5-Minute Lessons for Pre-Elementary Trumpet or Trombone

Don’t start brass at level 1, start a level ZERO!

Why a pre-elementary book and not a standard elementary book?
Almost every OTHER beginning method book is written for BAND, NOT BRASS!

The first few notes matter.

Most methods starting notes for brass are too low, some are even too high, but 5-Minute Lessons have it just right. By choosing a band-based method, which essentially caters to woodwinds, the results for young brass players can be less than optimal, and sometimes downright disastrous, creating inferior embouchures and habits which can last a lifetime. Our advice? Start Here…

Purchase 5-Minute Lessons by David Brubeck from Cherry Classics.

David Brubeck’s pre-elementary method for trumpet is written for young brass players by a great brass player. It has been presented at the International Trumpet Conference and featured in the Journal of The International Trumpet Guild. Whether you are heading for “Essential Elements”, “Standard In Excellence”, “Yamaha Band Student”, or even “Rubank’s Elementary Method”, start your your journey here!

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This 25 Page Method, includes six Pages of Fundamentals-(The ABC Preludes), 12 Lessons (5-Minute Lessons), AND additional pages of tunes, rhythms, scales, and even sight-reading all geared for the stone-cold, absolute beginner.

CC2881_largeBrubeck is perhaps the only musician to be featured as a soloist at the international conferences of the trumpet, trombone, euphonium, and tuba festivals! He graduated with distinction from Northwestern University where he received training from some of the foremost brass players in the Chicago Symphony, and was the first college musician named by Disney as a three-time All-American. A professional trombonist who performs regularly with the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, Brubeck has performed with the likes of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and The Four Tops. Brubeck also has a lifetime of experience teaching young musicians at advanced levels having conducted the Florida Youth Orchestra and Greater Miami Youth Symphony for more than 25 years, and having studied with many of the finest music educators in the world such as Bennett Reimer and Arnold Jacobs. At the time of this writing, Brubeck has two former trumpet students on scholarship at the United States of America’s National School of the Arts-Interlochen Arts Academy, and two former students playing the Tommy Dorsey Chair in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, just to mention a few..

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REVIEWED! DUO BRASS Recital at the 40th Anniversary Conference of the International Trumpet Guild, Reviewed By ITG Journal

“Brubeck played bass trombone throughout the recital, alongside an all-star cast of trumpeters that included Marc Reese, Craig Morris, Peter Wood, and Jason Carder. The recital featured a wide variety of music, including works by Bach, Beethoven, Dowland, and Gliere, as well as a commission by Ney Rosauro for Brubeck and Morris. Brubeck also arranged jazz charts by Chick Corea and Horace Silver, which further highlighted the power of this duo combination. Brubeck writes opportunities for each player to be the soloist, to accompany, to weave in and out of the melodic texture, and to play as an equal duo member, thus making his music exciting to listen to and play. The recital was a true exhibit of artistry and style by the whole cast of players.” (RG)

The 5-Minute Lessons for Trumpet were first mentioned at this conference, which resulted in an article about the method in the Journal of the ITG

Article Featuring The Brubeck Pre-Elementary 5-Minute Lessons:
Reprints from the International Trumpet Guild® Journal to promote communications among trumpet players around the world and to improve the artistic level of performance, teaching, and literature associated with the trumpet
March 2016 • Page 42

c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com



5-Minute Lesson ABC Preludes: Prelude A, Yawn and Release

by Dr. David William Brubeck

Prelude A and Introduction: Start Here!

A Few Basics Before You Begin.

When you play a brass instrument YOU are the instrument and the trombone is just an amplifier.  You are the instrument because your lips buzz to produce the sound.  Playing a brass instrument is almost like singing with your lips.  

Easy Does It!

In order for your lips to buzz properly, you need a relaxed steady air stream.  (Relaxed air provides the energy for the lips to buzz.)  The ideal breath in (or inhalation) is a yawn, and the ideal breath out (or exhalation) is a sigh. Practice by breathing in for four counts through your nose and then exhaling for four counts through you mouth.  Think of the breath in and out as two halves of one continuous motion.  Let’s try it!

Yawn and Release
Snap your fingers to a steady medium beat and yawn in for four counts (with an open mouth) and then release as a sigh for four counts.

(Yawn In) 1 2 3 4   (Release out)  1 2 3 4      And Repeat.   

Now Relax your body and gently stretch.

Think of allowing the air in and (especially) out. Don’t over do it, a nice easy breath is all you will need.  Your body should be relaxed and loose, but sit or stand up tall.  Try the exercise again.

Do not hold the air. 

Do not push it. 

Do not feel as though you have to fill all the way up. (About 80% is ideal).  

Do not squeeze the air out like blowing up a stiff balloon.

Relax and try another.  

This time count 123 and breathe in where four would be.  Release the sigh for four counts as you count silently.   

(1 2 3), Yawn 

(Release), 1 2 3 4 

 And repeat.  Now gently stretch and take notice of how relaxed and loose your bodies’ muscles feel.


It is important that you consider relaxation and awareness of your body.  The breath in is an ideal time to ‘re-relax’ your body.  This helps to prevent tension from building up as you play.  You are now ready for 5-minute Lesson Prelude B, Buzzing.

c. 2013 David William Brubeck                All Rights Reserved.                                     davidbrubeck.com

5-minute Lesson ABC Preludes: Prelude B, Buzzing

by Dr. David William Brubeck

The lips vibrate (buzz) to produce sound and the placement of the mouthpiece should help the lips buzz freely without restriction.                                                                                                                   

2/3 upper and 1/3 lower, centered L-R
best describes the recommended mouthpiece placement.  Roughly two-thirds (2/3) of the mouthpiece should be covering the upper lip, with one-third (1/3) of the mouthpiece covering the bottom lip.  The mouthpiece should be basically centered in the middle of the lips when considered from left to right (L-R).  Significant adjustments from left to right may be made for teeth, and the L-R setting should feel comfortable.  Keeping as close to 2/3 upper 1/3 lower lip is recommended. 

Spit a ‘Seed’ of Rice                                                                                                                                     The proper formation of the lips (or embouchure) for buzzing may be achieved by imagining to spit a ‘seed’ of rice:                                                                                                                                                                 1.  The ‘corners’ of the lips (to the left and right extremes) will be firm                                                          2.  The chin will be flat, and                                                                                                                               3.  The lips will be gently touching, as if to say ‘M’

Now pretend to spit ‘seeds’ of rice.  Examine your embouchure in the mirror.

Lay Down on the Floor                                                                                                                          Balance your mouthpiece on your lips without using your hands while lying down.  (Remember 2/3 upper and 1/3 lower.)  This is all of the ‘pressure’ that you should feel.  Do not press the mouthpiece into your lips any more than that when you stand to buzz.  Memorize that sensation.  You should also note that the slight pressure applied by gravity is equally balanced on the upper lip L&R and lower lip L&R, like the four tires on an automobile.  As you stand, be sure that you keep the slight pressure even amongst the four ‘tires’.                      

Holding Your Mouthpiece                                                                                                                        Holding the cup of your mouthpiece between your right index finger and thumb, cover most of the end hole with you right pinky.  Take a relaxed breath and sigh through your embouchure-(‘M’, spit a seed of rice).

(Count 1 2 3) Yawn on 4, (Buzz) on 1 2 3 4

Buzz A Song                                                                                                                                                    Now you are ready to ‘buzz’!  Think of any simple song you may know and buzz it!  Hearing the melody before you play, breathing in and out in a relaxed manner, and buzzing what you hear-That’s what playing trombone is all about.  Everything else is secondary.  Your lips are the instrument, as aided by the mouthpiece.  Hear the music, breathe in and buzz it.  Everything else is secondary!

Buzzing Should Be Gentle 

Easy does it, don’t force a lot of air through the mouthpiece.  Practice buzzing simple songs you know on the mouthpiece alone.  Yawn & Release, Spit a Seed of Rice, and buzz!  Try ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Hot Cross Buns’, ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ or a popular tune.

You are now ready for 5-minute Lesson Prelude ‘C’, Making a Beautiful Sound.

c. 2013 David William Brubeck                All Rights Reserved.                                     davidbrubeck.com

5-minute Lesson ABC Preludes: Prelude C, Making a Beautiful Sound

by Dr. David William Brubeck 

 Assembling Your Trombone

Your trombone is divided in to three basic parts: the mouthpiece, the slide, and the bell section.  Begin by gently turning the mouthpiece as you insert it into the (unthreaded) receiver of the slide.  Join the bell section to the slide at approximately a right angle-(90 degrees).

Stand-Up Straight, Sit-Up Straight

Good posture is a big plus in playing your trombone.  By sitting or standing correctly, you will allow for easier breathing and avoid interference with the smooth, relaxed motion of the slide.

 String Puppet

Stand up straight.  Use your right thumb and index finger to lightly pull a strand of hair from the crown of your head.  (The crown is often the first part abandoned by a bald spot!)  Pretend that you are a puppet, and pull yourself up by that strand of hair.  Though your skeleton is now erect, you should try to avoid unnecessary muscle tension in your body.  Imagine being ‘tall and flabby’.

 Smell the Grapefruit & Make a Triangle.

Standing up straight, bring your hands together with the fingertips touching about six inches from your nose, as if smelling a grapefruit.  This is a good basic arm position and should roughly form two sides of an imaginary triangle with your arms.  

Left Hand Position
With your Left Hand (LH), form an imaginary pistol.  Keep this pistol shape in your left hand as you grasp the trombone: your LH thumb should hook over the bell brace, while your LH index finger points to just below the cup of the mouthpiece.  The remaining three LH fingers curl gently around the first slide brace.  Important: all of the weight of the trombone is held by the left arm and by resting on the shoulder. 

 Bring the Trombone to You

Standing up straight, practice bringing the trombone to you.  Do not adjust to it.  Bring it to you.  Remember 2/3 upper 1/3 lower. Review the appropriate posture and, using only the left hand, practice bringing the trombone to you and holding all of the weight of the instrument in only your left hand and by resting on your left shoulder. (When sitting down, simply stand up straight first, and then sit, imagining that you are standing from the waist up.)

Practice: lift the trombone up and put it back down with all of the weight in the LH.  Remember to stand up straight, and bring the trombone to you.  Repeat.

 2-Finger Grip, Palm Facing You-Not the Floor

Grasp the slide brace between two fingers of your right hand (RH), and the thumb with the palm facing you (not the floor).  This allows for the greatest range of motion.  

 The Elbow is the Goalie, Keep It In the Middle

Standing up straight, all weight in the LH, with the 2-finger grip, extend the slide just beyond the bell (approximately 4th position), this is your basic Right Arm (RA) position.  If you imagine the entire trombone slide (from 1st to 7th),  as a soccer net the elbow should be considered the goalie.  By positioning your ‘home position’ or ‘goalie’, in 4th you can access the whole slide easily.  Avoid the trap of the ‘home position’ of the elbow being in 1st position.

 Make a Beautiful Sound and Then Learn What to Do With It!                                                                 This is the motto of the most famous bass trombonist, “first get a good sound and then learn what to do with it”!  In the same vein, while others spoke of sustained notes as long tones, a great tubist spoke of them as “quality tones”.  Now is the time to take every thing from all three preludes and just make a beautiful sound on your Tromba trombone. 

Inside the Mouth                                                                                                                                                                    If you practiced spitting a seed of rice, the tongue should take care of itself.   Think of just the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth as you say  ‘dOH’.  Bite your pinky finger gently to make sure that your teeth are separated about a centimeter.  Think of blowing warm air on your hand.  Blow hot wet air on your hand now.  Don’t tongue between the teeth, and do not stop the air with the tongue.  Blow hot wet air on you palm now and say dOH dOH dOH lightly.

‘Earmagination’ tm & Re-Relax During the Breaths and Rests  

Take time to imagine and describe the sound you want to achieve.  Sing each note and buzz it before you play it.  Re-relax as you take each breath.  Try to activate and use each of the good habits from the ABC Preludes.  By ‘glissing’ or smearing into each long or ‘quality tone’, we believe that you are more likely to be relaxed.

Enjoy your Journey!

Let’s make the world a more musical place. Congratulations.  You are now ready for 5-Minute Lesson No. 1.

c. 2013 David William Brubeck                   All Rights Reserved.                                     davidbrubeck.com

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