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Orchestral Excerpts for the Tenor Trombonist: Ride of the Valkyrie

Elliot Chasanov  -
Professor of Trombone, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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  As simple a passage as it seems, "The Ride" is one of the most regularly asked excerpts, often used to weed out the field of auditionees.

In order to prepare this excerpt, I suggest starting with several recordings. Be sure to note tempi, style of articulation, rhythmic accuracy, and placement of accents. After listening with score in hand, start practicing the excerpt slowly, with a metronome or a Dr. Beat, setting the metronome on a subdivision of eighth notes.

Another helpful tool is a multi-speed tape recorder (even an inexpensive micro-cassette can help a great deal). Tape yourself with the metronome running, then listen back at full & half speeds to your accuracy of 16th note placement and accents (repeat taping often with and without metronome).

The most common errors made in preparing the excerpt are:

  1. Playing the pickup eighth as a duple subdivision, rather than a triple subdivision.
  2. Swallowing" the sixteenth note through poor articulation.
  3. Misplacing the accent.
  4. General placement of 16th.
To aid & stylistic rhythmic accuracy, I would suggest practicing the passage several ways:
  • Practice pitches as straight eighth notes (without dotted rhythm) to set the flow of the passage.
  • Practice as written, substituting a rest for the dotted eighth downbeat.
  • Practice as written omitting the 16th to help establish accent & flow.

Remember, this music is a depiction of horses galloping and needs to "ride" forward, so don't let it sound stagnant. Horses don't generally gallop in place (or backward).