Clarke Variations Introduction


First, I would like to acknowledge profound effectiveness of Herbert L. Clarke's Technical Studies as a time-honored method for trumpet technique development and maintenance. It's appearance on every trumpet literature list and bookshelf in every trumpet studio attests to that efficiency. After using the book for 25 years in my own teaching and practice, I have decided to humbly offer, to the trumpet community, a set of supplementary exercises and variations that I have developed based on the material in the original text.

What I have created here is based on my own needs and the ongoing needs of my students. Those needs, among others, include the necessity of rotating through similar material on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, while sticking to the same subject matter and fundamental topics.

It is not my intention to compete with the many warm-up and technique books that are currently available to us. I only wish to offer some creative variations that I have found useful for my students and myself. My assumption is that if it has helped us, it may help others. One of the appealing things about Clarke is the practical and no-nonsense nature of the drills. There is nothing offered that asks us to waste our time on anything that is not absolutely essential. I only hope I have been able to follow along with that concept in my work and teaching.

These variations should only be considered after the student has made the most of what is available in the original version of this most useful and time-tested method. This work should be viewed and used as a supplement to that material. Work with these exercises and suggested variations supposes that the student has reached a level of being able to transpose easily. Hence, this work should begin no earlier than the 4th year of private study or once the student has reached an "upper-intermediate" or "early-advanced" level of playing.

The modal variations suggested within have grown out of my jazz studies and the needs of contemporary orchestral music. All of the basic books avoid reference to tonality outside our Western Tonal System (major and minor). In my opinion, the methods that have appeared in the last 20 years that attempt to address this concept have grossly missed the point. Why do we need to change the "nuts and bolts" (material) of our fundamental work in order to "update" it? In my mind, only a shift to a broader tonal spectrum is necessary-the rudiments must remain at the foundation of our daily work.

After giving a fair try to virtually every fundamental method available to a modern trumpet player (all of which remain in my file cabinet rather than my travel satchel), I still return to Clarke as one of my first and best basic workbooks. I hope you will consider doing so as well-with these possible additions.

Best Wishes,
Pete Estabrook B.M., M.F.A
(summer 2006)