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The importance of the 3rd valve slide

by Allen J. Venezio on May 8, 2010

As a middle school band director, one of the biggest problem I have seen with intermediate trumpet players is the lack of the use of the 3rd valve slide. Of course, I say this, but I’ve seen this problem at the high school level, collegiate level and the professional level as well.

The 3rd valve slide on the trumpet has a major function (other than enabling us to play notes that require the extra tubing afforded us by the slide itself). The extension of the 3rd valve slide allows us to fine tune C#s and Ds below the staff, which, by nature, are inherently sharp. Failure to pull this slide out often results in extreme intonation problems, especially when playing with other musicians.

I have played many professional engagements and rehearsals where the cats next to me don’t use the 3rd valve slide and I have to fight all night long to try and account for this in my own tuning. Players who don’t take control of their instrument make it much harder for all of us in the section.

But, I digress. I opened this blog entry talking about middle school students. It is VITAL to teach middle school students that the fingering of low D is 1-3-slide, not just 1-3. Likewise, low C# is 1-2-3-slide. They have to understand that the use of the 3rd valve slide is NOT OPTIONAL. If this is ingrained in their heads from the beginning, you, as a teacher, will save them (and all of those who play with them) a lot of grief.

So, to recap, use the 3rd valve slide. PERIOD. And, while you’re at it, empty the spit valve once in a while too, please.

Until next time, keep blowin’ baby!

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