Concert F and be able to produce the seven positions to go from a Concert F as level one down to Concert B. You will then move from a Concert B Flat down to a Concert E and then a Concert B Flat down to a Concert G Flat.

Learning the chromatic scale is vital to the success of a trombone player because it is the first step toward maintaining good tonal support and pitch and helps the musician steadily improve their technique.

The Chromatic Scale-Notes

For this chromatic scale, you will start on a Low E in 7th position and progress to a HighD at the end.

♭= FLAT

♯=SHARP

♮=NATURAL​

Low E in 7th – F—F♯ or G♭—G—G♯ or A♭—A ♮—B♭—B♮ in 7th position—C—C♯ or D♭—D—E♭ or D♯-- E♮—F—F♯ or G♭ in fifth position—G—G♯ or A♭—A♮—B♭—B ♮ in fourth position—C—C♯ or D♭—D—D♯ or E♭—E♮—F—F♯ in third position right before the bell—G close to first position—G♯ or A♭—A♮—B♭—B ♮—C—C♯ or D♭—High D

Conclusion

The chromatic scale is an essential element that needs to be learned to reach success with playing the trombone. The following are a few tips to remember while learning the chromatic scale so that you will be able to complete the scale in under three minutes time and conquer whatever music you are thrown.

  1. It is best to begin learning the chromatic scale in sections or partials. Once each partial is learned, you can put them together and complete the chromatic scale. It is important to listen carefully to find the right notes. Doing this in sections allows you the time to focus on a small portion at once and master it before moving to the next level.
  2. Learn the seven slide positions. Learn how to play a Concert F and then learn the seven slide positions that descend from Concert F down to a Concert B.
  3. Learn the fundamentals of how your trombone works and familiarize yourself with all of its parts. By doing this, you will also learn the sounds that can be produced. It is important to figure out where each note is and learn how to find the correct pitch with your ears, mouth, and hand.
  4. Learn how to sit while playing your instrument. Tighten your abdomen and learn your reach for the sliding positions while you search for your notes.
  5. Finally, after you learn each section of the chromatic scale, reassemble them and practice them daily. Most teachers require you to play the chromatic scale as a warm up.

Once you master every level and learn how to find the proper tone, there should be no problem putting them together and completing your chromatic scale in under three minutes. It is essential to the learning process and will become second nature if you follow the tips above. Being able to play the chromatic scale will also teach the player any flaws there might be with their instrument, and they will perfect a good technique. Any problems can be addressed, and you will gain tonal support and perfect pitch.

For answers to other Frequently Asked Questions about Trombones, visit our Trombone Buyer's Guide.