Air and Variations is designed to expose students to the variation form through the use of contrasting styles, tempi and meters. The work opens with a statement of the theme presented by flute, clarinet and trumpet in legato, lyric style. Variation 1 is a "toccata" featuring marcato eighth notes, providing a rhythmic version of the theme. Variation 2 is a "romance" with the theme presented in a slow, expressive setting. Variation 3 is a gently lilting "waltz" with the theme appearing in flutes and trumpets. Variation 4 is a stately, triumphant processional-style "march" which provides the conclusion of the work.