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.
In Daily Routines there is an entire routine devoted to flexibility in which we explore some unusual patterns and more difficult permutations of lip slurs. #2, for example, requires lip slurs and dynamic changes at the same time. Here is a sound file of me playing the first part of this drill, with the music so you can follow along as you listen:
Another challenging way to practice lip slurs is to begin with a descending pattern, like this:
In Daily Routines, some of the topics are layered on top of one another. For example, this excerpt comes from the flexibility section of the articulation routine. In it, you must embed tonguing within the lip slur:
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.