When learning to play any instrument, one of the first things you’ll learn is how important scales are. Trumpet players in particular can take full advantage of scales to make them better, stronger, and more well-rounded players to play faster and more advanced music in orchestras.
This is why we have written this article, to tell you a little more about trumpet scales and to provide you with guidance on where to start.
Different Types of Scales
If you are a beginner trumpet player, we recommend you focus on the Concert Bb scale. This is also known as the C major scale and is pictured in the sheet music below. However, once you have mastered this scale, don’t be afraid to move on to something trickier and more advanced.
And keep practicing till they’re perfect!
What we have included below is the major scale sheet. Some of these scales appear in two octaves and after you have built up enough scale, you will be able to play both these octaves. If a scale on this sheet goes too high for you to play, skip down the octave for a better quality sound.
You are then able to skip back up on the way back down. However, if a scale goes below your range, it’s about time you get some more practice in. You need to make sure you know these notes and know how to play them so they produce a good sound.
Feel free to download or print the scale sheet included on the next page.
Major Scales- Bb Trumpet
Scales are referred to by what note they start on. For example, the first scale on the sheet is C major, and therefore, this scale starts with a C note. This is also a starter scale as there are no sharps or flats included and so is the easiest scale on the sheet to play.
In the brackets next to the names of the scales is what they are called in the trumpet world however and in your band teacher’s mind. This is because the trumpet is a transposing instrument.
The major scales in the picture above include the easiest scales right up to the more advanced ones that are still required to be learned by trumpet players for better play.
If you haven’t begun learning music theory yet, or you are at the very beginning stages of music theory, you might want to take a closer look at the key signatures of each scale, and how they relate to the starting note, which is also called the tonic.
Some of these keys might be rare to find in your band practice, yet if you play in a musical group with other instrument players such as those who play strings, or even vocalists, you’re going to need a strong understanding of them.
Playing the Scales
As you play, listen to your sound closely. If it doesn’t sound smooth, something is going wrong. A good comparison musicians often use is that it should sound similar to the old Do Re Mi major scale.
If there is a lot of activity on the major scales, minor scales can be explored. You might also be able to then explore chromatic scales. Chromatic scales are similar to playing the fingering chart and you can start them anywhere.
After you have been playing the trumpet for around a year, a lot of band teachers will want to hear you play the concert Bb chromatic scale. This is a very useful scale for warming up and for working on finger agility.
Tips and Tricks
If you can play a scale steadily and without error, now it’s time to memorize this scale. Memorizing scales help you improve your overall playing abilities. When you have a scale memorized and it sounds good every time you play it, try a variety of articulations.
What this means is that you can either tongue every note, slur all the notes, or even slur groups of two or four notes and so on. If you get creative and have fun with this, the possibilities are endless.
If your band teachers have told you to work on speed, ensure you are snapping the valves down firmly and letting them up quickly.
This should help you make every note sound good. You should also begin adjusting some notes with your 3rd valve slide and if you have a 1st, use this too. These adjustments, with time, should become automatic.
We hope if you are a beginner trumpet player, this article has helped you with getting to grips with the scales you need to learn, as well as given you some tips and tricks on how to use them to improve your overall playing.
Once you can play the scales on this sheet, don’t forget to memorize them and then play around with those articulations.
If you are a more advanced player, or you have mastered the scales we have gone through in this article, don’t be afraid to ask your band teacher for some more information on arpeggios. This could be the next step and might take your playing to a whole new level.