About the book

How can we attain fascinating virtuosity in today‘s environment? Virtuosity exists on many levels, not only the technical. Creating practice material that enables students to work on specific areas of technical issues and at the same time develop their musical skills in the field of improvisation was the exciting challenge of “Concepts for Musical Skills on Trumpet”.

The book is written in German and English.
Title: Concepts for Musical Skills on Trumpet
Number of pages: 294
Translation: Matthias Müller
Graphics: Johanna Wögerbauer
ISBN 978-3-200-05259-8


Fascinating recordings

Fascinating recordings document an impressive dynamics in that domain of music's history from which jazz and the many ramifications of jazz-related currents emerged. That period, when a large part of society participated in musical performance and the music of the day was also reflected in public discussion, gave rise to a new art form, with new possibilities of expression. Departing from very simple song forms, space was created for improvisation, which constitutes a key element in all periods of jazz.

The legacy of this evolvement conveys strong impressions of the creative energy that must have animated artists back then. How, then, can we organize our learning environment in today's institutionalized musical education in such a way that takes this powerfully energetic development into account? Miles Davis too went to a music school as a young man, but the learning environment of his generation was defined by the cultural dynamics outside the schools. Bands had bookings in the multitude of clubs often lasting several weeks, and musicians were able to establish their livelihood with music that was intimately connected to the pulse of the times. Life in the jazz clubs with their sessions culture as well as the many concerts that night after night provided audiences with the intense experience of witnessing the performance of jazz greats constituted creative biotopes in the musical centers of the United States.

Jazz at music schools and colleges

Today, jazz is taught at the same music schools and colleges that also teach the music of J. S. Bach, W. A. Mozart and Béla Bartók. These are institutions whose identity has been shaped by classical music, its performance practice and teaching tradition, and where, slowly and occasionally, small departments of jazz have been able to establish themselves since the middle of the 20th century.

How can we attain fascinating virtuosity in today's environment? Here we should note that virtuosity exists on many levels, not only the technical. It requires a lot of patience, combined with being good to ourselves, until we are able to infuse our music-making with playful virtuosity. Anyone who does not attain the frequently ambitious goals within a short period of time is tempted to devote themselves exclusively to searching for problems. We then often prioritize the found »problems«, neglecting potentially strong aspects that could constitute music at a later point in time in other musical environments. In Europe, the musical socialisation on the trumpet occurs primarily within the brass band culture. For the most part there is no room for improvisation in this orchestra repertoire, and in terms of sound one first needs to meet the requirements of this ensemble's repertoire.

About the idea of >>additive<< learning

»Additive« learning is a widely accepted concept, according to which you first need to develop good sight-reading skills, then a fully developed sound range up into the high register and then also play all scales perfectly ascending and descending, before turning to improvisation. This is however simply a misconception. The positive mastery of a certainly large study load that enables us to acquire a sophisticated, virtuoso technique, requires a great deal of motivation that needs to be fuelled with the emotional experience of using the instrument.


In the genre of jazz and jazz-related music, musicians are often equally active both as composers and performers. Improvisation provides material for compositional work and conversely in improvisation we use the compositional idea of a piece as a point of departure. For both disciplines the following questions are essential:

-> What is it in the music I hear that appeals to me in particular? In what way explicitly?
-> How can I process this special quality for my musical work?

All these observations result in the idea of combining right from the start technical exercises with music and the fundamentals of improvisation. A conversation with friends of mine who are ceramic artists has led me to an interesting analogy to sculptural work with clay - ceramic mass in its raw condition: it is not easy - even with great devotion - to create a smooth and unbroken surface on coarse-grained clay. Because even the uninitiated realize this immediately they will not even begin to waste their time in trying to refine the surface of an object. Thus the choice of material (coarse mass) has the effect that it is not surface aesthetics but rather form and expression that becomes the focus of sculptural work. I find this a plausible strategy in the creative work with clay.

What does this sculptural work consist of in music, and what are the at first negligible details, the superficialities when occupying ourselves with our instrument? The answers to these questions will vary from individual to individual, also depending on a musician's particular development. In the course of our daily application to music we are always obliged to make choices about which subject we want to apply ourselves to. For this reason we should always be prepared to review essential questions and discuss them in an inspiring environment.

Applied theory

Developing technique on the trumpet requires practicing sustained notes, doing slurring, tonguing and finger technique exercises. »Concepts for Musical Skills on Trumpet« provides suggestions for practice that help to combine instrumental-technical demands with »applied theory«.

The essential feature here is the mental work involved in playing from memory, which develops our potential for thinking in musical structures instead of reading music. This brings us directly to the heart of »applied theory« which is a constitutive component of improvisation. Only when we have also without the score a clear idea about form, structure and harmonic relations are we free to improvise.

The exciting challenge of this work book was to formulate models and principles for exercises that enable students to work on specific areas of technical issues and at the same time develop their musical skills in the field of improvisation.

Manfred Paul Weinberger,
Weyregg /Attersee, July 2017

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Copyright 2017 - Manfred Paul Weinberger