The B Flat scale is one of the most basic and most important scales on a trumpet, and it is useful for playing a whole range of music. It is quite simple to play and involves two flats: B and E. Once you have mastered it, you will have a solid foundation to build on for playing jazz, classical and more!
Most modern trumpets are tuned to B flat instead of C, which means that a note played on the trumpet will sound one tone lower than the same note played at concert pitch. This guide teaches you the notes for a trumpet B flat major scale, and all fingerings are the same for cornet.
How to play?
Start on a low Bb, using the 1st valve. If you’re unsure where to pitch it, find your middle C (open valves) and then press the 1st valve to go down a tone.
From there, go up to your open C, then on to D (1st and 3rd valves).
The next note is E flat. Unlike E natural, E flat uses the 2nd and 3rd valves to achieve the semitone.
F is 1st valve, same as B flat – these notes are played this way in every octave.
G is open, like C, then you should use 1st and 2nd valves for A.
Finally, finish on a B flat. This should be the same as your starting note, but an octave higher.
Now you have everything you need to play a one octave B flat major scale, try playing up and down a few times to get used to the valve changes and switch smoothly between notes – you will soon be able to play it without thinking!
In time, you will also be able to add on the next octave, but be careful – some of the note fingerings are different in higher octaves.
Another useful thing to learn is the arpeggio, which involves playing all the individual notes of the key chord. In B flat major, these are B flat, D, F and B flat.
It should be easier to remember than the whole scale, since you only need two different valve configurations: first valve for the B flats and F, and first and third valves for D. Again, it is important to practise the transitions thoroughly so they sound clean.
It can also be difficult to hit the higher pitches at first, so pay particular attention to these.
Once you have learnt major scales in different keys, it is also handy to learn the minor keys. These are used for more melancholy-sounding music, and are also vital in jazz playing. For B flat minor, you will need to substitute the D for a D flat (1st, 2nd and 3rd valves) and the G for a G flat (2nd valve).
All other notes remain the same as the major scale. Give it a try, and listen to how the sound changes between the major and the minor.