Arban Trumpet Method Book – THE “BIBLE” Of Trumpet Exercises

arbans trumpet method book exercises
My two worn out Arban books. Click image to check  pricing on new Arban books over at Amazon

Arban Trumpet Method Book – Every Trumpeter’s “BIBLE”

The Arban book is called the trumpeter’s “bible”,  and for good reason. In this article we are going to take a look at why this is…

…and I’ll also share some other interesting stuff about the Arban method book, so make sure to stay with me to the end of the article.

What Exactly Is “The Arban”

The  Arban is a  gigantic 400 page book, full of exercises,  songs, duets and instructions for trumpet. Well…

…let’s make one thing clear right from the start. The Arban is not really a trumpet method book, it was originally written for cornet, however, it is actually a book for ALL brass players, as in…

  • Cornet
  • Trumpet
  • Eb Alto horn
  • Bb Tenor horn
  • Baritone horn
  • Trombone
  • Tuba

…depending on if you buy a treble clef version or the bass clef version. The most common one though, is the treble clef version.

The book is a LEGEND and it is no wonder it is called the trumpeter’s “bible”. EVERY brass player on the planet should own the Arban book, and I think most do. Personally I own two of them.

Yes indeed, this book is really that important and I seriously mean it when I say, EVERY single brass player on the planet should own the “BIBLE”, from beginners to virtuoso’s and everyone in between!

Why?

Well, the Arban book is called the trumpeter’s bible, because you can find everything in regards to brass playing in it. And I do mean everything. From how to correctly produce your first note, all the way to the most difficult pieces you can perfrom as a brass player…

…and of course, thousands of exercises for every aspect of brass playing, that will make  sure progress is constantly made, and if you put in a lot of work,  reach the skill-level needed to play the most difficult cornet solos in the very end of the Arban book…

…and all along the way there are easy to understand, written instructions on how to play those exercises!

Where is the Best place to get the Arban?

-Sheetmusicplus: You can click here to check pricing (generally cheaper)
-Amazon: You can click here to check the current price

Short History About The Arban Trumpet Book / Cornet Book

The Arban method book was written by the French cornet virtuoso “Joseph Jean-Baptiste Laurent Arban” in 1864…

…imagine that, 1864!

For more than a century, the Arban’s has been the definite course of study for the cornet and trumpet students around the world and even now, more than 150 years later, the book is indeed as useful as it was back then.

Jean-Babtiste Arban was born 28’th February 1825, and he he died  8th April 1889. He was probably the first cornet player to become widely known for his phenomenal playing skills.

Influenced by the violine virtuoso and composer Niccolò Paganini’s work he started working on, composing and putting together a massive project. Little did he know that that very project would later become to be the world’s greatest book for brass players…

…the Arban Method Book!

The Arban Book Is Called The Trumpet Players “Bible” Across The World

The reason why the Arban book has come to be known as “the trumpeter’s bible” all across the world has nothing to do with religion…

…no, it has come to be called “the trumpeter’s bible” for the exact same reasons I just mentioned…

  • It’s a very old book
  • It’s very thick
  • It’s full of “how to” lessons
  • It has got all you need in order to become a superb brass player

…basically, an old book on how a trumpet player should be going about his trumpet life 🙂

So, in case you were not aware of this, now you know. And from now on, whenever you hear a brass player talk about “the bible” case may be, he is actually referring to the Arban book.

My Personal Relationship With The Arban Trumpet Method Book

I started playing the trumpet when I was 5 years old and my father, Peter Slotte, was my first trumpet teacher. After playing for my father for a few years I started taking lessons from my grandfather Rolf Slotte.

They were both trumpet players. I’m actually the fourth generation trumpeter in my family, and I vividly remember the day my grandfather showed me the Arban trumpet book for the first time…

…my jaw dropped because I thought it looked “mysterious” as it was so very big, with yellow, worn out pages. I remember my grandfather told me “Robert, the day you can play every page from this book perfectly, I’ll buy you anything you want”

Now, of course, my granfather was not rich, nor did he have to buy me an expensive car, or anything else for that matter, because honestly I have to say…

….I never learned to play every single page of the Arban book, perfectly!

To my defense, it’s A BIG book and in the end there are some very difficult pieces. I’m a somewhat decent trumpet player, but not a virtuoso. However, I have spent hundreds of hours practicing from it…

…and let me tell you this; today, looking back on my trumpet journey, I do NOT consider one single hour of those Arban practice hours a waste of my time!

I am convinced that the Arban trumpet exercises play a big part in me, pretty early on, developed a somewhat decent “technical mastery” over the trumpet, as in drills, fast scale movements etc, and this is something that I always carry with me, throughout my trumpet life…

…sure, of course I lose some of it pretty quickly, if I lay off the trumpet for a couple of months, but the foundation is always there, deep inside…

…and if I had a long break it’s still there, ready to be taken out and just be polished a bit again.

My grandfather is no longer here, but of course I still have his old Arban book. The book has now become so worn out that I do no longer use it, as I’m afraid to destroy the old pages, but I have it on the top shelf , in my music room and I cherish it with all my heart.

So, does this mean that I no longer practice from the Arban book?…

…NO, it does not!

Of course I have bought a new book…

…look, when I say that I think that the Arban should permanently be placed on the music stand in every trumpeters home, I mean it…

…here is my trumpet stand

The Arban book where it belongs. Permanently placed on my music stand.

Why Every Single Trumpet player / Brass Player Needs The Arban Book

It is my sincere belief that every single trumpet / cornet player on this planet should own the Arban method book…

…not only that, but it should PERMANENTLY be sitting on one of the music stands in your house.

Yes, the book is really that good. If you make a habit out of regularly practicing something from the Arban book you WILL become better. Week by week, month by month…

…and year by year.

The arban book contains exercises for improving every single aspect of trumpet playing, but if I had to name the THREE biggest things that you will improve if you regularly use the Arban it would be…

  1. Flexibility
  2. Endurance
  3. Finger technique

…but again, it’s a bit unfair to name only three, as every single aspect of your trumpet playing will skyrocket.

How The Arban Method Book Is Structured

The author of the Arban method book is, as already mentioned, Joseph Jean-Baptiste Laurent Arban. It has since then been edited by the composer and cornetist “Edwin Franko Goldman” and later on, further annoted by the trumpet virtuoso “Claude Gordon”…

…this is another reason the Arban book is so incredible rich and full of knowledge.

In every chapter of the book Arban has written instructions and helpful tips, and under those tips you can find further annotations as Claude Gordon gives his perspective on the Arban trumpet exercises…

…you will learn what to pay attention to, what to do, and also what to avoid in order to get the most out of the exercise and the book in general. This is so great, and even though just practicing the exercises without reading anything will make you a better trumpet player, I highly recommend reading all the text as well.

This is how the Arban book is structured

  • Introduction
  • First Studies
  • Slurring and legato playing
  • Scales
  • Ornaments
  • More advanced studies
  • Tonguing
  • The art of phrasing
  • 68 duets for trumpet / cornet
  • 14 characteristic studies
  • 12 celebrated fantasies, aires and variations
  • Diagram of 1885 cornet
  • Arban’s original text
Introduction

Here you can find things like fingering charts, tips on alternate fingers, instructions on mouthpiece placement, music theory, how to tune your trumpet in a smart way, how to play the beginning of the note (the attack)…

…and so much more.

First studies

In this chapter there are many long tone exercises, but also scales and some more rhytmical and fun exercises, along with some interval practice. Here you will also learn how to articulate effectively and in a good way. There is more, but the book is just too big to mention everything, so I have to name the gist of it.

Personally, I love the “first studies” part, and almost every day I play some of the easier parts of this chapter as a warm up, to get everything going for the day.

Slurring and legato playing

This chapter has every exercise you need for developing great flexibility as a brass player. You will learn slurring and legato playing with good accuracy and also, of course…

…control, speed and virtuosity.

Scales
  • Major scales
  • Minor scales
  • Chromatic scales and triplets

Scales are one of the most important things to practice, in order to become a good trumpet player, and in the Arban book you will find plenty of them. However, not just boring scales, but also scale patterns put into fun and short trumpet exercises.

You will develop serious finger technique and control over your instrument.

This chapter is another one of my favorites. I never really liked practicing “normal” boring scales, but some of the scale patterns you can find in this chapter are very fun to play. A couple of days a week I always try to spend some time playing from this chapter as well.

By the way, perhaps one of the greatest trumpet players who ever lived, the phenomenal Rafael Méndez, use to say that the secret to his incredible trumpet playing could be explained with one single word…

…whenever someone asked him what the hell he had done, to become such an incredible trumpet player, he just smiled and answered…

…”scales!”

Ornaments

Ornaments are trills, half trills, mordents, turns and everything you can find under the sun to “spice up” the music. This chapter is a gold mine for learning how to develop that elegant “musical edge”. To put it in another way, ornaments are “the salt and pepper” of the music…

…as a bonus to this, playing a lot of ornaments will also give you lightening fast finger technique.

When it comes to my own trumpet playing, I like ornaments so much that I have a tendency to improvise and play them perhaps a bit too often. I think most band leaders and cantors have appreciated my ornaments though…

…or perhaps that’s just my lack of social skills talking? 🙂

More advanced studies

In this chapter you will find a lot of interval studies and exercises, all the way from easy ones to incredible difficult exercises. There are also plenty of fingering exercises here and also fingering exercises in combination with intervals…

…or, to put it in another way, exercises where quickly “jumping around” in the trumpet register is practiced.

When I studied trumpet professionally at the Jakobstad’s Konservatorim, I practiced this chapter A LOT. Honestly though, I have to say that I have been lazy with this chapter the last seven to eight years or so…

…I really should take it up again, as I do notice my finger technique becoming worse as I get older. Especially if not actively maintaining it.

Tonguing

Get your tongue moving and master the art of tonguing skillfully with…

  1. Single tonguing exercises
  2. Double tonging exercises
  3. Triple tonguing exercises

It’s all here…

…everything you need to develop a brass playing, super tongue.

There are hundreds of tonguing exercises in this chapter and in the end of the chapter there are tonging exercises implemented into short and fun musical pieces. This makes the practice much more fun.

Tonguing is my weakest point of trumpet playing and I really need to work hard on it to keep up with other players around me. In fact, if I don’t practice tonging for a whole week, I notice a significant decline in my tonging speed. Yeah, honestly I don’t like tonguing exercises…

…I guess we all hate the things we do badly, but..it needs to be done.

The art of phrasing

In this chapter you will find short and beautiful melodies. Play them as written and it is impossible to not grow musically.

I like these melodies. Most of them are fun to play and you can find everything from easy ones to more challenging pieces here. One thing is for sure though, frequently playing from this chapter, will make your phrasing improve.

68 duets for trumpet / cornet

Not much to add here, other than…yes, there are really 68 trumpet duets in this chapter…

…starting to see how big the Arban book must be by now?

About half of the duets are easy and fun to play. The second half is a bit more challenging, however you do not have to be a virtuoso to master every single one of them. They are not incredible difficult.

14 characteristic studies

This chapter presents you with 14 cornet / trumpet etudes. They are fun to play, but you will have to practice quite a lot to be able to master everyone of them because, well…

…they are not easy.

They present you with almost all the challenges a trumpet player can run into, however, if you practiced all the exercises leading up to this point, you will master them, no doubt.

Personally I mastered everyone of the 14 studies, in my music school, but I did have to put in a lot of work to be able to do so.

The thing I struggled with the most, was perhaps my endurance, as the etudes are pretty long and you will have to play for a long time without any rest. However, if you make sure to take frequent breaks, between runs, you will develop some seriously good stamina.

Oh and study #10 was the one I personally found to be the most difficult one, since tonguing is a big part of that etude, and again, that’s my weak spot.


12 celebrated fantasies, aires and variations

These are solo pieces that you can perform with for example a piano accompaniment, if you so desire…

…but be warned, they are NOT easy!

Depending on how fast you choose to play them, you have to be a very good trumpeter to a first class virtuoso trumpet. They are gorgeous pieces though, and setting a goal for yourself to someday be able to perform all of them, is not a bad idea…

…go for it!

Here is one of those fantasies and variations, called “Variations on a theme form Norma”. Take a look at how well Håkan Hardenberger plays it in the video below…

 

Famous Trumpeters Who Used The Arban Trumpet Method Book

Rafael Mèndez

Rafal Mèndez was one of the best trumpet players to ever walk this planet. He put in an enormous amount of practice time and guess what book he used the most?…

…that’s right, the Arban method book.

In case you are not familiar with the master Rafael, and his incredible playing, you have to listen to the video below. Please listen to the whole piece to really appreciate the phenomenal virtuosity.


Maurice Andrè

Maurice André also logged more than 10.000 hours into practicing the Arban book. I read an interview once, where he said that the Arban was the very pillar on which his virtuosity stands steadily upon.

I don’t think Maurice Andrè needs any further presentation, but just in case you don’t know about him, you have to take a look at the video below, as he plays one of the most difficult pieces you can find in the book of Arban.


Timofei  Dokschitzer

Timofei Dokschitzer was a Soviet, Russian virtuoso trumpeter and  Professor of Gnesins Musical College. He had incredible technical trumpet skills and the bulk of his practice time was spent practicing…

…the Arban method book.


Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval  is an American trumpeter, born in Cuba. He is one of the best trumpet players alive today and you can often hear him mention how he loves practicing from the Arban.

Take a look at this interesting video as Arturo listens to some advice given by  the great”Timothy Morrison”, another phenomenal trumpeter, as they play a bit from the book of Arban. It starts at 24:30 into the video.

…Also, take a look at the video below and see how master Sandoval, plays some incredible trumpet stuff, from a live concert:

The Best Place To Get The Arban Complete Method Book For Trumpet

You should be able to find it at any very well-equipped music store, however since brass playing unfortunately is not as popular as playing for example the guitar, you still might have a hard time finding the Arban.

The Arban is available at for example “Sheetmusic Plus” or  you can
click here to check current pricing at Amazon. It’s not an expensive book, but if money is tight for you, you should know that sometimes there are options to buy used ones over at Amazon. Of course they have new ones as well…

-Sheetmusicplus:
 You can click here to check the current price (generally cheaper)

-Amazon:
You can click here to check the current price

Final Words About The Arban

This was a pretty long article, and if you made it this far, by now I’m sure you realize how incredible rich the Arban is. It’s no coincidence that Arban is included in my article Top 6 best trumpet method books, and I seriously mean it when I say, if you play a brass instrument, and you do not yet own the Arban, do yourself a faovr and order one as soon as possible. It’s one of the best investments a brass player can ever make…

…you will be glad you did.

Alright, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading the article. While you are in the reading mindset,  perhaps you would be interested in also checking out my post: 26 trumpet playing tips to become a better player

…I tried to make it full of helpful, and sometimes, a bit unusual tips so check it out.

-Robert Slotte-

Common Questions I get Related To Cornet Method Books And Trumpet Method Books In General

Question: Could you recommend a good trumpet book for improving the upper register. Currently I have a pretty solid “d” above high c, but I struggle if I have to go any higher than that.

Answer: Well, even though the Arban is not a specific book for the high register, it’s still a “must-have” book. This is becaue you need to have a strong foundation in order to start exploring the upper register of the trumpet. So, if you do not already have the Arban, make sure to get that one first and make practicing from it a daily habit.

After that I would recommend you get the Louis Maggio System For Brass book. That book has increased my range quite significantly, and I can  highly recommend it IF you have the foundation in place, that is. So spend a lot of time with the Arban first and then complement with the Maggio book.

You can click here to find the Maggio book on Sheet Music Plus.

Question: Is the Arban only worth buying for aspiring professional brass players? I mean, would an amateur benefit from using it.

Answer: The Arban brass method book is NOT only for professionals. It is for everyone. I started playing from it when I was 5 years old and I still practice from it today. It is a book for beginners, amateurs, professionals and for first class virtuosos. So to answer your question, yes! an amateur would benefit from using it.

…not only benefit, but benefit greatly. Again, it is a MUST have brass book for anyone who plays a brass instrument.

Question: Can you recommend a good trumpet method book besides the Arban? I love the Arban, but it would be fun to get some more books.

Answer: I like the Allen Vizzutti method books a lot. They are very well written, with great exercises and lot of helpful tips. They come in three volumes, and I recommend you get all three, as they are very affordable…

…you can click here to check current pricing at Amazon.

They are also available on >> Sheet Music Plus

Question: I have an old Eb cornet and no Bb trumpet. Would you recommend playing trumpet exercises, like for example the one you can find in Arban on the Eb-cornet or is that a bad idea?

Answer: It’s not a bad idea. In fact, I practice most of the time on my Eb-trumpet, including when I practice from the Arban book. You will have to pace yourself a bit more though, in order to not wear out so quickly, as the Eb-cornet is pitched higher than the Bb-trumpet. If you enjoy playing the Eb-cornet, then just keep playing it 🙂

Question: The amount of time I can spend practicing is very limited. Could I structure my trumpet practice in a way that I only play exercises one day and then the next day I only play music?

Answer: You could, but I don’t think that’s the best way to go about it. Just do both of them the same day, even if you have short sessions due to limited time.

Question: Is the Arban a good book for developing endurance.

Answer: Yes!

Question: Are there any good method books for learning how to play the piccolo trumpet?

Answer: There are some. I talk more about that in another post. I recommend you check out the article 10 tips for piccolo trumpet playing.

Question: Do you think play-along trumpet books are good complement to regular trumpet method books?

Answer: Yes I do. They are fun and some of them are very well-made. It’s a fun way to practice and I have a lot of play-alongs myself. Keep using them!

Question: Can I use  clarinet method book for trumpet?

Answer: Well, perhaps, but it’s not really a good idea. The clarinet does not have the same range as the trumpet (even if it’s a Bb-clarinet) and there are so many other things that are different. Sure you could play some melodies from a clarinet book if you want, but you would still have to get yourself a real trumpet method book, in my honest opinion.

Question: Do you always love practicing trumpet exercises?

Answer: No, not always 🙂


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