Brittle Trombone | Script Revolution

Brittle Trombone

Brittle Trombone 
A young girl strikes a bargain to take trombone lessons from an elderly man during the time of Covid-19. 

Mary Goldman’s eight-page short is a sinfonietta. Simple beats, rich in meaning. 

Sometimes, movies are about what is possible... this short is just that. 

It’s springtime and Covid is in the air in this small town. 13-year-old Brittany doesn’t have much to do. So, when she spies frail 82-year-old Alfred lugging a case down the street towards a thrift store, she can’t help but query what’s inside. From the beginning, their communication style of grumpy grace and teenage tingle… well, sings. 

Because what’s in the case is Alfred’s time-honored trombone: a trusty companion he once made beautiful music with, but - thanks to arthritis – must let go. The sliding gadget captures Brittany’s curiosity. If it can still make music, she’s eager to try. 

Brittany makes an offer Alfred “can’t refuse.” She’ll water his neglected lawn in return for lessons. Alfred not only agrees, but he ups the offer. After all he’s been around the block a few: if Brit can learn to play Sweet Georgia Brown, then the long-silent instrument can be hers and rescued from the mountain of donations. 

Thus begins a touching partnership between a precocious teen mourning for a mentor, and an octogenarian with wisdom to share. 

But learning the trombone is far from easy… both for the would-be musician and those forced to hear those first creaky notes. Thankfully, no misophonia develops as does with many seniors. Alfred’s taking a liking to Brittany quick via counsel, explaining osmosis doesn't work. “Time and effort” are what it takes to be good, better than simply good… something he believes this current generation is not so keen on. 

Persistence has the power to breech barriers, but does Brit have the character it takes to bring her musical abilities to Glenn Miller band levels, and beyond? 

And so, the practice begins. – a veritable chorus of scenes: 

- Alfred puffing on his pipe while urging Brittany to “Relax her embouchure” (the way a brass player applies the entirety of their mouth to the mouthpiece utilizing not just lips, but facial muscles so that tone and timbre is as close to perfect pitch as possible.) 

- Brittany learning to clean the trombone via “Youtubes” (Alfred’s phrase) while her mother bellows dinner’s getting cold. Oh, mom… 

- Practice, practice, and more practice. If one seeks perfection, can one summer ever be enough? 

But eventually the girl’s got it! Sweet Georgia Brown, that is. Eager to play for Alfred, Brittany races to his porch, only to find… 

….he’s not there. 

Because Alfred’s “got the Covid”, and he’s in the hospital. What happens next? 

Read the script. In Brittle Trombone, writer Mary Goldman plays us a story that assesses through song what matters in life. On the surface, it’s a story of generations communicating through music to find common bond and meaning. During illness, can solos still become duets? 

Delving deeper… 

Goldman offers us an opportunity - utilizing the pandemic as backdrop - to decide and truthfully assess, through song and place, what it is, truly that will fulfill our lives beyond what makes life meaningful. 

Deep down, we know what our missing musical note is …music that’ll open our heart and whisper in each ear. 

“My greatest teacher was not a vocal coach, not the work of other singers,
but the way Tommy Dorsey breathed and phrased the trombone.”
- Frank Sinatra 

The Script

Brittle Trombone

A young girl strikes a bargain to take trombone lessons from an elderly man during the time of Covid-19.

About The Reviewer

Caroline Rovello's picture
Real name: 

...Nominee, Harold L. Brown, Award of Excellence... 

*Winner* Edgar Allan Poe Film Festival: Best Short Screenplay

*Winner* Best International Short Screenplay: Milan, Italy


"...New York is always hopeful. Always believes ... something good ..." - Dorothy Parker

... gratitude in all things ...


... Bona-fide first-generation professional...Read more

About The Writer

Mary Goldman's picture
Real name: 

I am a Toronto writer and actor with an eclectic background: Tried my hand at fashion design, which led me to graphic design where I found a home working primarily in print media. Raised a family, jumped into my childhood dream of acting and managed to book professional jobs in film, TV shows and commercials as well as live theatre productions. When my 18 year-old daughter left to backpack Europe (nine months of no sleep for me!), the idea for my first screenplay, The Rain in Spain...Read more