How To Arrange Music For Your Trumpet Quartet

Download exercise sheet here- Hymn for trumpet ensemble arranging assignment #1

Play musical example here-Quartet Hymn arrangement

Before we start, I will assume that you do play trumpet and understand the ranges, both high and low of the instrument. Because of the limited range of the trumpet, this will be the first issue I will address when explaining a simple approach to arranging for a trumpet quartet.

What would be a comfortable range of notes to use when writing for a Jr. High trumpet ensemble?

Even though the trumpet is capable of playing notes below the low F# and is also capable of playing notes above second line C above the staff, for our purpose, we will confine our written notes to low G and G just above the staff. It doesn’t matter how high you write your arrangement, what does matter is how your player will perform your notes that count. If you know that your first part player is capable of playing an F above high C, then you may want to extend his/her part up to a high C or possible a D. Just because they can scream high notes in the band room, it doesn’t mean that they can do it at the end of a concert in front of an audience. Never write to the highest, fastest, longest, loudest level for you need a little in reserve for good performances.

Where can I find music to arrange?

I would suggest if this is your first attempt at arranging music for your new trumpet ensemble, there is no better place to start than in a Hymnal from a church. Most everyone has access to one and the chances are good that you will need to do some arranging for your next church gig. How many times have we been asked to play along on the hymns as the congregation sings but have no music to play? The organist usually suggests that we play the melody. Now THAT’S CREATIVE! After studying this post, you will never go back to just playing the melody again, unless your lazy and if that is the case, you shouldn’t form a trumpet ensemble in the first place.

Your first arrangement for your new trumpet ensemble.

I have used a well known hymn for our example but any hymn could have been used. In your recorded example, it starts with the piano playing the first time through the hymn. After the piano has completed the first time through, the first and second trumpets come in playing the first eight measures of the hymn. The melody is in the first part and the second trumpet is playing a combination (first measure from the alto part- second measure the first note from the bass and the second note from the tenor- third and fourth measures from the alto- fifth, sixth measures from the bass- measure seven uses a sustained Eb from the alto and ends on the alto note in the eighth measure). The third trumpet plays the melody to the end of the verse and the fourth trumpet plays a combination of the bass and the tenor notes to the end. Variation #2 begins with the melody in the second trumpet and the first trumpet plays the alto part up an octave to give the impression of an obbligato part. By putting a couple of trills in, the verse takes on a completely new feel. Your audience will be very impressed with you arranging ability by now. Be sure to ask for your credits to be included in the church service program. Variation #3 has an antiphonal effect as the first and second trumpets play call and response with the third and fourth parts. Variation #4 would work as a closer for it starts with a single trumpet and every four measures another player is added. The last four measures bring in the fourth part which is doubling the first part an octave lower.

In less time than it would take you to drive to the church for the rehearsal, you could have had this arrangement completed and ready to perform. If this seems complicated, relax and go through it again. One thing you must realize is that every note that we used, was already in the hymnal. Every note was taken from material already on the page. I changed very few notes to make this work. Notice the affect brought about by sustaining repeated pitches. When instruments play hymns, they shouldn’t repeat notes. Repeating the same note makes the arrangement sound choppy. Sustaining repeated notes smooth’s out the melodic line of each instrument. The only exception would be the melody line and even in this hymn, there would be no need to repeat the third beat of the fourth and the twelfth measures.

I encourage you to do several hymns in this way and experiment with your own ideas so that when the organist calls and wants you to play along with the congregation, you can rock her/him off  her/his organ bench with your own brass parts.

The ( A) Definitive Collection of Bad Trumpet Jokes

joker-clip-art_434525Q: What’s the difference between a trumpet player and the rear end of a horse?
A: I don’t know either.

Q: What do you do if you see a bleeding trumpet player running around in your backyard?
A: Stop laughing, and shoot again!

Q: How do you get a trumpet player out of a tree?
A: Cut the noose.

Q: What’s the difference between a dog and a trumpet player?
A: The dog knows when to stop scratching!

Q: What do trumpet players use for birth control?
A: Their personalities.

Q: What’s the first thing a trumpet player says at work?
A: “Would you like fries with that?”

Q: Why can’t gorillas play trumpet?
A: Gorillas are too sensitive.

Q: How many trumpet players does it take to pave a driveway?
A: Seven, if you lay them out correctly.

Q: What is a gentleman?
A: Somebody who knows how to play the trumpet, but doesn’t

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To get away from the trumpet players

Q: How do you get a trumpet to play triple forte?
A: Mark mezzo piano on the part.

Q: How do you get a trumpet player to play softly?
A: Take away his instrument.

Q: What’s the difference between a trumpet player and God?
A: God knows he’s not a trumpet player.

Q: How are trumpets like pirates?
A: They both murder on the high C’s

Q: Why does a trumpet have three valves?
A: Because trumpet players can’t count to four.

Q: What’s the difference between trumpet players and government bonds?
A: Government bonds eventually mature and earn money.

Q: How do you know when a trumpet player is at your door?
A: The doorbell shrieks!

Q: What did little Johnny’s mother tell him when he said “I want to be a trumpet player when I grow up?”
A: “But Johnny, you can’t do both.”

Q: What would a trumpet player do if he won a million dollars?
A: Continue to play gigs until the money ran out.

Q: How do you improve the aerodynamics of a trumpeter’s car?
A: Take the Domino’s Pizza sign off the roof.

Q: What do you call a lead trumpet player with half a brain?
A: Gifted.

Q: How many trumpet players does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Five. One to change the bulb and four to contemplate how Louie Armstrong would have done it.

Q: How many second trumpet players does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None – They don’t go up that high!

Q: Do you play the Trumpet Voluntary?
A: No, my parents made me do it.

The best recording of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto is Music Minus One.

Q: What’s the difference between a trumpet and a chain saw?
A: Vibrato, though you can minimize this difference by holding the chain saw very still.

Q: What’s the difference between a free jazz trumpeter and a terrorist?
A: The terrorist has sympathizers.

Q: What is the range of a trumpet player?
A: It depends: how strong are you, and how much do you want to hurt him?

Q: How many jazz trumpeters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Never mind- they can fake the changes.

Q: How many trumpets does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: What’s a lightbulb?????

Q: What’s the difference between a jet airplane and a trumpet?
A: About three decibels.

Q: Whats the range of a solo trumpet player?
A: About 40 yards if its a “super-light” model.

Q: How do you tell a trumpet player’s knocking at your door?
A: The knock speeds up.

Q: How can you tell a trumpet player’s kids at a playground?
A: They don’t know how to swing.

Q: 4 trumpet players are in a mini van. The mini van goes off a cliff. What’s the tragedy in this?
A: You can fit 8 trumpet players in a mini van.

Q: How many trumpet players does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Zero. They just complain about the darkness until a trombone player does it for them.

Q: Do you know the difference between a trumpet player and a pig?
A: You’ve never seen a pig stay around after a gig to pick up a trumpet player.

Q: Why are trombone jokes so short?
A: So trumpet players can understand them.

Q: What`s the difference between a baroque trumpeter and a dressmaker?
A: A dressmaker tucks up frills.

Q: Why are most trumpet jokes written by trombone players?
A: They seldom get jobs.