Trombone suicide is a type of marching band choreography, involving a line of trombone players in close proximity alternating horn positions. Players typically stand almost shoulder to shoulder, and take turns bending over from the waist or squatting, while standing players turn to the side with their instruments in the former headspace of the neighbouring player. The band's drumline keeps rhythmic cadence throughout.
Risk of collision and injury is the likely reason for manoeuvre's colourful name. Learning and practice may result in "bloody noses, broken noses and hospital trips". The skirting of danger by players and their instruments, as well as the show of dexterity, may also generate cheers and positive feedback from the crowd. This choreography is sometimes referred to as doing "headchoppers", a playful allusion to the trombone motions directed at players' heads; additionally the entire group of individuals doing the movements can also be referred to as headchoppers.[better source needed]
Due to the sometimes rigorous physical nature of the choreography, the instruments may not be played during the suicide, instead being used as props. Actual playing may be intermittently interspersed with fast movements, although players may attempt to preserve the illusion that they are playing throughout by keeping their mouthpieces close to their mouths.
Trombone slides are sometimes locked or taped in place to prevent centrifugal force from flinging them out of the horn while a player is in motion.[better source needed]
"Shooting ducks", the term for angling the instrument upwards when turning to the side, is usually discouraged in favour of keeping trombones parallel with the ground, although it can be employed to compensate for significant height differences between players.
Using an F-attachment on a trombone may increase difficulty during trombone suicide because of the associated increased weight to the instrument; greater weight increases inertia and requires more force to stop and reverse at the speed required to avoid collision.[better source needed]
Other instruments, like marching baritones or trumpets, may also be included in the line. Trombone suicide may be performed by blindfolded players. It may be performed in 1/2 time or doubletime. Players may shuffle their position in the line, scatter, or do other foot and leg choreography interspersed with the classic up-down-right-left or up-down-left-right stationary movements. Some other variations have the trombone players do 360’s and lift their horn over their heads whilst jumping to face behind them. These are called “Brody’s” by China Spring High School, because the first trombone player to practice these was named Brody (Last name Pending).
A number of high school and college bands in the United States are known to or have been recorded performing trombone suicide, either occasionally or regularly:
- Century High School
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- Scramble band
- Moore, J. Steven (2011). Play it from the Heart: What You Learn From Music About Success In Life. R&L Education. pp. 68–69. ISBN 1610483715. Retrieved 11 March 2013. Search this book on
- "Trombone suicides and spirit are what CSU marching band does best". Collegian. September 27, 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down". Fort Collins Coloradoan. December 9, 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "Trombone suicide". The Trombone Forum. 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
- "Trombone Suicides". The Trombone Forum. 2006-05-28. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
- Piccolosuono image of a trombone suicide
- Youtube footage of Liberty Center Marching Band Head Choppers, 1989
- Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School Trombone Suicides
- CSU Trombone Suicides, 2008
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