If you are interested in learning to play the trumpet, you probably have heard of some of the renowned trumpeters such as Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and others. Perhaps you have been inspired by these legendary musicians and this is why you want to learn how to play the trumpet.
As a beginner at playing the trumpet, you have to start from somewhere. You will need a lot of practice and hard work to attain a virtuous level of playing. Whether you want to play the trumpet simply to relieve stress, play in a band, or impress your friends, here are some beginner trumpet tips that will get you started in the right direction.
Beginner Trumpet Tips
Choose the Right Trumpet
First off, you need a trumpet. Ideally, you should get a beginner trumpet. Whether you buy or rent the trumpet is all up to you. You can check at your local music instruments store whether there are any student trumpets available for sale or rent. Alternatively, you can buy one of these student trumpets that we recommend.
Before renting or buying, find out whether the trumpet is in the B-flat key. This key is the easiest scale to learn.
As a beginner, you shouldn’t really worry much about the trumpet brand you are choosing. Many excellent beginner trumpets come in unmarked brands.
Before buying or renting your trumpet, confirm the following:
- All the trumpet slides move freely back and forth
- The valves smoothly up and down and are not too noisy
- There are no dents on the valve casing
Beginner Trumpet Basics
When you get your trumpet, there are a few trumpet basics you should implement before you start playing.
First off, you should start with some oral practice. Say the letter “M” for an extended time and stop when the sound starts vibrating to an “mmm”. Hold your lips at this position and begin to blow through to create a buzzing sound.
This exercise may feel or sound odd to you during the first few times of practice. However, you will be training your lip position. This lip position is what is required when playing the trumpet.
Keep practicing and lock in the buzzing sound that you must accomplish to play the trumpet.
Watch the video below to learn the basics of trumpet buzzing:
Start Playing the Trumpet
After mastering the basic trumpet lip art, it’s time to start playing. First off, assemble your trumpet, inhale through the mouth, and corner your lips to the proper position. Then, place the instrument on your lips and begin to vibrate using the lips to create the buzzing sound.
Make sure you do not press any of the valves at this point in time. Instead, focus on recognizing the feeling of your lips as they change tightness and start locking into your first note.
The trumpet valves are number one, two, and three. Valve one is closest to the lips while valve three is closest to the bell of the horn. After playing the first note, tighten the lips just a little bit and gently press on valves one and two.
Congratulations! You have officially played your first two notes on the trumpet!
TIP: If you are finding it difficult to master the buzzing sound, you should carry a mouthpiece with you at all times. When you buzz correctly into the mouthpiece, it will make a coherent sound that is similar to a duck call. This is the sound you want to hear.
Learn the Scales
At this point, you are now ready to learn your first scale. A scale refers to a group of ascending or descending pitches that proceed each other based on specific intervals.
Start with C. This note can be played on the trumpet without pushing any valves down.
Play D. Push down valves one and three. If you are finding it difficult to play D, try to barely tighten your lips as you blow.
Play E. Make the lips a little tighter and push down valves one and two.
Play F. Increase your lip tightness and push down valve one.
Play G. Tighten the lips even more but do not push down any valves
Play A. Make your lips a little tighter and push down valves one and two
Play B. Make your lips tight and push down only valve two
Finish with high C: Stop pressing all the valves.
When you finish the above plays, you will have officially played your first C scale (Concert B-flat) on a trumpet.
From here, you can purchase a trumpet music book (check the books we recommend) to learn more. There are also many tutorials on YouTube that can help you develop your skills.
Beginner Trumpet Lessons
Some people attempt to learn how to play the trumpet on their own. However, if you truly want to progress, it would be best to take beginner trumpet lessons, whether in person or online.
There are a number of general things you should know before enrolling for your first trumpet lesson.
What is Embouchure?
To begin, you should understand what an embouchure is how to develop a good one. The shape of your lips and teeth are different from that of other trumpet players. Therefore, there are various embouchures that you can develop. There is no right or wrong embouchure; you simply need to find one that feels right for you.
However, there are some standard rules you should follow to come up with a good embouchure. For example, you should keep the corners of your mouth firm to prevent air from leaking there. Moreover, when going up the scales, it is better to push your lips more to the center rather than stretching them tight.
When you stretch the lips, the lip tissue becomes thin and as a result, you can end up damaging your lips. Moreover, stretching the lips makes the sounds of the notes and scales seem significantly thinner.
Trumpet Embouchure Tips
The most commonly used embouchure is known as Farkas. With this embouchure, you should keep your lips as even as possible. You can get your teeth more in line by pushing your jaw out just a bit.
However, for other embouchures such as Maggio or Stevens, you will need to curl or roll your lips out and in respectively. When rolling the lips, make sure they do not overlap.
As you practice the embouchure, you will begin to note which one you prefer and the general sound from your instrument that it produces.
One of the best ways to get familiar with your trumpet is to play longer tones. Playing longer tones will allow your facial muscles and lips to get used to the vibration. Apart from this, you will learn fast how to attain the desired note.
You can learn more about embouchure from online trumpet course or books. The above is an overview of embouchure and a simple introduction on how to attain it.
Know How to Use the Mouthpiece
It is also important to understand how a mouthpiece works as well as how to use it. To use a mouthpiece, you should position both the upper and lower lips evenly around the blowing area. Position the lips such that they are natural and comfortable. The accessory should be more at the center of the lips; not too long on either side.
Depending on the shape of your lips, it is advisable to have more of the upper than the lower lip on the mouthpiece. The accessory should sit on the lower lip and ensure that there is minimal pressure on the upper lip to allow it to vibrate more freely.
Watch the video below to learn how to blow a trumpet correctly:
Dry vs. Wet Lips
Most beginners wonder whether they should blow the mouthpiece when their lips are dry or wet. The answer to this question is that either way is correct. Wet lips slide underneath the mouthpiece, making it easier for you to adjust your sounds. On the other hand, dry lips stick to the mouthpiece and won’t slip.
Whether to blow the mouthpiece with dry or wet lips is simply a matter of preference. You should test both options to see which one you are more comfortable with.
Correct Breathing Technique
Before putting your lips on the trumpet to blow it, take a full, deep breathe. Make sure you do not lift your shoulders when you inhale. Instead, relax when breathing in. Also, do not hold your air in. Instead, inhale in tempo and blow instantly.
Correct Playing Posture
To play well, you need to hold the trumpet properly and in the correct posture. First off, do not point the bell to the floor. You can keep the instrument point slightly downwards but not too much.
Also, keep your knees unlocked, relax your shoulders, but do not slouch. The arms should be away from the body.
It is important to engage in regular moderate physical activities as this will help you with breathing as well as maintaining the correct posture. If you have poor posture, consider getting a posture corrector brace.
Hold the Trumpet Properly
Whether you are left- or right-handed, there is a proper way of holding the trumpet. Follow the guidelines below:
- The thumb should be on valve one slide (most trumpets have a hook for your thumb)
- Position the ring finger on valve three slide ring
- The middle and index fingers should be on valve three casing
- Put the pinky finger under valve three slide
- Position your thumb in between valve one and valve two casings or in front of valve one casing.
- The ring, index, and middle fingers should be on the valves (finger buttons)
- Keep your pinky finger on the hook. Do not hold the pinky in the hook to avoid excessive pressure.
Avoid holding the trumpet too tightly. Apart from this, support the weight of the trumpet with the left hand so that you can push the finger keys (valves) more efficiently with your right hand.
When pressing the valves, press them straight down with the “cushions” of your fingers. If you press the keys repeatedly diagonally, they can get jammed.
The above is an introduction to playing the trumpet as a beginner. To improve your trumpet skills, it is important to practice for at least 15 minutes a day. However, if you extend the practice up to 1 hours a day, you will progress faster.
Still, 15 minutes is sufficient to improve your trumpeting skills. As you practice, do not get discouraged if you don’t seem to be making any progress. Sometimes, it will take you a few days of practice to get something right.
Be positive and keep practicing. You will soon start to notice your skills improving.
If you want to improve your skills further, download the beginner’s lessons eBook below. This eBook will take you through the basics of playing the trumpet and help you improve your skills in no time through dozens of exercises.
Get the free ebook below.