I love practicing scales, but I have a confession…
I’ve never made it through the entire Baermann scale book (Division 3, Op. 63). I’ll pick bits and pieces to practice occasionally, but I have never developed a regimen to complete the entire book in a structured routine.
Don’t get me wrong: I practice scales every day, but I like variety. I’ll use the Baermann for a few days, then switch to Klosé or Stievenard, then practice without any book at all. I like to keep things interesting.
I’ve used many scale books throughout the years, but my favorite will always be the Baermann. Which is why I decided to create the Baermann Boot Camp, a practice routine to complete the entire Baermann 3rd division in one month.
I’ve divided and organized the Baermann into three main categories to be practiced each day:
- diminished 7ths
- technical exercises
The Baermann boot camp begins with only 2 scales a day (one major, one minor) and gradually increases to 4 scales a day, then 6 scales a day by the end of the month. I divided the longer technical exercises at the end of the book into smaller, more manageable sections to practice each day. If you follow my routine, you will have practiced the entire Baermann scale book in one month.
Here is the Baermann Boot Camp calendar and guide:
A few notes:
- I have given tempo recommendations, but the tempo will vary according to ability levels and prior scale experience. The goal of practicing scales is learning them smoothly and cleanly first and foremost, and only then increasing the tempo to improve technique.
- I used the Carl Fischer edition (edited by Gustave Langenus) of the Baermann Division 3. This is my preferred edition to use for this boot camp. Another excellent edition of the Baermann scales was written by David Hite and it is called Foundation Studies, Op. 63 and is published by Southern Music Company. The Hite edition includes more exercises (such as 4ths, 5ths, etc), so feel free to include those into your routine if you would like.
Here’s a breakdown of day 1:
C, a (All major scales are capitalized, and all minor scales are lower case.)
Each scale should be practiced in the following patterns:
- interrupted scale
- returning scale (major scales only)
- broken chords 1
- broken chords 2
- chords of the 7th (major scales only)
- diverse chords (major scales only)
- Pattern 1: E G Bb C# (Diminished 7ths appear twice in the Baermann book, and each pattern is about 40 measures total. You should practice each pattern in both diminished 7th exercises.)
Octaves (or other technical exercise for the week):
- Octaves measures 1-8 (I gradually add sections to the technical exercises so that you can play through the entire exercise by the end of the week.)
Although this may look like quite a lot to practice each day, it’s only about 20-45 minutes. Like any boot camp, some days are more difficult and may take longer – I’ve included 4 days with 12 scales, and one day with all 24 scales.
To keep boot camp morale high, this is intended as an interactive challenge. Share with your clarinet friends and pledge to complete the boot camp together. You can even use the hashtag #baermannbootcamp to connect with other clarinetists and show your progress.
There are no wrong ways to practice scales (except to not practice them at all), and I hope my Baermann Boot Camp challenges you and inspires you this month!