The Remington warm-up for jazz band

If you're a wind player, particularly a brass player (and ESPECIALLY a trombone player!), then you are probably aware of the Remington warm-up method.  It's probably the most used warm-up method and tuning exercise for band students.  But, just in case you are NOT aware of this method: the idea began with Emory Remington trying to teach his trombone students how to play 1) in tune, 2) with good sound and 3) with a good legato articulation.  Eventually, he developed this exercise (expanded and published by Donald Hunsberger): [slideshare id=1798433&doc=theremingtonwarmupstudies-090801081739-phpapp01&type=d]

Simple, eh?  That's why it's used so often.  The idea is that by limiting the notes to those on the same harmonic partial, the trombone student focuses solely on articulation, sound and slide positioning (tuning).  Because it's an incremental exercise utilizing descending half-steps, it should be easy for a student to hear and understand when each interval is in or out of tune.  At the University of Houston Moores School of Music, the wind ensemble program uses a similar warm-up based on the descending F major scale, a method popularized, and probably initiated by, Director Emeritus (and Texas band legend) Eddie Green.

That being said, you can imagine my challenge directing a bunch of wind ensemble students for their first outing in a jazz ensemble.  In wind band, these students usually only encounter the major, minor and diminished chords; so they're only used to hearing the I-3-5 and sometimes 7 or 9 chord tones.  My goal was to get 15 horn players to start hearing the extended jazz harmonies that rely on 7-9-11-13 chord tones and their varying alterations.  So as a transitional tool, I wrote out the Remington warm-up harmonized in a jazz context.  It's my gift to you, the jazz band directors of the world:

It has proven to be quite useful.  It not only gets the students to hear extended harmony, but it also allows the the rhythm section to participate and work on getting around the keys.  I tried to keep the exercise simple, with each written note occupying only a 1-3-4-5-7-9 chord tone.  This way, it's not too hard a stretch for the horn players to hear how the chord progression relates to the written "melody".  It's also endlessly variable:

  • The exercise can be re-harmonized infinitely and there are numerous substitutions for the chords written here (but I do stress that each variation maintain a chord progression rather than unrelated chords back to back)
  • Sometimes I would have the lower instruments play the roots to even out the balance of 15 horn players to 4 rhythm section players
  • I would often substitute a rhythmic idea for the whole note to work on articulation, style and phrasing with the horns
  • It's also great for music theory pop quizzes: "What chordal tone are we on now? How does this chord progression function?"

I hope this helps, and best of luck to anyone who uses this exercise!