Sunday Scales 6: Variations galore

This week I’m going to demonstrate an important practice technique:

  1. Identify a difficult technical passage
  2. Extract the excerpt and practice it on its own
  3. Memorize the excerpt
  4. Vary and transpose the excerpt as widely as possible

As our source, we’ll take a well-known passage from George Enesco’s Légende:

VI - a - Legende

First, let’s get away from the original and put it in “C”:

VI - b - Legende transposedNext, let’s reduce the passage to its barest “skeleton” – this will give us a melodic and rhythmic framework, and on the trumpet it will help set up good airflow:

VI - b - Legende skeleton

Underneath all the ink it’s not so complicated. Mostly a C augmented triad, filled in chromatically. It’s always helpful to start with a simple idea (and practice it out loud!).

Now we will start generating as many variations as possible. I like to think of practice variations as walking around a three-dimensional object: with every step we are seeing it from a slightly different angle and adding a new detail to our understanding:

VI - c - Legende variations

As we established before, the possibilities for this kind of practice are limitless. Often I use interesting or difficult patterns from my repertoire to generate exercises in my fundamentals routine.

For many more examples of this technique, check out Michael Sachs, Daily Fundamentals for the Trumpet.