The following guidelines will help you decide if the trumpet is a good choice for you.
- Lips are thin to medium. Thick lips tend to be better suited for the Trombone or Baritone.
- Front teeth are straight and even; closed teeth meet evenly; an overbite tends to cause problems with tone production.
- Student is able to sing a common folk song.
- Level of confidence is high.
- Work habits are strong and achievement is high.
- Parental support is strong.
Listen to Examples
- Maurice Andre
- Jon Faddis
- Adolph Herseth
- Al Hirt
- Wynton Marsalis
- Doc Severinson
- Allen Vizzutti
Assembly & Care
Avoid costly repairs!
If you can hear it clanking around as you put it together and pack it up, then you need to be more careful.
Assembling the Trumpet
- Put your left thumb and fingers around the valve casings and pick up the instrument.
- Place your left ring finger inside the ring of the third valve slide.
- Hold the mouthpiece at the wide end with your right hand. Gently twist the mouthpiece into the mouthpiece receiver.
Packing Up Carefully
Before putting your instrument back in its case after playing, do the following:
- Press the water key and blow air through the mouthpiece to empty water from the instrument.
- Remove the mouthpiece. Once a week, wash the mouthpiece with warm tap water. Dry thoroughly.
- Wipe off the instrument with a clean, soft cloth. Return the instrument to its case.
- You should have no other materials in your case, except for those it was designed to hold. Do not use force when closing your case or you could damage the instrument.
How to Oil Valves
Valves need to be oiled occasionally. To oil your valves:
- Unscrew the valve at the top of the casing.
- Lift the valve half-way out of the casing.
- Apply a few drops of special brass valve oil to the exposed valve.
- Carefully return the valve to its casing. Turn the valve until it locks into place. When properly inserted, the top of the valve should easily screw back into place.
Grease Tuning Slides
Be sure to grease the slides regularly. Your director will recommend special slide grease and valve oil, and will help you apply them when necessary.
- Improper assembly may damage your instrument
- Damaged equipment will cause problems
To get the best sound or tone quality you should:
- Hold your instrument with good posture
- Play with good breath support, focused airstream, and strong embouchure formation
To control pitch you should:
- Develop good listening skills
- Practice different notes (positions and combinations)
Learn the Notes
One at a time...
Before you learn new songs, you need to learn the notes. Every trumpet player should understand how to read the fingering chart below. Practice holding the trumpet and placing your fingers in all the different combinations for the notes. You will be able to switch faster as your coordination and dexterity improves.
Articulation is the process of attacking and releasing a sequence of notes. Ending the sound is just as important as beginning the pitch. Use the "tip of your tongue at the top of your teeth."
Dexterity is a mental skill or quickness, as well as the readiness and grace in physical activity. In relation to playing an instrument, dexterity is the skill and ease of using your hands and fingers.
Don't get in the habit of curling fingers. Also, you may have trouble if you raise your fingers too far above the keys. Remember that evenness is better than speed. Playing fast, furious, and fumbling is simply not impressive.
How do you sound?
"Buzzing" through the mouthpiece produces your tone. The buzz is a fast vibration in the center of your lips. Your embouchure (ahm'-bah-shure) is your mouth's position on the mouthpiece of the instrument. A good embouchure takes time and effort, so carefully follow these steps for success:
- Moisten your lips.
- Bring your lips together as if saying the letter "m."
- Relax your jaw to separate your upper and lower teeth.
- Form a slightly puckered smile to firm the corners of your mouth.
- Think of the letter "p" and direct a full airstream through the center of your lips, creating a buzz. Buzz frequently with and without your mouthpiece.
Start with the Mouthpiece Only
Using only the mouthpiece, form your "buzzing" embouchure carefully. Center the mouthpiece on your lips. (Your teacher may suggest a slightly different mouthpiece placement.) Take a deep breath without raising your shoulders. Begin buzzing your lips with the syllable "tah" and gradually exhale your full airstream. Buzz through the center of your lips keeping a steady, even buzz. Your lips provide a cushion for the mouthpiece. Strive for an even tone.
Holding the Trumpet
- Arch your right hand like the shape of a "C."
- Place your thumb below the first and second valve casings.
- Place your little finger on top of the hook.
- In playing position, your left hand supports the weight of the instrument. You may only place your little finger inside the hook to support the weight of the instrument when turning pages with your left hand.
Posture & Poise
Sit on the edge of your chair, and always keep your:
- Spine straight and tall
- Shoulders back and relaxed
- Feet flat on the floor
- Music stand height-adjusted to read the music and watch the conductor
Tuning & Pitch Control
Take control of your pitch.
Tuning is the process of matching pitch, which requires two sources: your instrument and another instrumentalist or electronic tuner. Experienced players tune to a "remembered" pitch.
How to Tune
- Warm up thoroughly before tuning.
- Tune to a reliable frequency using written "G," which is "Concert F."
- Play written "G-A-B-C." When approached as the top note of a tetrachord "Concert B-flat" is a great tuning note for all brass.
- Play at a medium dynamic level without vibrato.
- Play the tuning note straight and make adjustments from the main tuning slide.
- "Pull out" to lower the pitch.
- "Push in" to raise the pitch.
How to Control Pitch
Intonation on any instrument can be improved by knowing its natural pitch tendencies. This is especially true with the trumpet as most trumpets share common intonation flaws. Trumpet students should also be made aware of their personal intonation tendencies. Many students play slightly flat in the upper register when they begin to get tired. However, as they become more fatigued and pinch for the high notes, the upper register may become quite sharp. In your daily practice, attention should always be given to Tone Quality and Intonation.
Intonation & Technique
The Trumpet's Natural Flaws
The causes of poor intonation may be inadequate breath support, a poorly formed embouchure, or poor listening habits. However, every instrument has inherent intonation flaws. They are listed below for the trumpet.
Inherent Intonation Flaws
Unlike the woodwind instruments, which have pitch tendencies for different "registers," the brass instruments have different pitch tendencies for each "harmonic level."
- In general, the 7th harmonic is never played because it is extrememly flat (too low)
- Specific notes vary in the other harmonics (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th).
- Most notes in the 6th harmonic tends to be sharp (too high)
- Most notes in the 5th harmonic tends to be flat (too low)
Intonation is the process of moving from one pitch to another pitch at a specific interval (vertically). Intonation is controlled by one person because it relies on a trained ear and acquired listening skills while playing.
Specific Pitch Tendencies
Memorize this information
Sharp tendencies (too high):
- Pitch centering for many notes on brass instruments call for the performer to make subtle adjustments in breath support, air stream, and embouchure firmness.
- The notes listed below that are generally sharp need greater attention.
- In most cases, using trumpet valves in combination will raise the pitch center.
- As valves are used, the tubing length shortens.
- Therefore, in general, the more valves used in the combination, the sharper the pitch will tend to be.
Pitch may be lowered through a variety of techniques including:
- Adjusting the tuning slide (pull out)
- Adjust first and/or third valve slides (pull out)
- Directing the airstream downward
- Change in air speed
- Slight relaxation of the embouchure
- Alternate fingerings
Flat tendencies (too low):
- While flat tendencies for brass instruments are not as prevalent as sharp, some notes may border on flat.
- Generally this calls for the player to make natural adjustments in performance.
Pitch may be raised through a variety of techniques including:
- Adjusting the tuning slide (push in)
- Adjust first and/or third valve slide (push in)
- Directing the airstream upward
- Change in air speed and better air support
- Slight increase in embouchure firmness
- Alternate fingerings
Today is tomorrow's yesterday.
Get more familiar with your instrument and learn who invented it, who composes music for it, and who has mastered the art of playing it.
The origins of the trumpet can be traced to ancient Egypt, Africa, and Greece. The "natural" valveless trumpets were made of wood, bronze, or silver. In the Middle Ages (500-1430), these instruments played only lower notes. During the Renaissance era (1430-1600), they performed at many ceremonial functions. Gradually, players began to develop their high range, especially in the Baroque era (1600-1750).
Heinrich Stolzel introduced a valve trumpet in Berlin in 1814. By 1830, the Bb Cornet was introduced in Europe. Valves made it possible to play all the notes of a chromatic scale on these two closely-related instruments.
Trumpets and Cornets are the highest-pitched members of the brass family. As one of the primary instruments in the sound of concert bands and jazz ensembles, they play melodies, harmonies, and solos. A trumpet is longer than the more conically-shaped cornet.
IV. Composers & Performers
Virtually all important composers have written music for the trumpet, including J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart. Some famous performers are Maurice Andre, Adolph Herseth, Doc Severinsen, and Wynton Marsalis.
Units of Study
Building skill. Developing technique.
Learn about intonation, pitch control, care & maintenance, etc.