Learning and playing trumpet scales are one of the cornerstones of successfully learning how to play the instrument to the best of your ability. They can be a little daunting at the beginning if you get caught up in the details of theory and technical details, but once you start to relax and approach them from a broader perspective, they can be the most enjoyable part of your warmup routine.
The Theory of Trumpet Scales
Learning your trumpet scales means first you have to learn the scales themselves. For beginners, start out by learning all of the major scales. Use a piano or a keyboard to help you out with understanding the major scale steps (whole, whole, half, whole, whole, half) so that you see how the pattern moves across the keys.
For a great explanation of why major scales in particular developed all around the world no matter what the culture, check out this YouTube video – What’s Up With Noises.
Then learn your key signatures. All of them! Start with the easy ones, then work your way through the ones with more accidentals. Use music flashcards if you need to, and only work as fast as you can without feeling frustrated. People stretch the major scale learning process out to months or even years, but if you make it a focal point, you should have no trouble making it through them in even a few weeks!
The Practice of Trumpet Scales
Now here’s the thing. Playing scales is boring. And not just a little boring. A lot boring. And some of the deeper scales (minor melodic, minor harmonic, Lydian, Phrygian, etc) can get hard to wrap your head around, especially when you start doing some transposing up and down.
So the challenge when working your scales is making them effective learning tools as well as making them fun for you. Adding blues scales and pentatonic scales into the mix is one of the first, best ways to start enjoying scales, simply because they sound nice.
And you can also add variations into your scale playing.
Play loud and soft. Play breathy or aggressive. Move your dynamics around. Swing the timing. Pretend that you’re playing scales for your favorite musician. How do you add your personality into what would otherwise be a boring exercise? The more you have a purpose, the greater your intent, the more you get out of it. Add some backing tracks to move through your scales over top of (backing tracks coming soon to this site for that purpose).
Trumpet Scales and Fingering Resources
The links below will send you to places where you can see sheet music and fingerings for all of the major scales, and eventually all of the other types of scales as well. Come back often for more resources. Eventually I’ll standardize the format and package all of these scales together in a single place.