Intonation Practice for Trombonists
prepared by David Schwartz

Comments from Trombonists

David Schwartz has put together some very nice warmups. A great way to start the day, very logically thought out. I highly recommend them to all.
Joseph Alessi, New York, New York, Soloist, Teacher, and Principal Trombone, New York Philharmonic Orchestra

The use of recent technology has given musicians a great deal of material to pour over in the practice room and classroom, from play-along jazz and classical recordings to computer music programs where the user becomes the soloist. Trombonists now have one of the most accessible and practical products for developing intonation and technique in Breakfast Intonation Practice for Trombonists, by David A. Schwartz. Breakfast... is a 30-track CD and 18-page book which contain 18 different exercises in all keys. Additionally, one can make use of the recorded drone tracks by inventing an infinite number of tuning exercises and patterns. The CD also has recorded demonstrations of just intonation versus equal temperament and variations on the placement of tuning note "A."
All of the accompaniments to the exercises have been adjusted to pure harmony. They begin with scales and thirds in all major and minor keys to be played along with a piano sound and against a drone. These accompaniments are great for basic technique and intonation while keeping scale practice interesting. Breakfast... then moves on to a series of exercises from Arban's Famous Method. Using the CD accompaniment makes these exercises more interesting than playing without it, particluarly because of the chordal background. As many Arban exercises outline chords, the value of having them sounded while playing these exercises is immeasurable. Mr. Schwartz has made further use of Arban's exercises by recording tracks of drone notes organized specifically to accompany the Arban material without the chordal accompaniment. Practicing this way helps the player hear consistency of slide placement much better than when playing as a soloist. The drone tracks can also be used for other work such as interval practice. The last portion of Breakfast... is dedicated to slower scales for careful tuning (in pure harmony, of course) with a chorale accompaniment.
Breakfast... is motivational and brings a breath of fresh air into technical practice on the trombone. I have no doubt that consistent practice with Breakfast... will benefit one's intonation, scale knowledge and memorization, slide technique, and other skills. Bravo to David Schwartz for making a product that can motivate students to practice scales and Arban's exercises up to speed and is a welcome refresher course for professionals!
Richard Begel, Richmond, Indiana, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra

Dave, Many thanks for sending along your latest publication Breakfast. You've done it again ... it's a winner!
John W. Coffey III, Norwood, Massachusetts

David, I just got your books in the mail, and my first impression is WAY TO GO! This looks great, man! It's about time someone put together something as useful and helpful as this. Good job, and thank you very much!
Stephen Dunkel, Washington, D.C., Third Trombone/Bass Trombone, Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra

Breakfast is a great book for intonation studies. I found that the major, minor, and dim7 arpeggios to be most helpful with the CD. This is a great book to work on for intonation at any level.
Preston Hardage Alexandria, Virginia, Trombonist, U. S. Marine Band (The President's Own)

David, The Breakfast book is great for daily routine practice. I really like the chorales and scales-with-a-drone. REVEALING!! Just a small thought: I suggest that students play slow scales or patterns against the fast scale tracks or drones, just to drive the equal/just thing home. Your explanations of the just intervals are very concise and clear. Actually, they are the best and most practical descriptions I have seen on the subject of intonation. BRAVO!!!!
Alex Iles, Los Angeles, California, Freelance and Studio Musician, Principal Trombonist, Long Beach Symphony

When I play the scales, which are way too fast to start full speed, I just hold the tonic or fifth for the first 4 measures. When the accompaniment starts playing thirds, I play the scale up and down in half notes. This is much better for me, because I can hear the intonation of every note. If a few notes are out of tune, I redo the scale. Eventually I'll try doing the scales and thirds at full speed, but it will probably be more for learning patterns and slide technique instead of getting my pitch centered. Also, when I warm up, I try to have the Bb drone on because my pitch tends to be sharp and it's a pain to bring it down during the scales instead of just starting with correct pitch. It is basically calibrating my ears. The magic is that these scales/arpeggios/intervals don't only help your intonation. If you improve your intonation, your tone will be better and it becomes easier to play music. I usually play the scales either pp or mp to make sure aperture isn't too open and to get a buzz with as little air as possible. I'm not sure if this is the best way, but it works for me.
Kyle Johnson, San Marcos, Texas, Student at Texas State University

I have seen important improvements in my ability to match pitch, blend with others and play in tune... What I have also found interesting, is that I find an improvement in slide speed. Your hand seems to "know" where to go, and stays in a more relaxed state while playing fast passages. For me anyway... I firmly believe that this is an important product for the development of trombone playing at the highest levels.
Gerald Larkins, Seattle, Washington, Trombone Student and Music Educator
1/3/2004, rev. 6/17/2004

After using Breakfast with my entire studio for several months in the fall I noticed a marked improvement in individual and group intonation. I believe that our trombone choir concert was performed at a higher level than usual in part due to Breakfast. There are so many things that one can gain from this book besides a better ear. Bravo!
Robert Lindahl, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, Professor of Music, Central Michigan University

David, I find the drills in Breakfast most suitable for advanced students. The tips are instructive, easy to understand, and appropriate. Your scholarly review of pitch adjustment theory is valuable and commendable.
Thomas O'Halloran, Concord, Massachusetts, Teacher, Conductor and Freelancer

I especially enjoyed exercises 16 and 17, the intervals. The CD only enhanced what these types of excercises have to offer -- a feature that Mr. Arban would certainly have envied. You once told me that you can have the most beautiful tone, but if your slide is not in the right place, your lips must compensate to keep the note in tune, thus, impeding your tone quality. I find this very true with myself. I like my tone, but find that these exercises, when played with the CD, make me concentrate on my slide positioning -- a part of my playing that needs improvement.
Many thanks! And I congratulate you on yet another great exercise book. Sincerely,
Peter Ostrower, Alfred, NY, Student at Ithaca College

David, Breakfast is extremely informative and comprehensive; it must have taken you many long hours of research and work to complete this project! I recommend this book for any trombonist struggling with intonation. And, to anyone who thinks they're not struggling with intonation, chances are that after using your book, they'll discover some improvements that can be made in their own intonation!
I appreciate the calculations shown in the appendix. There is a similar chart in the front of the Marstellar book which is also helpful - it shows intonation tendencies of different partials. I've been recommending to my students to become familiar with both yours and his. I also have been recommending buzzing the mouthpiece along with the Breakfast CD to ensure that the intonation is right from the ear and embouchure as well as the slide position.
Thank you for publishing such a valuable resource for trombonists. Breakfast will be beneficial for musicians on all instruments. This must have been quite an undertaking for you, but the aid you have provided to individuals struggling with intonation is invaluable!
Stacy Werblin, Naples, Florida

What a wonderful book. If Breakfast doesn't clear up intonation troubles, I don't know what will!
Justin Williams, Rainbow City, Alabama

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