A Beginner’s Guide to Trumpets

February 4, 2019

The word “Trumpet” takes its root from the French word “trompette” which means “a long, tube-like musical wind instrument”. The earliest trumpet dated back to as far as 1500BC. The Silver trumpets found beneath the ground in Egypt and likewise the metal trumpets found in China validates the pre-historical facts underlying the Genesis of the wonderful story of “Trumpets” and it’s invaluable existence till date.

Over time, trumpets have been used more profoundly in the area of communication and signals strategy in warring times by military organizations. Its usage as a musical instrument started around the 14th and 15th centuries. Nowadays trumpets are used for music art production, especially in live-band performances and orchestras and of course in popular trending music. If you’re interested in the development of the trumpet from the early stages until the great instrument that it is now, we recommend our previous article on the history of trumpets.

Knowing your Trumpets

This long cylindrical piece of instrument is simply a brass wind instrument which is credited for its potency in producing sounds powered by lip vibration against its cup-like mouthpiece. A trumpet originally comprises a rod-like tube shaped into an ellipsoidal loop that flares into a bell. The trumpet represents the group with the highest range within the brass community.

Only few parts of the trumpet are not made of brass. All the screws used on it are steel-made, the water key is usually laced with cork; the rubbing surfaces on the valves must be greased against friction or according to the quality desired, may be electroplated with finely prepared metallic materials of standard quality.

Just like other musical instruments also trumpets underlay generic classifications. According to research over the years, unique classifications include, but are not limited to Brass, Wind and Aerophone. Other common musical instruments with almost direct semblance with trumpets under the above-named classifications are Flumpet, Cornett, shofar, Russian horns, pocket trumpet etc. In our article on the different types of trumpets you’ll find a great overview.

In the old days trumpet did not provide much possibilities in terms of dynamics due to the length of the tubing segment. Nowadays, most modern trumpets possess an average of three valves which enables for seamless change in their pitches. Most have the piston type valves while others have the rotary ones. What type of valves is more popular varies from country to country. For example, in german-speaking countries both types are very common whereas in Northern and Southern America rotary valve trumpets are less popular.

Playing Your Ideal Brass-Made Trumpet Instrument

Trumpets are played by blowing air through the almost-enclosed narrow opening, majorly with the lips which would, in turn, produce a magical but “buzzing” sound that welcomes you to the reality of music play or the concert you have in mind. Sometimes, it can tremble you off your feet if blown accidentally without prior notice or preparedness.

The person playing the trumpet rolls the tip of his tongue to produce a ‘growling -like’ tonality. This is done as if one is to pronounce ‘R’ in Spanish. It can also be played spontaneously using the back tip of the tongue to resonate the uvula thus creating a noticeably different sound. The way the pitch sounds is dependent on the transposition of the trumpet. Additionally, the valves impact the sound. “Open” means all valves in the instruments are in the upward direction and no valve is pressed.

Major Tips and Tricks for Learning to Play the Trumpet

There are some things you need to know before you start aiming at becoming the next Louis Armstrong. We’ve put together some valuable tips & tricks that will help you get started on that great brass instrument. However, you must note that the steps and tips are not limited to these alone, so keep your eyes and ears open and dive into the world of trumpet players.

Buy or rent a trumpet

That’s the first thing to do: owning a trumpet or at least having one ready to play on. Ensure to ask that it is tuned to B flat, since this is the most common type with a great range of sheet music available. Don’t worry if the trumpet you’ll start learning with doesn’t seem to have any label on it. Most students’ instruments don’t come branded.

What’s important is that you ensure your trumpet is in a good condition:
· The valve cover is free of dents.
· The valves move up and down with seamless transition and unhindered sliding.

After you get your hands on the trumpet you need to know how to store it. Ensure your trumpet is kept in its case!

First steps

You can begin by mouthing the letter “M” but stop after the “mmm” part. Remember this position and keep your lips there. Blow via this position with a loud sound.

Practice on the buzzing sound

Now we need to optimize and practice that sound. Here are a few tricks to doing that:
· Pretend as if you have a piece of paper on the tip of your tongue.
· Allow the top of your tongue protrudes slightly.
· Your lips must touch each other to create a sound that sounds like ‘raspberry’.

Get out to start with your Trumpet

Now that you know how to form your lips and tongue, it’s time to test everything on the trumpet. Inhale through your mouth. Set your lips to the proper orientation position. You can then start vibrating into your trumpet with a buzzing sound. Avoid the temptation of pushing any valves for now because you need to feel your lips change their tightness and grip. Push your valves gently on one and two. BOOM!!! You’ve successfully played the first two notes on your trumpet.

Find things that support you in learning the Trumpet

It is hard starting any music instrument on one’s own. We know the struggles and that’s why we’ve created not only an app for practicing wind instruments but also a way to learn them from the beginning. With tonestro’s Learning Path for Trumpet you will get to learn to play the trumpet in a fun and easy way. With bite-sized theory lessons and respective exercises you will start with your first note F4, move continuously along the octave range and even learn how to play specific rhythmic patterns like Jazz.

How the Design of Trumpet could Ignite Your Passion

It is noteworthy that while some trumpets are specially made for beginners and come readily under-priced or fairly-priced, others are intended for the professionals and more advanced players. Whenever you choose to buy a new or used trumpet, make sure you know what you want it to be like. Do you want a gentle sound that will make a great fit for other instruments, or do you want a piercing sound that will make your trumpet stand out? Are high notes important or do you want a trumpet that’s easy to play in every octave range?

In order to satisfy your requirements, manufacturers and vendors would most certainly ask you basic questions like:

  • What genre of music do you want to use it for?
  • What particular ensemble will the trumpet be played in?
  • How loud do you want it?
  • What’s your budget for it?

There are many differences regarding the tuning slides, the bell’s uniqueness, the shapes, if the trumpet’s plated or alloyed of different classes.

You should always make sure that you have the chance to test the equipment and ask the manufacturer or vendor questions too, either in trying to understand more or in asking for little adjustments to be made.

Habits of a professional trumpeter and what you can learn from them

A professional player is one way or the other going to be readily sensitive to his instrument in a way an amateur may consider absurd. That’s exactly where the professionalism lies. The practice time is of course the thing that mostly distinguishes a professional from an amateur trumpet player. Professionals practice several hours every day and in their free time they like to hang out with other great musicians who inspire them to a newer level and heights. They also listen to different styles of music and read transcripts too.

Practicing, listening and hanging out with other musicians are of course things that also amateurs can do. Listening to different styles of music and interpreters can open up your ears for your own playing. Exchanging tips and tricks with other musicians can also be extremely helpful. Not only trumpet players can give you valuable advice, other wind instrument musicians also know a lot about breathing exercises and how to establish a successful practice routine. And of course, rhythmic patterns and how to beat the metronome can be perfectly discussed with drummers and bass players. But one thing is the key to it all:

Practice makes perfect

You’ve now read a lot on how to play the trumpet and what tips & tricks will help you alongside your journey to become a great trumpet player. The most important thing is to simply play your instrument and practice, practice, practice. We know that it’s sometimes hard to find the motivation for practicing because playing alone can become boring after a while.

With tonestro we want to help you with that by giving you live-feedback on your performance. You will see that scoring points and finally getting those three stars is extremely motivating and within a short time you will have improved on pitch and rhythm with your trumpet in a fun and easy way. If you then feel confident enough you can compare yourself with the whole world by entering our weekly challenge and join thousands of other trumpet players. So start your trumpet journey now by downloading our app for free.


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