Kids, don’t try this at home.
After a practice session in his New York City apartment, trombonist David Finlayson decided to try something for fun. He attached a GoPro video camera to the slide of his brass Yamaha Xeno trombone and began to play.
A year and a half later, a colleague asked Finlayson for permission to post the video clip online. What followed was an online explosion on YouTube, Facebook and other social outlets — including a million hits on Finlayson’s personal website.
“I’ve gotten emails from all over the world about it,” said Finlayson. “It’s been crazy. It’s gone viral, as they say. The traffic has been enormous.”
A professional trombonist for the New York Philharmonic and a photographer, Finlayson said he never expected his minute-and-a-half video to become so popular.
GoPro cameras – which have jumped in popularity since the company debut in 2002 — are often used by adrenaline junkies to show their exploits skydiving, surfing or ripping down a mountainside on a bike.
“They’re everywhere, these little cameras — but not at the end of a trombone,” said the 58-year-old Finlayson.
So how’d he do it?
Finlayson’s trombone is custom made, outfitted with a carbon fiber slide instead of a traditional brass slide, which can be easily dented if something is clamped to it. Finlayson eventually decided to attach his GoPro to the carbon fiber slide with an attachment typically used for bicycle handlebars. He set the camera lens to its widest angle of view, and started recording as he played Trombone Etude, a 19th century piece by Joannes Rochut.
“The setting would distort my face as much as possible. It looks like my face is about to explode,” said Finlayson. “Some people have commented on my eyebrows. I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments. That’s been kind of fun.”
Although he’s enjoyed the feedback from the video, titled “Trombone Silliness,” he says he didn’t produce it for commercial reasons.
“The world needs something to smile about right now. Things have been so tense on the news with fiscal problems and people gunning each other down,” said Finlayson. “I hope it spurs an idea for someone to do something that no one else has ever done before.”