I originally intended for the video and the blog to have the same content, but I couldn’t seem to make that work very well. So the video and this blog have what we could say is “overlapping” content. If this is a topic of interest to you, then you might want to do both, watch the video and read the following blog post.
Would you like to totally master all your trumpet scales?
Someone left a comment on one of our other videos asking if we could spell out a step by step procedure of how to learn the trumpet scales using my system. Typically we would answer questions like that in the weekly Q and A, but this is a great topic for one of our feature videos.
Mastering Trumpet Scales
The instructions I’m about to share with you assume you are using my trumpet scale books. I have a number of scale books that fulfill specific purposes. I understand that having so many of these books, it can be just a little confusing as to what should be done with them.
So here is a step by step plan.
Are You In Band?
If you are a band student and the traditional band scales are part of your class work, then you should probably start with this book. The Band Scale Expansion Studies were originally written for my own students, to help them master their band’s scales.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of band scales. I call them “skeletons of the key”. The benefits to your trumpet playing are minimal because the scales themselves are minimal.
But we don’t always get to choose our musical environment and I do believe that, if the band scales are required, then it’s in your best interest to master them. Once you’ve mastered the band scales, you can use that expertise as a foundation to build upon with the other books.
I have used the Band Scale Expansion Studies with every student who has ever come to me for help with these traditional band scales. To my memory, the book has a 100% success rate. If you do the exercises as described in the book, following every instruction exactly, then you will master all of your band scales.
After you master your band scales you can do the rest of what I spell out here. I want to be very clear about this because, even though I don’t like band scales, they should be top priority for students who are required to do them for band. So get that done first and then move on to the next steps. You won’t miss out on anything by doing it that way.
Now, as a side note, if you are in a band that does not require ALL twelve keys right away, then you may want to skip this step and go straight to the next step. Or let’s say you are in junior high and learning all 12 major scales isn’t something you have to do until you get to high school, then it’s probably better to skip the band scale step and start with the next step.
Not In Band? 12 Major Scales Not Required?
If you are free to learn your trumpet scales in the best way possible, then here’s what I recommend for you. You will need two of my books to use this method, the Major Scale Expansion Studies ebook (this is not the same book as the Band Scale Expansion Studies – this book is better for students who don’t need to do the band scales) and the appropriate Tonalization Studies (trumpet sales) book for your current range.
Here is the procedure you need to follow:
1) Do the Major Scale Expansion Studies for the Key of C
No matter how good you are, do not skip this step. If you are going to skip exercises because they are too easy, then you are missing the entire point of practicing this way. When you practice correctly, almost EVERYTHING you practice will be “too easy”. But if you start skipping stuff, then you miss out on that aspect of the process.
Also, by learning the expansion studies in the key of C first, you are teaching yourself the expansion process in a safe environment. Later, when you go to the more difficult keys, this process will already be natural to you.
These trumpet scale expansion studies are designed as a “one size fits all” book. They descend first. I wrote it this way because everyone can play to low F sharp. Then the sale exercises expand to the upper register from there. Stop doing the exercises when you reach the top of your current range. Do not go beyond that range.
For example, if your current range is to G above the staff, then stop practicing the trumpet scale expansion exercises when you get to the exercise that goes to G above the staff. DO NOT PUSH YOUR RANGE ON THESE EXERCISES! For information about why, I strongly encourage you to read my One Range book.
2) Do the Tonalization Studies (trumpet scales) in C Ten Times
The tonalization studies (trumpet scales) include twenty trumpet scale patterns in each key. For this step, you must play through all twenty exercises ten times.
VERY IMPORTANT: Never practice the tonalization studies in more than one key per day. And never do them more than once per day.
Remember, if you want to master all twelve major keys, then it’s not enough to just practice trumpet scales. You need to live in each key for a while. That is the tonalization concept. Spend extended lengths of time in each key. When you spend that much time in each of the different trumpet scales, it makes a huge mental impact on the way you play.
You want to spend time in each key before you move on to another key. You are not just practicing trumpet scales. You are learning total mastery of the language of music! So it is very important that you do all twenty exercises for each key a total of ten times.
And to be completely clear about these instructions, doing them ten times should take ten practice days. Do all twenty exercises before you repeat them and only do one set of twenty per day.
NOTE: I still do this almost every day. I wrote these tonalization studies in the mid 1980’s. I have been doing them daily, all twenty exercises, for almost forty years now.
If you do not finish all twenty in one day, then simply pick up tomorrow where you left off today. If you only did five today, then begin tomorrow on exercise number six. Keep doing it this way until you work your way through all twenty exercises at lest ten times.
3) Do the Same for the Key of F
Now that you’ve done the trumpet scale expansion studies and the tonalization studies in C, it’s time to do them both again, but in the key of F. Do the expansion studies first. Do them just like the directions say. Do not skip any of the exercises just because you think they are too easy.
WE WANT THEM TO BE TOO EASY!!!!
When you reach your top range in the expansion book, put it away and do the tonalization studies in F at least ten times. Remember, you want to do all twenty exercises for the key of F at least ten times. This should take you about two weeks.
4) Progress Through Every Key – In This Order
Now you know what to do to learn each one of the keys. Do the trumpet scale expansion exercises up to your current range, then do all of the tonalization studies in that key at least ten times. Now it’s time to apply the same procedure to the rest of the keys.
Here is the order you should do them in, starting with the key of C:
- F (one flat)
- G (one sharp)
- D (two sharps)
- B flat (two flats)
- E flat (three flats)
- A (three sharps)
- E (four sharps)
- A flat (four flats)
- D flat (five flats)
- B (five sharps)
- F sharp (six sharps)
This process should take you at least six months.
That may seem like a long time, but it is almost nothing when you consider the fact that you will be benefiting from this process for the rest of your life.
Mastering all twelve major trumpet scales transforms you as a musician. It is absolutely worth six months of very patient effort.
5) One Key Per Day
After you finish the process outlined above, you can now begin doing the tonalization studies in a different key every day. I recommend progressing through the keys up in half steps. That’s how I do it. I do these trumpet sales first in C, then the next day I’m in D flat?
I also recommend being organized about your trumpet scale practice. Record the dates that you did each key. I use a form for this. I have a form that lists every scale I know and practice. I put a date in the box that corresponds with that scale so I know what to practice tomorrow.
Believe me, if you don’t write it down, you will forget. It’s very important to give every scale equal treatment.
The only way you can be equally fluent in every key is to spend equal amounts of time in every key. If you don’t record which trumpet scales you have already done, you will inevitably become very unequal in your trumpet scale practice time. Being impartial to anything in life is unnatural. We tend to favor what we like and neglect what we don’t like. If you are organized about your practice time, then you will no longer be subject to what is natural and your trumpet playing will become more “supernatural”.
Daily Routine, Chops Express or Trumpet Chops Users
If you are using any of my routine books, there is space for this approach for practicing trumpet sales within each routine. Instead of practicing your trumpet scales separately from the routine, do the steps outlined above within the context of the routine. Each routine book has a section dedicated to to Tonalization Studies. When you get to that section of the routine, insert the instructions outlined above into that part of the routine.
For example, if you are doing the expansion studies, then do NOT practice the Tonalization Studies that day. Do the scale expansion studies instead. Then, after you do enough for that day, move on to the next part of the routine.
Ready to Start?
In this article I shared with you a process that helps you get the most use out of each of the three trumpet scale books we publish. If you want to master your trumpet scales this way, then you will need to buy those books.
Here are the links:
(for students who are required to do band scales)