Like endurance, flexibility will only improve with regular practice over time.
When practicing lip slurs, always use a metronome and strive for equally spaced notes – in time and steady. Make all the notes equal volume; don’t allow the top note of a lip slur to pop out. If you don’t have a metronome, stop reading now and go buy one…yes, we will still be here when you get back.
Lip slurs are important because they teach you how to navigate all the ranges of the instrument. I like to mix things up a little by adding additional features to lip slurs. For example, here is a lip slur pattern with dynamics added. You can click on the sound file to hear me play it:
Another challenging way to practice lip slurs is to begin with a descending pattern, like this:
Finally, here is a pattern with lip slurs combined with tonguing:
I have found this pattern to be particularly helpful because usually a student is either good at lip slurs or tonguing but not necessarily both. By combining these two elements, the stronger technique pulls the weaker one forward.
All these patterns and more are available in Daily Routines. Simpler, similar patterns are included in the Student Versions of Daily Routines.
Daily Routines provides a systematic way to develop and improve fundamentals. There are 8 routines, each divided into skill categories: long tones, crescendo/diminuendo, flexibility, subito dynamics, resonant low playing, tonguing on one note, tonguing and moving around, high range and low warm-down. Each of the 8 routines is devoted to a particular broad topic, such as Range. Players need only play one routine a day to develop and maintain fundamental skills.
Daily Routines for the Student Trombone Player covers basic topics, including air, ear training and easy fundamental skills. It’s a great way to help young players establish healthy, productive practice habits.