What Is a Trombone Choir?

A trombone choir is a musical ensemble made up primarily of trombone players, if not entirely. The choir should have at least three parts, including first and second trombones, as well as bass, but this is not a strict rule. These groups are a type of brass ensemble because trombones are brass instruments.

Although there is no set size for these groups, the term “choir” usually refers to at least two performers per part, with the connotation leaning toward larger numbers. The number of trombone choir members is determined the instrumentation of the work to be performed as well as the trombone choir director’s preferences. Unless the choir is being assembled for a significant event in which more players are desired for power and overall impact, groups of 25 to 50 are common. This is similar to other groups.

Tenor and bass trombones are the most common instruments in a trombone choir. They may, however, include alto trombones in some cases. Soprano trombones are occasionally used, and some choirs include a tuba or two to help solidify the bass line or blend tone. In trombone choir compositions, composers may use peripheral instruments such as percussion, but the number of peripheral players rarely matches the number of trombonists.

Colleges and universities are one of the most common places to find a trombone choir. The brass departments of the institution’s school of music form these groups, which are often led a trombone professor. Trombonists can hone their ensemble playing skills while earning credit toward a music degree participating in academic trombone choirs. Even though the players are still students, they are capable of putting on high-quality concerts.

Professional trombonists, music educators, and trombone enthusiasts may form a trombone choir if one does not exist in an academic setting. These choirs are created to highlight trombones’ abilities and sounds. These choirs will occasionally enter a recording studio to create CDs and individual tracks. Although the choirs may be compensated for their performances or recording sales, they are usually run entirely volunteers who play for the love of trombone music.

A trombone choir’s sound can be very different. This is due to the wide variety of trombone models available, as well as the trombone’s ability to produce a wide range of sounds, from sweet, mellow melodies to raunchy growls and slides. Large trombone choirs are capable of producing nearly overwhelming volume, so the number of players matters as well. A good trombone choir director, on the other hand, can mentally visualize the sound he wants the players to make and communicate it to them using both technical explanations and imagery.

A noticeable lack of available music is a flaw in trombone choirs. The trombone choir is not an ensemble on which composers have focused their attention in a significant way. As a result, commissioned pieces or arrangements of pieces written for other instruments or ensembles make up a large part of the music trombone choirs perform. Arrangements are frequently created trombone choir directors, who find music they enjoy and adapt it to their specific needs. The irony is that, when combined with the trombone’s versatility, trombone choirs can play everything from Bach to Bill Joel, as well as television and movie themes.