Learning Scales

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by kornork, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. equivariant

    equivariant New Friend

    May 25, 2009
    I practise scales through the cycle of ascending 4ths. Thus in the following sequence of keys....


    That serves at least two purposes. Only one note changes as you move from one key to the next and also movement in 4ths is quite a common movement in music, so you get used to hearing that sound.
  2. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    I've taken to writing the key signature mnemonic next to the key signature in Clarke's. Then with each exercise I repeat the mnemonic and the sharps/flats ie "B major, everything except B and E is sharp" before I play the exercise.

    Then, with the whole question of knowing music theory, knowing the structure of the different scales - I am sure it's useful - particularly if you can't recall the key signature: someone says "play a B major scale"
    OK, start on B, up whole step, C#, up whole step, D#, up half step, E, up whole step, F#, up whole step, G#, up whole step A#, up half step, B. however, you have to think through that - at least at the moment, I don't think in intervals, I have to "think about it," which would make the process slower. So, I like the notion of learning the structure of the scales - the intervals etc, but in the mean time, why not just memorize they key signatures? Once you've got the major scales down, you can simply tack the relative minors on there.

    The "other" scales are a bit of a different matter, and I am not trying to memorize them or learn structure per se' until I get the majors and minors down.

    On the other hand, I just picked up Practica Musica - and that will have its own approach. We'll see how that goes.
  3. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

    Sep 12, 2009

    Your problem is that you are forgetting about the previous things that you THOUGHT you had learnt, well repetition is the key to success, partially. It also depends on how you approach the matter. I had a same problem, I was trying to tackle the problem too technically, I was giving too much thought on my finger positions rather than thinking about the structure of the scale. So I played a scale, BUT I wasn't thinking about the finger position, rather how big the jump is gonna be, so if I wanna get from C to D it takes a whole step, and subconsciously I already know how I must position my fingers, hence rethinking about it in the situation where you are playing the scale is not resourceful.

    That's how I approached it, and it worked for me, though I was playing alot in chromatic to sort of store the fingerpositions in my subconsciousness.

    And as I said, it worked for me, might not work for you. My suggestion is to just try out all the solutions you can think of on your own, that's usually the best way to learn instead of having someone telling it to you.
  4. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    ska sez:
    Your problem is that you are forgetting about the previous things that you THOUGHT you had learnt, well repetition is the key to success,
    ska is exactly right. repetition.
    Here's something you might want to try.
    You know the C scale starting on any note, right? Let's look at how your thinking about things BEFORE you play. My guess is that you practice the scales by reading the notes and you do pretty well, until the sheet music is removed.
    Here's an idea:
    Think of every scale as in the key of C and any note that's not part of the C scale (as you know it) is a mutation
    The D major scale is the C scale "But" you start on D and F and C are altered.
    If I say Play the Ab major scale you know to start on Ab
    Now, think of the C major scale but start on Ab. What notes are mutated to make it a major scale? Pretty soon you'll just know the fingerings and you'll notice a similarity in finger patterns among certain scales, e.i certain scales use the valves 23 more than others. Like ska said. Repetition. Also develop a format. Several have suggested the Cycle. I would agree. Start at C and go right or left but be sure to go one scale at a time.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  5. Bay Area Brass

    Bay Area Brass Piano User

    Mar 2, 2007
    San Francisco
    In addition to just practicing scales, playing jazz patterns in all keys further helps to develop you ear and fingers in all keys- playing patterns and melodies chromatically is very helpful to being comfortable in all keys/chords
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I do not recommend watching TV or reading a book while practicing. The trumpet gives the player more than enough to think about and my take is that brainless activity trains brainlessness. Find quality time for things that you really care about.

    Habits are built on thousands of repetitions. Scales are patterns that need to be memorized.
  7. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    When I was first learning my major and minor scales, I practiced them so much that I could play them without having to really think about them, my fingers just knew where to go.I found it was more muscle memory than trying to think of each individual note, which would slow my speed playing them. The trick is to start slow with hours of repetition.It takes time but once you have them ,you'll have them.
  8. Phil

    Phil Pianissimo User

    Jun 7, 2009
    There have been a lot of good things said on this already, but maybe some of it is a little bit much. If you are reading out of the 2nd Standard of Excellence book, may I assume you are a considerably younger student such as in middle school? If so, BRAVO! for wanting to learn your scales, it is a very smart thing to do. The main thing to remember about scales at this age is learning your fingerings and learning what scales are.
    Every time you play a bottom line E, you should come to think of it AS E and not 1-2. After you learn the fingerings so well you don't have to think what they are, you can think about what notes you are playing; I think learning scales at this point will be considerably easier.
    Take them slow to get a feel for what each note sounds like and be able to say in your head while playing them, "C...D...E...F...G.." etc.
    A couple other notes about learning scales at an early age: fingers will forget, don't rely on your fingers to remember how the scales go. Second; I deeply believe in that quote stated a couple times already: practice until you can't get it wrong, but HAVE FUN!
  9. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

    Sep 12, 2009
    Always think outside the box too, for example. Get the hold of C and C# majors and then. play C major from C to C, come back down and immediately move to C# major, then when u come back down immediately switch to a new major or u can do it with minors aswell, or even mix them. You will train your mind to quickly adapt to new situations.
  10. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    Markie has excellent advice, especially playing a little tune for each key.

    You can also play the scale by 3rds (C-E-D-F-E-G-F-A etc). Invent a little melody on each, trying to vary intervals and rythmic patterns, keeping it sounding large and maestoso. Do you have any other book than Standards of Excellence? Both of Clarke's Elementary Studies and Technical Studies would be mighty helpful. Arban has an entire section exclusively devoted to scales. Balay has nice melodic duets on scales.

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