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Learn To Practice – Step 3: Rhythm Positions

by Norlan Bewley

Now that you know the rhythm and the positions, you are going to practice putting them together. You are going to teach the rhythm to your positions so you can move them to the right position at the right time. This sounds very simple, but it is harder to do than it looks.

To do rhythm positions, say the slide position numbers out loud while you move your slide to the correct positions IN RHYTHM. You must say the numbers out loud. This is a timing and coordination exercise, so you must say the numbers out loud to tell if you are matching them and your slide positions to the rhythm. Use a slow tempo at first so you have more time to think and keep the rhythm correct. Try this musical example:

This sounds easy, but it is not. If you have trouble with this, it is perfectly normal at first. Remember when you learned to ride a bike? Looks easy, but it takes coordination and skill that must be developed. So does this. Keep doing the rhythm positions and your timing and coordination will get better and better. Use it on all of your music so that you begin to master the slide.

As you get better at rhythm positions, you will begin to notice that your slide seems to know where to go automatically as you read the notes and say the position numbers. This is your goal! You want to build your trombone reflexes so that when you read a note your slide automatically goes to the correct position IN RHYTHM.

This will make it much easier to play the notes since your slide will know where to go, allowing you to focus more on playing the notes with a great sound. It is hard to play the notes when you are struggling with your slide positions. Do rhythm positions all the time until you get really good at them. As you progress, you will only use them for difficult spots in your music.

Copyright Norlan Bewley 1999

Learn To Practice – Step 1: Say In Rhythm, Stay In Rhythm
Learn To Practice – Step 2: Identify The Notes
Learn To Practice – Step 3: Rhythm Positions
Learn To Practice – Step 4: Practice In Bite-Size Pieces
Learn To Practice – Step 5: Intelligent Repetition
Learn To Practice – Step 6: Keep Going!
Learn To Practice – Step 7: Learn At Your Own Pace