My trumpet students almost always fall into one of two categories: those who are taking lessons because they love the trumpet, and those who are taking lessons because somebody else wants them to have lessons. If a student has been in lessons for a year and is not voluntarily practicing by the end of that year, then this student needs to either find a different teacher or find a different activity: life is too short.
In general, I use “beginning” trumpet methods if a student displays ANY of the following characteristics:
1) Is still learning to play up to a G on top of the staff;
2) Feels intimidated by sixteenth notes, accidentals, or notes below the staff;
3) Needs to spend most of our lesson time on band music in order to be able to play it.
I use “advanced” methods with those who display ALL of the following characteristics:
1) Practices daily (and voluntarily) for longer than 30 minutes;
2) Masters the music in band class, usually without my help;
3) Sets advanced goals that include all-state/honor bands, solo contests, competitive ensembles, summer music festivals, and/or further study at the collegiate level.
In truth, I have met very few “intermediate” trumpet players. Younger students who possess intrinsic motivation will thrive on the challenge of advanced method books if they understand how to practice the exercises. On the other hand, older players who struggle with one of the three areas listed above (range, technique, or independent learning) are generally suffering from a longstanding problem: their embouchure is inefficient; they cannot tell what note they are on; they never understood counting in the first place, etc. These students need basic methodology to fix these problems, or else they will never progress (presuming, of course, that the student actually wants to progress). Both types of players can benefit from the materials listed under “Beginning Books Specific to Trumpet Players” on the Beginning Method Books page. These materials, especially the Hering and Getchell books, are my preferred texts for this ability level, because they are varied and challenging enough to hold my students’ attention without being unplayable.
Books for Advanced Study
All of my students are required to own a copy of Herbert L. Clarke’s Technical Studies. At a minimum, I recommend that any advanced student who is serious about mastering the trumpet also purchase the following:
– J.B. Arban, Complete Conservatory Method for Cornet (marked today as Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet)
– Max Schlossberg, Daily Drills and Technical Studies for Trumpet
– Earl D. Irons, Twenty-Seven Groups of Exercises
– Giuseppe Concone, Lyrical Studies for Trumpet or Horn or The Complete Solfeggi (my students can purchase either)
The Arban and Schlossberg books are comprehensive in that they contain exercises to develop a trumpet player’s basic foundation. For similarly comprehensive texts I recommend the Saint-Jacome Grand Method for Trumpet or Cornet, which is a nice alternative to the Arban text for being less redundant (though it requires more initiative from the student), and Michael Sachs’s excellent book Daily Fundamentals for the Trumpet, which actually contains a suggested routine. The Irons book is my preferred book of lip slurs, and I use it after my students master the basic slurs provided in the Fundamentals Part 2 handout on the Suggested Exercises page. Concone’s lyrical studies are ideal for developing a warm and resonant sound, which should be the top priority for any serious trumpet student.
Most students will have more than enough to do every week if I assign a few exercises from the books listed above in addition to their current projects (All-State, Solo and Ensemble, band music, etc.). However, extremely advanced students (especially those who want to pursue trumpet professionally) will benefit from playing etudes on a regular basis. Etudes provide them with (1) a perspective about the instrument that extends beyond the world of high school competition; (2) exposure to different musical styles; and (3) a collection of repertoire that they might one day use for scholarship or admissions auditions. The following etudes are useful for this purpose:
– Vassily Brandt, 34 Orchestral Etudes (published today as Studies on Orchestral Motives)
– H. Voxman, Selected Studies
– Phil Snedecor, Low Etudes
– Ernst Sachse, 100 Studies
– Brittany Hendricks, Limited-Range Etudes for Trumpet (At present, this collection remains unpublished and is available to my students through the password-protected section of this site. Please email me if you are interested in viewing a sample.)
With the exception of my own etude collection, which does not extend beyond E at the top of the staff, I do not generally use any of these books unless a student can comfortably play a high C in a variety of contexts (soft, loud, slurred, etc.). Though these texts contain many selections that do not require high C, trumpet players who have not mastered high C tend to struggle with the high B and B-flat as well, and would do better to explore musical concepts through other etudes that do not make these demands (see for example Getchell and Hering).