The trumpet is a brass instrument popular with jazz, classical, and even rock musicians. As with all instruments, mastering the trumpet requires practice and dedication. It begins by learning proper mouth positioning to produce clean notes. Then play your first scales learning the different button combinations. When you've started to improve, advance your playing skills by learning to read music, playing songs, and mixing advanced techniques into your skill set.
Part 1 of 4: Using the Proper Lip Position
Step 1. Press your lips together and hold the corners of your mouth together
Making a sound with a trumpet requires more than just blowing air into it. Use the proper lip technique to get the best shade. Start by saying the letter M, and keep your lips together just as they touch each other. Next, pinch the corners of your mouth. This is the starting position of the mouth to play the trumpet.
- Don't purse your lips. Keep your mouth straight.
- Keep your jaw loose and don't clench your teeth.
Step 2. Push the air through your lips to produce a buzzing sound
This hum produces the sound of the trumpet. Use your diaphragm and push the air through your lips while holding them tight. Produce a buzz while your lips vibrate.
- Imagine the noise you would make if you were imitating a mosquito buzz. This is the sound you need to achieve.
- Do not change the position of your lips as you would when you blow the air. Keep your lips together so they vibrate and buzz.
- Lick your lips first if you have trouble making this sound. It will not work on dry lips.
Step 3. Blow into the mouthpiece when it is not attached to the trumpet
When you feel comfortable buzzing your lips, be mindful of the way you blow into the mouthpiece of the trumpet. Take the mouthpiece and press it gently against your lips. Maintain the same position of the mouth as you have done previously. Then buzz your lips inside the mouthpiece.
- The mouthpiece won't produce much sound on its own, so don't worry if the notes don't sound right yet.
- The nozzle detaches easily. Just wiggle it a bit while you pull it and it'll come out in no time. Do the same to put it back.
Part 2 of 4: Holding the Trumpet
Step 1. Wrap your left hand around the body of the trumpet
When playing a trumpet, use your left hand to hold the instrument and your right hand to operate the buttons. Insert your thumb into the loop attached to the last trumpet valve closest to the mouthpiece. Then wrap your index and middle fingers around the tube section. Put your ring finger through the loop behind the tubes and rest your little finger behind that.
Use a firm but gentle grip. Don't squeeze the trumpet
Step 2. Place your right hand along the trumpet buttons
Rest your thumb between valves 1 and 2. Next, place your index, middle, and ring fingers on valves 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Rest your pinky on the pinky ring behind the valves.
Use a light grip with this hand. Support the trumpet with your left hand, and only use your right hand to control the valves
Step 3. Hold the trumpet gently against your lips
Do not press the trumpet to your lips or you will not be able to use them properly. Hold the trumpet firmly and gently touch the mouthpiece to your lips. Don't push down.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed while holding the trumpet.
- If you are trying to play and the trumpet sound is weak or nonexistent, then your lips may be too far apart. Bring the mouthpiece to your lips and try again.
Part 3 of 4: Play Your First Notes
Step 1. Blow into the inside of the trumpet without pressing any valves to emit the C note
Take one deep breath before you begin. Perform the same lip position as you did earlier, hold the trumpet gently against your mouth, and make your lips buzz. In the case of a normal trumpet (B flat), this produces the note C. Hold the note as long as possible before stopping to take a breath.
- If the sound is weak, you may be pursing your lips instead of buzzing them. Reset your mouth position and try again.
- This first note will probably sound rough and choppy. Don't worry, you're just getting started. Keep practicing to improve your playing skills.
- The act of playing without pressing any button is known as an open position.
Step 2. Vibrate your lips faster to play the G note
Another note that you can play in the open position is G. Play it by buzzing your lips with greater force. Push more air to make your lips vibrate faster. This raises the pitch of the note and produces the G note.
Play the C and G notes one after the other to hear the differences between the two. Pay attention to the sensation when you vibrate your lips on each note. Build muscle memory so you can do both without thinking
Step 3. Press the first and third buttons to play the D note
After mastering the first 2 notes in the open position, move on to playing notes with fingering positions. To play the D note, blow with the same force that you used to play the C note and press the first and third valves.
Step 4. Play the E note by pressing the first and third valves
The next full tone above re is my. Play this note by pressing the first and second valves and blowing with the same force that you used to play the C note.
Step 5. Hold down the first valve to play the F note
The F note is the final note that you can produce with the same level of vibration used to play the C note. Hold down the first valve and blow to play this note.
Step 6. Vibrate your lips more to play the note a
To play the next two notes, play the trumpet with the same force that you use to play the G note. To play the A note, press the first and second valves while using the same force used to play the G note.
Step 7. Press the second valve to play the note yes
The final full tone on a trumpet is yes. Blow with the same force that you would play the G note, then press only the second valve to play this note.
Step 8. Play the 7 notes in order
After playing each note individually, start connecting them. It starts at C and continues up to the note A, playing each note in the middle. Stop and take a breath between each note at the beginning. Then work on making the pattern more fluid, making less of a pause in between.
- When you've gotten good at working on the scale, try playing it backwards. Start at a and play it again until you reach do.
- Then combine the pattern. Play the notes in a different order. See which note combinations sound good and compose your own melodies.
Step 9. Mix flats and sharps while playing
Sharps and flats are halfway between full tones in the musical alphabet. Different blowing patterns and finger positions produce flats and sharps. Learn these patterns to expand your playing ability.
- In musical notation, a # sign means sharp and b means flat.
- To play C sharp, press all 3 valves together. To play D sustain, press the second and third valves. To play F sharp, just press the center valve. Use the C note's own lip vibration to play all three notes.
- To play G sharp, press the second and third valves. To play sustain, press the first valve. Use the G-note lip vibration to play both notes.
Part 4 of 4: Improve Your Skills
Step 1. Learn to read music
Reading music will expand your knowledge of music and make it much easier for you to learn songs. Find an appropriate guide online or work with a teacher to develop your music reading skills. Then practice what you read by playing it on the trumpet.
- There are many resources online that teach you to read music.
- For more information, try taking lessons at a local school or music store.
Step 2. Find songs that are easy to play
After you've learned individual notes and scales, the best way to progress is to combine those notes to play songs. Look online for some easy songs and melodies to practice playing different notes in order. Then move on to playing more difficult songs such as jazz and blues pieces.
- Some popular and easy songs for trumpet are "Happy Birthday", "Ode to Joy", "Kum Ba Yah", and "Frere Jacques".
- Songs don't need to have trumpet sections for you to play. Since you know how to form different notes, you can easily transpose the music to the trumpet if you know the notes of the song.
Step 3. Practice screaming the notes
Screaming, or yelling, is an advanced technique by which trumpet players jump several octaves during a single breath. Professional trumpet players often use this technique during solos. Advance to the next level by working on this technique.
- To squeak, vibrate your lips very quickly and push out a large amount of air. This produces very high notes from the trumpet.
- Try to manage the high-pitched sounds of the trumpet first, then work on controlling them better.
Step 4. Listen to the great trumpeters for inspiration
As with any instrument, you must learn from the greats if you want to be a good trumpeter. Come back and listen to some of the greatest trumpeters in history to hear how they have used the instrument. Luckily, most of this music is available on the internet for free, so tracking it down is easy.
- Some of the best trumpeters are Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie. Listen to his recordings to hear examples of expert performance.
- Also learn how these trumpeters have practiced and played. You could adopt some habits that improve your acting ability.
- Jazz music has especially good trumpet sections. If you still don't like it, try listening to some classic jazz records for more great performances.
- Keep your shoulders and upper body relaxed when playing. If you are tense, you will not be able to play with much power.
- Warm up by inhaling (through the nose) constantly for 8 counts and exhaling for 8 counts, then inhaling for 4, exhaling for 4, then inhaling for 2, exhaling for 2, inhaling for 1, exhaling for 1. Do not lift your shoulders when breathe quickly.
- Remember to practice as much as you can. Even a few minutes a day will produce improvements after a while.
- Learning an instrument can be frustrating. Do not be discouraged. Commit to practicing regularly and you will start to notice improvements.