Any tips on how to use Arban's
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Hi all,

So...  I have an older edition of Arban's as many have recommended.  In my beginner's anal-retentive mode, I master exercise 1 and 2, and then move onto exercise 3 and 4, ad nauseum.  For me, it is reminescent of Hanon's exercises for the piano.  Problem is that approach soon lead to boredom at the piano and I suspect for the trombone as well.  I have tried skipping around but it can at best be described as aimless skipping.  Kind of like a kid at play.

Anyone have ideas on how to make the use of Arban's a bit more focused and/or interesting?


Knuckle Dragger:
The method is not supposed to be done sequentially.  Each section is it's own technical "skill" to master.  Allow me to explain, my third practice of the day is devoted to my technique:

Scale Studies(long and short)
Chromatic Studies
Multiple Tonguing

Are the different sections of the book I hit because the are what I feel I need the most work on.

Just figure out what major problems you have and then use those sections in the book to create a practice routine.
Quote from: "Knuckle Dragger"

Are the different sections of the book I hit because the are what I feel I need the most work on.

Just figure out what major problems you have and then use those sections in the book to create a practice routine.

thats what I do, if i notice that im not doing so well on lets say...triple tonguing, i will find it in the index and then work on it

and start off playing each section as slow as you can until you get it down, then get faster as you get better at it. :clever:

:clever: -My Band director
Traslation: PRACTICE!
David Schwartz:
Quote from: "smcferrin"

Anyone have ideas on how to make the use of Arban's a bit more focused and/or interesting?

My own practice is limited to an hour a day.  After brief mouthpiece buzzing and slurs, I make sure I do at least one of Arban's many chord exercises (#'s 48 to 55) and one of the first two interval exercises, observing the repeat signs.

Those Arban exercises rapidly cycle through all keys within six or seven minutes.  That makes them highly effective for improving intonation.

I play them against tonic drones.  That assures that I'm practicing the right notes.

This became LONG, but I'm throwing it out there anyway. Hope someone finds it useful!!

Arban' just can't be ignored. First of all, it is a book of exercises, not a formula for any kind of specific musical growth. It is ONE template for developing certain playing skills. Some people think, "If I just figure out Arban's stuff, I'll be set". If it were ONLY that easy. Remember, many of your favorite players never cracked open the Arban's book. Many others work out of it regularly.

Some great player/teachers suggest that you should work out most of the types of exercises in Arban's by ear. This is a good idea, but there is a lot to be gained by SEEING it too. Some players work better SEEING what the task is in front of them. Also, this book does a good job at introducing a player [regardless of ability] to the idea of taking ONE thing musical idea [scale patterns, arpeggio patterns, intervals]  through many/all keys AND vice versa;  practicing through several musical ideas all in ONE key.

Is it better to read these exercises or make them up by ear?

I say do BOTH!!

In general it is helpful to have a clear outline of the things you want to address regularly and the things in your playing that need MORE than regular work. As others have suggested so far, look for the things in Arban's that help you develop the musical skill in question.

Incidentally, I feel that the recently published Alessi/Bowman edition is worth the money. The comments between the sections alone [even if you already have the old version I refer to below] are worth the $50 US. This is probably less than half the price of a lesson with either of these two legends!! Also there are duets, arias and other exercises not in the previous two volumes for trombone. The spiral binding sits better on a music stand and most of the typos are corrected.

This is a basic outline of all the things I like to hit on a fairly regular basis as part of my routine, into which I might draw from a variety of books, lesson notes, improvised exercises and music I might be preparing for performance. Arban's is near the top of the list for material.

Here is how Arban's fits into my world....

First, I usually do a 20-45 minute "warm up routine" which allows me to briefly address most of these topics [I use portions of Alessi's routine, Stamp, Main, Remington, Sachs, Neumeister and my own things]. This also serves as a little inventory check. Then, I might isolate one or two [or ten!!] of the following topics for more specific work [sometimes over a few weeks] depending on how much time I have and what other kinds of playing I am doing [or NOT doing] that day.

Below, I have included the Arban's stuff I plug into certain topics of focus after I go through this 20-45 minute routine above .... It might seem like a lot here in print. In practice, I like to focus on one topic for 5,10, maybe 20 minutes, then move on to something else, rest a little, then come back to the first thing again, etc.

Within each topic, there are variables...Articulation, dynamics, range, transpostition/clef, tempo....

[there are other topics...these are just the ones I use Arban's for]

1.Mouthpiece/Buzzing....p. 19 #9 [on mouthpiece]

2.Sound...p. 108 #44-47 [ala Bordogni. More of this stuff in the Alessi/Bowman version--great for sight-singing/playing and buzzing too]

3. Slower Slurs and Intervals... p 45 #3-11, p 47 #16 and 17, p 135 #8-12

4. Slow Articulated Playing...p 45 #1 and 2, p 93 #1 [1/8 note=60 or slower]

5.Faster Slurs/Trills...p 48 [#18-26]

6.Faster Articulated Playing [the subject I draw out of Arban's most]...p 53 #31-60, p. 93 [#1-23] p 110 [#48-54--no grace notes], p136 #13-47...triplets and 1/16's]  

7.Slow Scales...p 63-90, try starting with one or two keys/day every week for a few months...1/8 note=50!!

8.Faster Scales...p 24 #28-45, p 28 #47-50, "Major Scales" p. 63 [1-16 are different patterns in Bb, the remaining keys have 6 patterns each...I like to take one key through all 6 of these patterns in a practice session then I'll make up or derive my own patterns in that key. Unfortunately, this edition of Arban's only goes through the flat should do the sharp keys too!! "Chromatic Scales" [p.80-90] I might read one exercise then do it again starting on different notes.

9.Faster/Wider Intervals p. 126-127 [a personal favorite!]...If you want a good timbre/consistency exercise [courtesy of Roy Main!!], play p 127, top to bottom [no repeats if you like], "mf", with a good solid tenuto attack, then shift over to p 128 and read it from the bottom up. Rest for a couple seconds every couple of lines. As you play this every day for a couple weeks, you will eventually get through the whole thing without needing to rest as much. Work this up from about quarter=72 if you are an intermediate player, and work it up day by day, week by week, month by month to 160 or more. Strive for an even resonant sound at all times through all registers. p 128-134 expand on this exercise...wider jumps, faster rhythms. Jump in there once in a while too!!

10. Multiple Tongue...some source of disagreement here. Arban starts with triple tonguing. I started with double. Whatever you chose to start with, be consistent and always be able to cross your single and multiple tongue speeds to avoid developing a "crack" between the two techniques. Arban's exercises provide a good outline for one way to develop multiple tonguing. p. 162 #1-14 are triple tongued triplet patterns on a single note. Don't rush your way through these. Play them very SLOWLY [quarter=60-72 at first]. You can experiment with articulating TTK, TKT, TTT, TKK, KKK [again, thanks, Roy Main!!]. Get the T's and K's to be equally clear. They can then become interchangable. On p 167#[16-46] you start triple tongue across one, then two intervals, the next step in the process. p. 175 [#47-76] is the application of triple tongue on scales and intervals. You can go back to the Fast Articulation exercises for more triple tongue practice too. The Double Tongue section then moves through the process a little quicker [maybe Arban figured that if you made it this far with triple tonguing, you should pick up double pretty quickly]. But in this section, there are some nice mixed articulation [double tongue/slurred] exercises to expand your fast articulation repertoire. Again, crispness, clarity and great sound should be a higher priority than speed when working on this section.

11. Rhythmic Accuracy/Style...p 30 [1-18] "Syncopation" section. Strive for clear [un-rushed, un-draggy] time on these. Slide and tongue work together! p 35 [#19-37]...this is in my "top ten" of single tongue exercises!! I make most of my students work on these religiously! Start very slowly. Each exercise focuses on a different rhythmic "groove". Make them LOCK in time-wise. Then, when you encounter these rhythms in other music, you will have already done the hard work. I myself often do 3-4 of these a day, striving for clear and precise rhythm, THEN speed them up. Single tongue speed and sense of time are closely related. Do things with efficiency, good time and clarity. Eventually, you will  be able to move them faster with less effort.

12. Arpeggios: p 60 [#68 and 69] major chords, taken through various inversions. On #69, all the keys right there in front of you!! No excuses!! p 151 major [#'s 48, 50 and 52], minor [#'s 49 and 51], dominant 7th [#53] and diminished 7th [#55]. Again, all keys are right there! Get to work, even if you start REALLY slow!! I like to do 3-4 keys at a practice session. Let's them soak in! Strive to be comfortable doing these all by ear. Close your eyes and BLOW!

This leaves the famous "Characteristic Studies" and the "Airs and Variations". As you work on the more tedious work above, jump into these technically challenging pieces. Working steadily, in a pretty short period of time, there should be some pieces in there for you to tackle. Each "Characteristic Study" emphasizes certain musical might be mostly chromatic, another might challenge your multiple tonguing, another tests your arpeggios, etc. If so, you can go back to main volume to work out the loose ends you find in your playing  

Single out phrases in the Characteristic Studies and the Airs/Variations to add to any of the categories above.

Be imaginitive and creative ESPECIALLY when you work on "exercises".


Good luck!!

Alex Iles
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