Repertoire Selection for Young Trombone Students

By Lloyd Edge

Head of Brass and Percussion – Moriah College, Sydney

Lloyd Edge

When faced with students lacking in enthusiasm, the search for quality, stimulating and teachable repertoire suitable for each individual student poses a challenge in itself to teachers.

Repertoire selection is a key factor influencing both a student’s level of enthusiasm and their development. I am a firm believer in selecting repertoire for educational benefit and feel it should always serve the purpose of enhancing a student’s sound and technique. For example, the solo repertoire I select for students will always be tied into developing technical ability, breathing and phrasing, with each work chosen to complement the others.

I also keep in mind students will usually respond enthusiastically when they are challenged by their repertoire.

Beginner students (standard of AMEB grades 1 -4)

For beginner students the AMEB brass books set a good benchmark for early skills development. Works are selected to support the development of the technical requirements for the respective AMEB grades. Many teachers of beginner students unfortunately fall into the trap of relying too heavily on these books to fully develop the student and fail to explore further repertoire available outside of the AMEB guidelines. Teachers should ensure other suitable repertoire is matched with the use of the AMEB books to enhance each student’s learning experience.

For beginner students I recommend trying:

  • Clifford Barnes Trombone Album – Each work in this series of solos for the young player provides lyrical passages followed by a change of tempo to facilitate the development of tonguing and technique. These works are suitable for performance in the lower grade AMEB exams, as well as being great stand-alone repertoire for solo performances in concerts and eisteddfods.

Intermediate students (standard of AMEB Grades 5-6)

I introduce students of this level to a wide range of interesting works to help establish their interpretative abilities as well as their appreciation for a wide variety of genres.

For players of this intermediate level I recommend trying:

  • First Solos for the Trombone Player (arr. Henry Charles Smith) – Contains classical arrangements and introduces the young player to more mainstream repertoire. Try the arrangement of the second movement of Wagenseil’s Concerto which is pitched a fifth lower than the original E flat major version.
  • Solos for the Trombone Player (arr. Henry Charles Smith) – This album features a lovely arrangement of the Arioso from Bach’s BWV 1056, the second movement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Concerto and an Adagio movement from one of Haydn’s cello concertos. These are great works for the development of legato, efficient breathing and tone quality. There are also works of higher difficulty included in this album; students should be encouraged to study Guilmant’s Mourceau Symphonique, a mature musical composition which is excellent for building slide technique and musicianship.
  • Jazz Incorporated (Kerin Bailey) – Consisting of two volumes, this is a great addition by an Australian composer to any student’s repertoire.  I feel it is important to introduce students to Australian compositions, not only to support the composers but also to help create an awareness of what is being produced locally. Pieces like Jumbuck Jive and Stokers Siding introduce the young student to playing in the jazz genre and are very catchy tunes. Book 2 in this edition also includes trios and introduces improvisation.
  • Sonata No. 3 (Galliard) and Sonata in A minor (Marcello) – Both are solid works included in the AMEB’s sixth grade syllabus which provide excellent opportunities to develop intervals and articulation. They also provide a handy introduction to baroque repertoire.

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One response

  1. Thankyou Lloyd for an informative and interesting article with loads of detail set out for all the year groups . This article would make great reading for students and parents of trombone players and I would encourage all to read it.
    Lloyd has not only written about the various repertoires and how to encourage the kids he teaches, he is a living legend in the way he communicates his love of music. Moriah College is extremely fortunate to have him.