Professional trombonist, inventor and entrepreneur Nikki Abissi talks about her passion for making music accessible and fun with her latest invention, the trombone slide extender called Extendabone.
Why a slide extension handle? Because I am a professional trombonist who has performed all around the world, and I still need one!
Like most beginners, I could barely reach 6th position and not reach 7th at all when I started. Unlike the majority of kids, my parents were able to buy me a trombone with an F attachment, so this wasn’t really a problem until I got to the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York.
At Juilliard, I encountered the first piece that was impossible to play without using 7th position, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite. Despite my teacher, Joe Alessi, teaching me every possible trick, I still could not reach 7th position enough to play in tune. Joe supposed that this was a common enough problem that there must be some kind of slide extension handle on the market.
At the time, he was right. DEG Music made this extension handle. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and there is no slide extension handle on the market!
This seems completely unacceptable to me. I know that I am not the only player, female or male, who has a hard time reaching 7th position. It seemed imperative that someone create a solution.
Extendabone is my solution. It is designed to be easy to use and comfortable to hold. Its shape mimics the empty space created when one holds a trombone slide properly between the thumb and first two fingers and there is a groove on the back to show beginners where to place their thumb. I designed it to create something that not only solved the problem of short arms, but also helped encourage good technique when not using Extendabone.
Extendabone is an inexpensive product that lets every player at any age play trombone to the best of their abilities. A further benefit is that students can no longer pick up their middle finger to touch the bell when playing in third position, so it has extra pedagogical fringe benefits!
Sustainable Product and Packaging
When it came time to manufacture Extendabone, I wanted to follow her beliefs first, and then make the numbers work. Extendabone is manufactured in Paterson, New Jersey, USA out of 100% recycled plastic.
Creating a product also means creating packaging. She didn’t want to add to the landfills but also knew that packaging was necessary. The Extendabone’s plastic bag is made out of cellophane, which is a plastic created from cellulose (plants). It is completely home compostable, so no need to feel bad about putting it in the trash!
The header tag is printed on recycled paper from a company in California with a similar passion for sustainability. The ink is soy-based, so the header tag can also go in the compost bin as well as the trash. Small choices can make big changes!
Extendabone is exclusively available from Warwick Music in the UK and Europe for £15 or €20 inclusive of VAT and free shipping. Available in three colours - black, blue and red.