Kleinhammer Soft Exercise

Perhaps the greatest individual trombone lesson I received was from Ed Kleinhammer, former bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony. For the younger guys/gals who don't know who this is, check out some of the great recordings from the CSO/Solti era that made the CSO brass section so legendary. It is pretty awesome!

During my lesson, Mr. Kleinhammer shared a really great exercise with me to help develop my soft playing. Set your metronome to quarter equals 60 bpm. Take a breath, articulate a note of your choice and hold it for 8 counts at a piano dynamic. Rest 4 counts and then do the same thing at pp. Then rest 4 counts and start your last long note with an air start. Hold the note at pp for 8 counts and then continue holding the note for as long as you can while making the most beautiful decrescendo possible. The goal is to let the note fade away seamlessly. For just one moment in time, there should be a question as to whether you are still playing or not. Repeat this exercise on a few different notes to make sure you are able to do this well in all ranges.