Sunday Scales 15: Divide and conquer the chunks

Anthony Plog’s “fingering exercises and etudes” from his Method for Trumpet (see below) make for fun practicing. This week we’ll take a look at Vol. 2, Ex. 7:

15 - a - ex 7 full

At sixteen measures, this is on the longer side for a scale pattern. How are we going to memorize it? With two techniques. The first is already in this article’s title: “Divide and Conquer.”

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Sunday Scales 14: Mr. Gekker

Chris Gekker is one of my favourite trumpeters, for his many recordings as a soloist and with the American Brass Quintet (1 2 3), for his writings (see: one of my favourite articles about practicing trumpet) and for his book Articulation Studies.

Even though, as the title suggests, the book is intended to assist articulation, most of the exercises are built around scale patterns and many would work equally well slurred or tongued. Either way they are classics.

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Sunday Scales 13: Mr. Schlossberg

Max Schlossberg is primarily known to brass players today as the “author” of the book Daily Drills and Technical Exercises. This book contains exercises by Schlossberg, however it was only put together after his death by his son-in-law Harry Freistadt, and it can be a bit confusing to work through.

In his day, though, Schlossberg was a sought-after performer and teacher, being hired by the New York Philharmonic while Mahler was at the helm (!). As the stories go, he had a marvelous ability to diagnose students’ issues on the fly, and he would write out exercises during lessons tailored to their specific problems. This means that the performance instructions (range, dynamics, articulations, etc.) would often be completely different when two different students received the same exercise.

Regardless, many exercises in the book are classics for all brass players, and Schlossberg’s teachings echo through the works of the major brass pedagogues of the twentieth century. Here are a few notable examples:

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Sunday Scales 12: Fifths factory (part two)

Last week, I showed how we could start generating scale patterns built around the circle of fifths. As promised, we’re going to up the stakes this week.

As you might recall, we created two kinds of exercises: “templates” (large patterns for navigating the circle of fifths) and “cells” (little patterns to play on each note of a template). Today I’m going to introduce two new types of cells: up a fourth and down a fifth.

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Sunday Scales 11: Fifths factory (part one)

Building on what we saw in Part 5, today we’re going to cook up some more scale patterns. There are plenty of scales out there in trumpet-land, but few follow the circle of fifths (you can see one of my own in Part 8).

Today I’m going to lay out some puzzle pieces, and you can put them together however you want to make an unlimited variety of exercises.

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Sunday Scales 10: Mr. Nagel

This week’s featured book is a lesson in humility. Robert Nagel was a founding member of the New York Brass Quintet and has held teaching affiliations with Yale, Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, and more… His book Speed Studies is a collection of scale exercises designed to go beyond the traditional major/minor scales most of us encounter as beginners. His own preface says it best:

On first acquaintance with these drills and studies it may seem to the student that there are no determinable groupings or sequences to certain successions of notes. However, such is not the case. Although much of contemporary music appears to avoid obvious groupings of notes, it is the purpose of this book to bridge the gap between the more obvious scale patterns of 19th century music and the more complex and irregular groupings found in much of our present day music by presenting instrumental study materials of an intermediate complexity. The patterns employed here usually consist of from three or four to eight notes. These melodic formations are frequently contrary to the established rhythmic pattern. For example, a three-note melodic grouping may occur and be repeated in a four sixteenth-notes per beat rhythm. It is the writer’s belief that specific comprehension and recognition of these various melodic formations will aid the student to read and execute this study material with greater speed and accuracy.

This week’s scales are after the jump. Continue reading “Sunday Scales 10: Mr. Nagel”