Inspiring Musicianship: String Playing Influences in H.L. Clarke’s Characteristic Studies

The following are resources from a presentation as part of the 2023 International Trumpet Guild Conference Research Room. For more background information, read the presentation abstract.

In the introduction to his Characteristic Studies, Clarke alludes to his source of inspiration for his etudes:

…I made a thorough study of violin methods and exercises, and adapting much of the material I found therein, for the needs of Cornet players. As a practical result the Twenty-four Characteristic Studies contained in this book, while of difficult grade, have been adapted from existing violin studies.

In fact, Clarke’s inspiration was Heinrich Ernst Kayser’s book of 36 Studies for violin published in 1848. All but two of Clarke’s etudes (16 and 24) can be traced back to an etude by Kayser.

Clarke/Kayser Comparison Chart

Clarke EtudeKeyMarkingKayser EtudeKeyMarking
1C MajorAllegro moderato4C MajorAllegro
2a minorAllegro28a minorAllegro assai
3D-flat MajorAllegro risoluto11E-flat MajorAllegro energico
4b-flat minorAllegro misterioso25d minorAllegro
5D MajorModerato energico8D MajorCommodo
6b minorModerato marcato19b minorAllegro
7E-flat MajorAllegro moderato32E-flat MajorAllegro moderato
8c minorAllegro agitato6c minorAllegro molto
9E MajorAllegretto guisto3F MajorAllegretto
10c-sharp minorAllegro moderato30d minorAllegro moderato
11F MajorAllegretto13G MajorAllegretto
12d minorAllegro moderato15B-flat majorAllegro moderato
13F-sharp MajorVivace22E MajorAllegro assai
14e-flat minorAllegretto con moto18G MajorAllegretto
15G MajorAllegro ma non troppo12G MajorAllegro, ma non tanto
16e minorTempo di BoleroAppears to be original to Clarke
17A-flat MajorModerato31A-flat MajorAllegro molto agitato
18f minorModerato23f minorAllegretto
19A MajorAllegro vivace27A MajorAllegro vivace
20f-sharp minorFurioso21E-flat MajorAllegro
21B-flat MajorModerato10C MajorAllegro, ma non tanto
22g minorAllegretto35b minorAllegro con fuoco
23B MajorModerato29C MajorModerato
24g-sharp minorAndante cantabileAppears to be original to Clarke

Examples for Comparison

Continuing in the introduction to the Characteristic Studies, Clarke emphasizes several goals of the studies including:

…absolute control of technic, articulation, slurring and endurance….

…[the studies] will help the student play with comfort and ease….

Cornet players should…try to demonstrate their own musical and artistic individuality.

Ex. 1: “articulation”

Kayser Etude #28
Clarke Etude #2

Ex. 2: “slurring”

Kayser Etude #25
Clarke Etude #4

Ex. 3: “absolute control of technic”

Kayser Etude #32
Clarke Etude #7

Ex. 4: “comfort and ease”

Kayser Etude #30
Clarke Etude #10

Ex. 5: “musical and artistic individuality”

Kayser Etude #10
Clarke Etude #21

Sources and Resources


Clarke, Herbert L. How I Became a Cornetist. St. Louis: Joseph Huber, 1934.

Da Silva, Ulisses Carvalho. “Original and Transcribed Etude Books for Viola: A Reference Guide for Teachers and Students.” Ph.D. diss., University of Georgia, 2010.

Gillotti, Nicole. “Exploring Parallels between Trumpet and Violin Pedagogy: Relating Trumpet Adaptations of Otakar Ševčík’s Op. 8 to the Teachings of Vincent Cichowicz.” DMA diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2020.

Madeja, James Thomas. “The Herbert L. Clarke Method of Cornet Playing” International Trumpet Guild Journal 14, no. 3 (February 1990): 4–18.

———. “The Life and Work of Herbert L. Clarke (1867-1945).” Ed.D. diss., University of Illinois, 1988.

Clarke Recordings

Schwartz, Terry. Characteristic Studies by Herbert L. Clarke. N.P., 2010, compact disc.

Wilt, Jim.  Clarke (or Clark) Characteristic Etudes 1, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 21.

Kayser Recordings

Cruz, Claudio. Kayser: 36 Violin Studies, Op. 20. Azul Music, 2020.

Kang, Bochan.  Kayser Violin 36 Etudes.


Clarke, Herbert L. Characteristic Studies. New York: Carl Fischer, 1915.

Kayser, Heinrich Ernst. Elementary and Progressive Studies for the Violin, Op. 20. New York: Schirmer, 1915.

Full side by side compilation of Clarke’s studies with corresponding studies by Kayser:

Duet Parts for the ETSBOA All-East Audition Trumpet Etudes

When preparing for an audition, we often forget to practice for the dreaded sight-reading. But how do you practice reading something you’ve never seen before? By playing things that you’ve never seen before. What better way to practice sight-reading than playing duets with a friend!

I wrote these duet parts to go along with the upcoming East Tennessee State Band and Orchestra Association All-East audition etudes to give you something fun to sight-read. They also might give you a new perspective on the etude in terms of harmony, rhythm, and style. And they simply won’t sound good if you aren’t playing your etude in tune, in time, and with accurate rhythm.

Once you’ve sightread these, you can listen to a performance of these duets (see below) by Dr. Erika Schafer (Professor of Trumpet at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga) and myself.


(Unfortunately, the etudes that go with these duets are available only to ETSBOA members and their students.)

Who to Ask

I was recently playing a piece that was composed by one of the members of the ensemble. When we weren’t sure about something written in our music or needed to make a musical decision we obviously turned to the composer for his authoritative help. After all, the piece was what he imagined hearing, what he envisioned. Many musicologists explore this kind of firsthand input from the urtext (original score) of great works of music penned by composers of the past.

Psalm 124:8 says, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Like the composer of a piece music, God is the one we can turn to for help in all of life. While life often feels noisy (especially with four kids in my house!), somehow the God of all creation hears all of it. He continues to orchestrate all things for the good of those who love him–He’s Intentional.  Not sure what part you are to play in life today?  We know who to ask.

Band and Orchestra Kids Go To Church (Part 3)

Tips for Adding Band and Orchestra Kids to the Worship Team

Believe it or not, there are excellent ways to engage a variety of instruments in a contemporary style ensemble. But if you don’t have any experience with band or orchestra instruments, this can be be daunting, and making it accessible for young musicians can be even more challenging. What follows are some general guidelines and places to begin:

  1. Provide the right written tools. As I mentioned in the first post, we must be mindful of a young (or old) instrumentalist’s proficiency in reading written music or lead sheets. The most common challenge (and one that often stops band kids from even trying this) is transposition or clefs. For example, a clarinetist typically reads music transposed up a step and a violist typically reads alto clef. You may have to do a little bit of homework with the help of Google, a local music teacher, or music notation software.
  2. Ask them to do something within their ability. An acoustic wind or string instrument adds color unlike anything else in the typical worship band. For that reason, what they play does not need to be anything super technical. A simple lick adds a lot to the texture and prevents the student from becoming overwhelmed.
  3. Reimagine electric guitar, pads, or other lines. Oftentimes, these are simple and repetitive lines of music that can be easily played by a wind or string instrument. Also, a string instrument’s line on a recording might work for a different wind instrument. For example, a violin layer could work well on flute, or a cello pad could be covered by a good euphonium player.
  4. Find the jazz band kids. Once a jazz band student has learned the basics of improvisation with chord charts, a typical church leadsheet will be well within their ability.
  5. Don’t play all the time. My biggest pet peeve (and the reason string and wind instruments often sound bad when used in contemporary worship) is that they play too much. Use the colors of these instruments sparingly. Add the instruments just like any other layer and perhaps on only one or a few songs in a given Sunday morning. It’s okay if they don’t play a lot of notes. After all, it’s about serving the church not playing lot of notes, right?
  6. Add an instrumental verse. Many contemporary songs have very simple melodies. Be sure to select the key and range appropriately. And unless a student is accustomed to playing by ear, give them music written in their key to read at first.

A final word of caution: Avoid making much of the young people themselves in the worship service. Don’t stand up and say something like, “Aww, wasn’t that sweet?” Sure, before and after the service you can affirm their contribution to the worshipping community. But make it less about them and more about their giving of God’s gift back to Him and the congregation.

Involving more people and young people in whatever we are used to doing in our worship services can be hugely time consuming. But I believe it is worth it, not only for the students involved, but as a model for the entire congregation and an investment in the future of our churches.

Band and Orchestra Kids Go To Church (Part 2)

Practical Ways to Use Band and Orchestra Instruments in Church

For many churches, a real challenge to engaging band and orchestra instrumentalists is the contemporary style. How do we find a place for string and wind players in services that most often only include guitars, keys, and drums? Whether or not this is the style of music in your church, here are a few great ways to engage young instrumentalists:

  1. Prelude, postlude, or offertory. Instrumental music is perfect for these reflective or celebratory moments. These may or may not be part of your typical Sunday morning worship, but why not try something different every once in a while?
  2. Special seasons. Advent or Christmas are particularly good times to involve band and orchestra kids for several reasons: 1) The traditional, hymn-like genre is typically more accessible to traditionally trained musicians, 2) The music is super familiar to even the kids, 3) They love to practice these familiar songs, and 4) They might even be working on something in school that fits your service perfectly. Try taking a break from the usual worship band-led service and sing carols with instruments. The congregation will love the richness and variety this brings to their singing.
  3. Hymn services. Whatever time of year it is, go retro and sing a service or part of a service with classic hymns. Choose familiar ones, but also find hymns that are easily sung that are rich in theology and particularly fitting for the service.
  4. Youth services. Rather than just having the youth group band lead the service, why not also involve the band and orchestra kids? In fact, if you have a youth group band it would be great to develop worship leading skills of students who play band or orchestra instruments alongside the other instrumentalists and vocalists.
  5. In the worship band. Band and orchestra instruments add amazing color to contemporary worship ensembles—and I’m not just talking about a violin or cello that is often heard in some worship recordings. In the next post, I’ll discuss ways to help young instrumentalists add to the contemporary worship ensemble.