When Joseph Jean-Baptiste Laurent Arban (1825-1889) wrote his Complete Conservatory Method for Cornet in 1864, I wonder if he knew that it would go on to become the world’s most influential work of brass pedagogy. Over the years I have accumulated several different editions of and excerpts from what is affectionately known as “The Trumpet Bible.”
And I am not the only one. There are versions for trombone, tuba and euphonium, as well as several different versions for the trumpet (or cornet).
One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 is to work through the entire Arban method using Eric Bolvin’s book, The Arban Manual, as a guide. Another one of my resolutions is to write more blog posts this year, after having only produced two posts over the past three years. But there’s a reason for my pathetic lack of blog posts: I wrote two books (Fanfares and Finesse: A Performer’s Guide to Trumpet History and Literature, and A Dictionary for the Modern Trumpet Player).
Anyway, Bolvin’s book takes a musician through the Arban method in a series of 69 lessons broken down into six categories of material (I. Long tones, flexibility; II. Intervals, arpeggios; III. Scales; IV. Articulation; V. Etudes, and VI. Songs, Duets, Solos). It’s a great way to get through a lot of material with a programmed schedule full of variety and some good advice along the way.
Bolvin’s Arban Manual refers to sections of the Arban method using page numbers from the classic edition published by Carl Fischer (Edited by Edwin Franko Goldman and Walter M. Smith) in 1936. These page numbers are universally known (interval studies begin on page 125, arpeggios start on page 142, etc.) and have remained the same in various revisions by Carl Fischer (the 1982 Claude Gordon annotated version, the spiral-bound 2005 Platinum Edition, for example), with adapted front matter pagination to retain the classic page references (triple tonguing begins on page 155!). Even Charles Colin’s edition of the Arban method retains the classic 1936 Carl Fischer page numbers.
Because I am working through the new edition of the Arban method published by Carl Fischer in 2013 (edited by Thomas Hooten and Jennifer Marotta), I quickly ran into a problem using Bolvin’s lesson plan: the page numbers aren’t the same. The new 2013 edition is freshly engraved in a more readable, spacious layout with larger type and improved line spacing (the Characteristic Studies are spread out on two pages, for example). I really like the new 2013 edition’s improved layout, but I’m discovering a few errors as I’m working through it. This is not surprising for a completely new engraving of the material.
After a week of cross referencing my old Arban book from high school with the new 2013 edition to find the right pages, I decided to sit down and create a reference table. I thought it would be useful resource for teachers working with students using the new edition who, like me, have most of the old page references memorized. A preview of the reference table appears below and you can download a free PDF copy by clicking on this link: Arban Page Numbers.
If you’re interested in finding some digital editions, there is a public domain version of the Arban method available as a free PDF download available on the IMSLP site. It’s the original 1893 Carl Fischer edition broken into five parts. For the best new digital editions, head on over to Timothy Quinlan’s brilliant site, qPress.ca. He carries several editions of the Arban method and excerpts from it, including both the classic 1936 Carl Fisher edition (Ed. Goldman and Smith) and the Charles Colin edition. Eric Bolvin’s Arban Manual is also available at qPress along with his other books.
Need some inspiration? Check out Rafael Mendez performing the single tongue exercises from the Arban method on YouTube. Happy practicing!