Irons – Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises

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Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises

Col. Earl D. Irons

The Irons book is one of those books I was practicing when I wrote my first book. It was part of the inspiration which determined how my book would be organized. In fact, the use of the word Groups in my Daily Routines book comes directly from Irons’ Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises.

The contents of Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises includes a forward with emphasis placed on tongue control, long tones, lip slurs, interval studies, lip trills, scales and multiple tonguing studies.

When I still practiced from Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises I tried to play the entire book from cover to cover. That was the way I practiced everything when I was younger. I want my students to understand that this is not the best way to practice most trumpet books. Many of the traditional trumpet staples are not actually methods as much as they are a collection of exercises. Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises will work with any method that utilizes those types of exercises. A method is not the exercises themselves but how you use those exercises.

For that reason, I have never been jealous when my students tell me they are using other exercises from other books. The method I teach them works with a great variety of different books. I believe in buying as many of these exercise books as you can afford and choosing those which best match your personal preferences. That’s why I often recommend that my students purchase Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises.

4 Responses

  1. John Holifield

    While I agree that most books can’t or shouldn’t be played through starting at the beginning, especially the Arban’s Manuel. This book kind of was designed that way. I personally play starting from group 5 through 27 once at least once a month to test my endurance under all conditions. I also do the Clarke’s Technical studies 1-9 including etude’s the same way for the same reason. The Arban’s needs to be broken down and organized in a progressive manor that most teacher’s have no Idea how to do, unfortunately.

    I got hold of your Trumpet Pyramid Book many years ago and then the Daily Routine book. I preferred to organize other books using your Ideology and I must say, I have done nothing but progress ever since. The main reason for my practicing this way was It was actually doable. It was easy to incorporate practicing this way so I could also have a wife, family and a life. Before I would organize my practice schedule with the same materials and progressive style but would practice in full the routine every day and would barely make any strength or range gains, although my technic was amazing.

    For a long time I was a believer in Claude Gordon that the only way to succeed was to practice every day for many hours. Even Doc’s comment when he was young about taking a day off – he would know, taking two days off – the band would know, taking three days off – everybody would know. Well I found out the hard way, this ain’t true. Hard work does not always mean success. Smart work will be more successful.

    Sorry for the long post but really I do agree with you with your Ideology and practice methods. They work for me and all I have taught since discovering this. So, in essence, Thank You!!!


    • Eddie Lewis

      Hello again John,

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m happy that the Physical Trumpet Pyramid structure is working for you.

      I tell my past students when I speak with them later, years after they’ve moved on, that this is how I know they understand the structure. They do what you are doing and apply that structure to other exercises they’ve gravitated towards later in their career. I have always counted those as my “proud teacher” moments because to me that’s what is most important. When the “get it”, I know it is something that will enhance their trumpet performance for the rest of their lives.

      And yes, having a life outside of music is an important part of that. You asked earlier about my rotation lists. Those lists are part of a new concept I am working on (eventually to become a book) called “The Art of Accumulative Practice”. The concept has matured out of the PTP structure. I believe that a lot of what we were taught (like the myth you mentioned in your comment about practicing every day) as music students has poisoned our minds in ways that limit progress instead of enhancing it. For that reason, I sometimes feel like being a college dropout and being completely cut off from the academic world (musically speaking) has been a blessing in disguise. Oporating as a teacher, outside of academia, has really opened my eyes to a lot of things.

      I just need to get working so these books can be done and out there. It’s just very difficult to do all of that work and make a living at the same time.

      Anyway, thanks again for the comments. It’s always nice to hear from people who have benefited from the books.


      Eddie Lewis

      PS. I’d like to add your comment to my Kudos page. Please let me know if that’s not cool and I’ll take it down.

      • John Holifield

        Please do. Also, even though I haven’t actually taken lessons with you one on one, I do proudly consider you one of my teachers. The two books mentioned above have taught me how to approach the materials that other Claude Gordon teachers helped me organize using books like, (Irons 27 Groups, Smith’s Flexibilities, Colin’s Advanced Flexibilities, Clark’s Technical Studies and Characteristic Studies, Arban’s, St. Jacome’s, Charlier Etudes etc.) into well rounded comprehensive practice routines.

        I am in your debt, Sincerely


        • Eddie Lewis

          I am touched. Thank you. It really does mean a lot to me.

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