In this blog post I am going to review the BrassTrial Personal Workbook by Michael Müller and Maria Sturm both of whom are talented brass players, arrangers and composers. The book has a treble and bass clef edition and to be honest could be used by any brass player not just euphoniums. The 88 page book is very well laid out and just the right size and weight to keep in your bag or case.
Of course, as brass players we know of so many study books available to us and if you have an Arban Method then you could ask the question, "Do you ever really need another study book"? In a lot of cases I find that the Arban and a metronome is sufficient for all brass players to develop what they need.
Many study books have copied or adapted exercises from the Arban but this workbook is different. The thing I like the most about this book is that it has original compositions, arrangements of melodies like Amazing Grace, Czárdás and many more all scattered throughout the book. In the introductory text it says in bold, each exercise should be seen as a piece of music instead of merely a technical exercise, and this is made even easier because of the clever way the book is laid out. A study book with pages and pages of exercises, like in the Arban Method is difficult to be seen as anything other than technical exercises so I really like how this book avoids that happening. There are some brilliant original compositions like Fire, Thunder, Effect and By Your Side. They would make excellent studies for any student to work on to develop specific areas of technique so this book is definitely not trying to reinvent the wheel.
The book covers every part of brass playing and has detailed text along the way to help explain. It also has some backing tracks which can be found at www.brasstrail.de. It has fingering charts, circle of fifths charts and personal practice journal pages which is extremely useful. A player who is returning to playing after a break would greatly benefit from the structure this book offers. The opening text also states how a player can increase the difficulty of exercises by changing metronome tempos or using rhythmic alterations but this sort of thing should be done in partnership with a good teacher because without this the correct disciplines might not be gained. Often students who are in too much of a rush to improve will increase tempos too soon, so where possible seek the guidance of a professional teacher alongside using a book like this to assist with your progression.
There are a couple of areas I would have explained differently like the use of mouthpiece buzzing and 'tongue striking' isn't a term I like but any student brass player or person looking to improve their playing should always find what works for them anyway and be willing to experiment with the materials they have. My earlier blog goes into detail about ways to think and practice correctly and has been helpful to many so if you wanted to read it click here.
I like that the book has sections on breathing, dynamics and intonation, sometimes areas which brass players do not have in their own daily practice routine. I have personally enjoyed using this book for my own practice recently and especially liked the fact that your first playing of the pieces equates to excellent sight reading.
I have no affiliation with this product and will not earn any commission from this review. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh new approach to their practice and especially to anyone who wants to use one study book to get their playing back up to good standards following a time of no playing.
The book is sold here - www.brasstrail.de
Thank you for reading this review and if you have any questions feel free to email me or ask in the comments.