• Mark Dulin

Learning scales without a scale sheet!

Using a scale sheet is the biggest impediment to young players learning scales for the first time. If students have learned chromatic scales first then they have all the tools necessary to achieve the task at hand. All major scales have the same architecture. Key signatures simply move notes up and down to maintain this architecture. Instead of using a scale sheet I suggest students memorize the order of sharps and flats and the number of sharps and flats for each key. The act of actually copying the chart below several times (often the same way multiplication tables are learned in a math class as well as verbally speaking/singing note names and fingering the scales on the trumpet several times before actually playing them will ensure correct technique right from the start and speed up the learning process. At this point students can just see each scale fits neatly into a simple formula. For example the D scale would work like this:

1. The D scale has 2 sharps

2. The first two sharps in the order of sharps are F# and C#

3. Play from D to D with F# and C# as the only altered notes.

4. Result: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D

Order of Flats BEADGCF

Order of Sharps FCGDAEB


Flats Sharps

F=1 G=1

Bb=2 D=2

Eb=3 A=3

Ab=4 E=4

Db=5 B=5

Gb=6 F#=6

Cb=7 C#=7

While this chart teaches the same information as the “circle of Fourths” and “Circle of Fifths” it has been my experience that students engrain scales much quicker this way. I also suggest learning traditional technical studies such as Clarke and Vizzutti in tandem with scale practice.

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