The Arban Manual

The Arban Manual is a 69 lesson course that takes you through the entire Arban Method. Now the mystery has been solved. Eric Bolvin went and made a road map of the worlds most famous trumpet method. He takes you step by step and helps you to cover things in a logical and timely manner.

“Your organization of the Arban exercises is excellent and covers many playing difficulties in a logical and efficient manner.” – David Hickman (Arizona State University, Noted soloist and clinician)

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This book is designed for all brass players although I’ve known woodwind players that have used Arban. Arban is not a beginner’s book and you should have a comfortable range of A above the treble clef for trumpet or third ledger line G for bass clef instruments before you start this program.


Arban’s Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet and Arban’s Famous Method for Trombone have been two of the most widely used brass books for over 100 years. The Arban Manual is simply a guide in how to practice Arban. The Arban Manual will take you step by step through the entire Arban method. The Arban Manual is not a technique book and the practice advice should work well with most brass methodology.

The Arban Manual has organized lessons to be given through the Arban book on a week to week basis that is really fun to look at and check out. One would need to have a certain amount of ones trumpet act together first but it’s a well designed, imagination spurring work that deserves a big bravo. I have much respect for folks who go to a lot of work to organize things like this.” – Manny Laureano (Principal trumpet, Minnesota Symphony Orchestra)


A minimum of one week should be spent on each lesson, although many choose to spend longer. If you are having trouble with one part of a lesson, you may wish to spend more time on that part. Most lessons are divided into six parts that should be practiced in the prescribed order. It is recommended that you rest between each part and try to spread your practicing throughout the day as best you can.

Range Considerations

The student who is ready to play from Arban should have a “usable range” up to A (concert G). Many of the easy studies do go this high. Although there are not many really high notes in Arban by today’s standards, some of the studies can be quite taxing. An example of this is the interval studies on p. 126-129. If you are not able to reach the highest keys at first, go as far you can comfortably, be sure to rest properly, and try to go further the next day. Remember, you will likely play from Arban in one way or another for most of your life, so don’t rush your progress.

Warming Up

One of the shortcomings of Arban is the lack of solid warm up material. Part I of each lesson is designed to be a warm up. Some teachers and students may find this inadequate for a warm up. Therefore, feel free to supplement the lesson plan with a warm up of your choosing. After your warm up, continue with Part I of the lesson.

Performance Etudes

I’ve designated some of the more melodic and well balanced etudes as “performance etudes”. These can be used for auditions or recitals and should be prepared for that purpose. Some teachers or students may have other favorite etudes that they may choose to use for the purpose of performance. All of the characteristic studies and celebrated fantaisies are considered performance pieces.


Models are different ways of playing an exercise. Many models involve using different articulations on a given exercise. Arban’s use of models is not extensive so I have chosen to expand on it, giving the student even more practice material. All models must be practiced thoroughly as prescribed in the lessons.

The Hard Stuff

At some point in your study of Arban you may come across something that you just can’t play, or play at tempo. This often involves triple or double tonguing. Don’t let this discourage you. Practice it diligently and slowly. You may want to stay with it for more than one lesson. After practicing the difficult etude for at least a month, make a note of it and return to it later. Brass playing is a lifetime commitment and you should continue to grow throughout your playing career. Many of the world’s top players can’t play everything in the Arban book.

Multiple Tonguing

Selecting the best syllables for multiple tonguing is often a problem for brass players and teachers. Although Arban recommends “tu ku”, many have had success using “tuh kuh”,
“duh guh”, “tee kee” and many others. Finding your best syllables may take some experimentation.

Extending Exercises

Beginning with Lesson 44, some of the exercises are reviewed and extended. This is to provide more upper range work, more key work and different models.

Characteristic studies and solos

As Arban says on p. 284; “At this point my task as professor will end”. Therefore, my practice instructions for this section are very general. One could write a book on how to approach these studies and perhaps someone will. Good luck and keep on practicing! This book is dedicated to my trumpet teacher, Claude Gordon, who taught us How to practice, What to practice, and When to practice.

First Studies

Studies #1-8 are introductory exercises and should be played before starting this program. Arban is not a beginner’s book and as previously mentioned, you should have a comfortable range of A above the treble clef for trumpet or third ledger line G for bass clef instruments before you start this program.