Big Bad Wolf – 15 Easy Unaccompanied Solos for Trombone By Paul Austin Kelly (For beginning players*) *I’m mostly following the ABRSM key and time signature guidelines for Grades 1 & 2 in these compositions, while varying musical styles, beats and rhythms as much as possible.
1. Riff-Raffin’ has a strutting melody that outlines the C major scale, while still using a couple of accidentals to keep things interesting. This offers articulation practice of staccato versus accented notes.
2. A Minor Mirror – This second piece closely mirrors the melodic structure of the first, except in A minor. It uses a A# to reflect the minor mode.
3. Weird Waltzing An odd little Bb major tune in 3/4 time. Staccato and slurred notes feature here, as well as crescendo markings.
4. Breakfast in Chinatown is composed around the Mongolian Chinese, or Pentatonic scale, giving it that quintessential Eastern flavour. In a major key, but ending on a minor note, this offers a chance to practice delicate, clean staccato notes, and accented low Cs.
5. West of the Rio Grande has an American flavour, reminiscent perhaps of Aaron Copland’s music. It should be played majestically, with a fine legato except where otherwise notated.
6. The Old Dark House was inspired by old classic horror films, this minor melody relies on attention to dynamics and articulation markings for its creepiness.
7. My Hamster’s Got The Blues is a slow blues solo with lots of ‘blue notes’ thrown in for flavouring. Really lean in on those Abs and G#s, and especially that one C# in bar 5, to make this piece sound properly tired.
8. Oh, What A Fine Day for Sailing – A very happy tune in 6/8 time, suggestive of rolling on the waves. A seamless legato and a warm, rich tone is necessary for this piece.
9. I Fell Asleep in Chapel – The trick here is to get into the dreamy weirdness of the 5/4 time signature. Play this sleepy melody smoothly and quietly, except for the light little staccato notes. Try to imagine your head is nodding as you try so hard to stay awake, while the last 6 notes are evidence that you’ve failed. Zzzzzzzzz………
10. One More Time on the Trampoline needs to have a steady rocking beat, and tight, clean semiquavers on this one. Be aware of the accented syncopation in bars 2, 6, 14 & 16, and hit them hard for maximum effect. In E major with an accented ‘stinger’ top E at the end.
11. Have You Ever Seen A Penguin Eat A Polar Bear? A march in 2/4 time in the key of B-flat major. Its middle section features some ragtime syncopation, so play those crotchets in bars 17 & 19 nice and short, as notated.
12. Waltz for Crow – Crows are timid creatures–always flying off at the slightest noise, but relentlessly returning to wherever there’s food to be had. Follow the dynamic markings carefully, and pay special attention to the difference between staccato and tenuto markings (lines over the notes), which in this case means to give those notes their full value, but with a slight emphasis.
13. Imp features two time signatures, alternating between 2 time and 3 time. As its name implies, it should be played with a sprightliness, as quickly as possible but never so fast that you can’t play it cleanly. Start slowly and work up to tempo, with strict regard to accents and staccatos.
14. I’d Like to Stay – imagine this tune played by a music box and you’ll come close to the essence of this piece. Always long, smooth legato notes except for the staccato in the last bar, and follow the tempo changes–the ritardando in bar 11 is followed by un poco meno mosso, meaning a little less movement. 15. Lullaby for Zeke – As with all lullabies, the idea is to lull someone to sleep. So, go gently–smooth, and easy, and never too loud. The part that may need the most practice is playing the higher notes without making them stand out.