Why learn your trumpet scales?
The base components of pitch in tonal music are contained in a scale. The pitches are organized differently in each type of scale (which is why major scales sound different from minor ones!), but can be repeated in every key. They progress through different intervals, the most common being whole steps (or major seconds "M2") and half steps (or minor seconds "m2").
Composers use different scales and combinations of different scales in order to make a piece come to life. Many composers use certain scales to evoke emotion, while some use the scales to surprise the listener.
Where do you start if you want to be a better sight reader? How should you prepare to be a great improviser?
Start with your scales! They benefit many aspects of trumpet playing. They are used in almost every style of music too. At the very least, become very familiar with the scales that you use often or perform the most. If you spend the time to learn them all, you will be able to tackle any key that is thrown at you!
This page links to different categories of trumpet scales to print out and practice. These comprise most types of music and come in many forms (major, minor, blues, whole tone, chromatic, etc...) Students that learn and practice them reap great benefits. Musicians that familiarize themselves with the different key areas become better sight readers. Start practicing them slowly, while gradually increasing the tempo. I highly recommend using a metronome to keep yourself honest! It will also help to check your progress.
Once you can confidently play each scale, try memorizing them. Then you know you have mastered each one. It helps tremendously to have the patterns for each scale type memorized.
Practice them articulated and slurred. Click on the links below for pdf's of the different exercises. If you are a beginner, start with the one octave and master those before you move on.