Brad Edwards
Patterns & Snippets: A musical approach to scales and arpeggios
Bass trombone

N.p., , United States
Date of Publication: 2017

Etude book. 181 pages.

Primary Genre: Study Material - method
Secondary Genre: Study Material - etude

Most musicians will agree that while practicing scales is essential, it can easily become boring and monotonous. Brad Edwards, Professor of Trombone at Arizona State University, states that “If we practice scales to be better musicians, why are many scale approaches so unmusical?” Continuing his contributions to trombone pedagogy, Edwards’s new book Patterns & Snippets for bass trombone is the solution, as it is a book that approaches scales with musicality while developing necessary technique. While a tenor trombone version of the book is also available, the bass trombone version of Patterns & Snippets is tailored specifically to the bass trombone.

Patterns & Snippets is divided into three sections: Melodic Variations (100 pages), Stepwise Sequences (40 pages), and Musical Snippets (40 pages). Each of the three sections becomes progressively more challenging through suggested levels that are provided to help map out a suggested curriculum. The ten levels that correspond with the exercises include high school (levels 1-2), undergraduate (levels 3-6), and graduate (levels 7-10). Throughout the book, Edwards includes practice tips, encouragement, and concise instruction.

Part One: Melodic Variations includes 40 examples, each divided into three parts: a) generic sequence, all in 12 keys, not completely written out; b) melodic variation ascending by half steps; and c) melodic variation descending by half steps. Part Two: Stepwise Sequences includes 40 examples mainly focused on rhythmic challenges with motives ascending/descending modally along scale degrees. Part Three: Musical Snippets includes 40 examples from public domain works and short originals composed by Edwards. Particularly helpful are the exercises based on familiar works and orchestral excerpts. For example, there is a sequence that focuses on the syncopated alla breve rhythms found in the excerpt from Berlioz’s Hungarian March.

Similar to other Edwards’ books, the patterns are not always written out in all 12 keys. Instead, it is up to the player to think and to use their ear in order to “flip” the sequence up or down a half step. Additionally, Edwards dictates few dynamics and tempi, allowing the player freedom to make musical decisions based on their own technical abilities. The book is spiral bound so that it will lay flat on a music stand and is well laid out and easy to navigate. Serving as a great resource to compliment the scale practice of players of all levels, Patterns & Snippets is a welcome and refreshing addition to every trombonist’s practice regimen.

Reviewer: Russell Ballenger
Review Published June 15, 2023