Category Archives: Trumpet for Beginners

How And What I Practice

PracticeI have had a few readers ask what they need to practice to be a better player. Without hearing or visiting with these people, it would be impossible to suggesting what might work best for them. The best I can do is to share a typical hour practice session which I go through each day.

I will be the first to say that what I do “might” improve your playing and with that said, let me explain how and what I run through each day. I am a strong believer that practicing the same material every day becomes boring and for that reason I have three routines I alternated with when boredom begins to set in. The material below is one of three routines I use.

Practice routine #1.

The Warm-Up

The use of a chromatic exercise to warm up on is very important in my practice and if you do not use a regular warm-up, this might be of help to you. The reason I use a chromatic warm-up is because moving upward by half steps is the best way to reach high notes. The use of a chromatic scale gives the embouchure only slightly more work load at a time. Making wide skips such as octaves or fifths force the embouchure to make sudden and exaggerated adjustments which I feel are not productive in a warm-up exercise.

Lip Flexibility

After the embouchure muscles have been gradually warmed-up, adding lip flexibility exercises gradually increase the work load on your embouchure. Improving lip flexibility is vitally important for a complete embouchure development and for that reason I strongly recommend some flexibility exercises in your practice routine. As you increase strength in your embouchure it is important to maintain good flexibility for strength without flexibility is not helpful in the improving of your playing.

Finger development

The ability to move your fingers quickly and be able to perform in all fingering combinations is also important and for that reason I have included at least one finger exercise from the Clarke Technical Studies book each day. If you don’t have this book, be sure to pick one up for it is the best finger exercise material available.

Etude Playing

The best way to improve in a melodic and musical fashion is to regularly practice melodic etudes. More often than not, students think that the best way to practice is to keep the mouthpiece on the lip and play until there is nothing left. To guard against this in my own playing, I practice a “rest as much as you play” routine. I use this system in all of my practicing and it has been proven to be the most productive routine of practicing for at the end of your practice session, you lip should feel “used” and never “abused”.

In the following posts I will be offering practice material in the form of downloadable PDF files as well as an accompanying MP3 recording which you can download to your desktop and use in your own practice sessions.

Some may find this material too advanced for their current level of playing and to those players I suggest that you use these recordings as examples of how you could set up your own practice material. And for those who find the material less than challenging, I suggest that you record yourself in the same manner on more advanced material.

If you do not have access to a recording device or software for your recordings, read my post which will help you in that area…………… Using Technology To Improve Your Trumpet Playing- Using An Audio Recorder

In my next post I will cover the warm-up section of my practice routine and I will also include printed exercises as well as an accompanying recording which will get you started.

When practicing this material you will begin to understand the reason I have recorded my own practice exercises. Once you begin the recording, you tend to continue through to the end. You will also realize that practicing with a recording seems to make the time pass much faster. This “Play/Rest” routine is gaining popularity and I wonder what took the trumpet world so long to get on to the concept. I have used this routine most of my playing career and to explain that more fully, check out my post at …………… Rest As Much As You Play.

Welcome aboard and to those who asked for help on how and what to practice, I hope this gives you some helpful ideas as to how you can adapt this to your own practice routine.

A Beginner’s Guide To Transposition

Does your hair stand on end when you are faced with a part which requires transposition? Until you become familiar with playing notes that are not there, you will be uncomfortable. I will try to give you some helpful tips on how to reading transpositions at sight.

Learning to transpose music (which way and how far?)

Step #1

Extend your left arm to full length. Bring the palm of your hand in to face you. Think of each of your fingers as lines on a staff. Your thumb is now top line F, your first finger is now the D line, your middle finger is now Bb, ring finger G, little finger E.

Step #2

Establish what key the instrument you will be playing is in (Bb trumpet, D trumpet, C trumpet, etc.)

Step #3

Place the pitch of your instrument on your hand (staff). ie. Bb trumpet is still on your middle finger, C trumpet between your first finger and your middle finger, D trumpet on your pointing finger.

Step #4

Decide what transposition you will be adjusting to  (D music, C music, A music, etc.)

Step #5

If you are playing a Bb instrument and the transposition is for a C instrument, you first establish where you are (Bb middle finger) and where you are going (C one step above).

If you are playing a C trumpet and your transposition is for a Bb trumpet, you establish what you are playing on (C) and where you are going Bb and on your hand you can easily see the adjustment is down a second.

Remember this rule- Where am I on the staff and where do I have to go to get to the correct transposition?

The easiest and most common transposition is from Bb to C (up a second). I became fluent in this transposition after playing many years with a polka band in Illinois. Everything we played came from a fake book which was written in concert pitch (C). The best way to learn this transposition is to gather as many piano books with familiar songs as you can find. I would suggest that you begin with Christmas songs. Not because this is December but because you recognize the melodies and what you have to get used to is seeing one note and playing another. You will know at once if you have made the correct transposition if you know the song.

Not only will you have to move the notes around but you will also have to move the key signature. To do this, just use the same left hand you used before. If you are now in the key of F and you had moved up one step (Bb trumpet to C trumpet) do the same thing for the key (F up to G).

Now let us walk through a more difficult transposition-

You are playing a Bb trumpet and the music is written for a D trumpet. The rules are the same.

  • Left hand up
  • Establish Bb on your middle finger
  • Find D a third above Bb
  • Transposition is up a third
  • The part is written in Bb (two flats)
  • Your transposed key will also be up a third (D- two sharps)

Here is one more example-

  • Left hand up
  • You are playing a D trumpet (pointing finger)
  • You need to transpose for C trumpet (pointing finger to space below) or down a second
  • If your music is in the key of C (no sharps or flats) you transpose the key down a second (C to Bb).

This exercise would also fit a case where you are playing a C trumpet and reading Bb music.

Now that you hopefully understand the concept, you will need to be familiar with the terminology used to instruct you to transpose. I have included some of the most common terms for you to learn when first learning to transpose.

English- Trumpet- C,D,Eb, E, F,G,Ab,A,Bb,B,major,minor,flat,sharp

Italian- Tromba- DO,RE,MIb,MI,FA,SOL,LAb,LA,Sib,maggiore,minore,bemolle,diesis

French- Trompette- UT,RE,MIb,MI,FA,SOL,LAb,LA,Sib,SI,majeur,mineur,bemol,diese cis

German- Trompete- C,D,Es,E,F,G,As,A,B,H,dur,moll,ces

The material included in this post will get you started on your path to successful transposition. When you are performing orchestral material you will be expected to transpose at sight and in order to increase the limited knowledge you have gained here, I would suggest that you purchase the following book for additional study material-

One Hundred Studies for Trumpet by Ernst Sachse

Trumpet Accessories for Beginners

trumpet accessories
Photo credit: brillisbeasty on flickr

Accessories which are designed and sold for the trumpet player can be as endless as fashion accessories available to women. Each is professed to be absolutely essential for a good performance. And in the same way some fashion accessories in women are useful and sometimes just stupid, so it is true in the trumpet world.

In order to simplify the many offerings, I will divide them into two categories – “must have accessories” and “nice to have accessories”.

“Must Have” Trumpet Accessories for Beginners

  • Trumpet cleaning kit- Most manufacturers include a cleaning kit with the new instrument. This kit will contain the following items- a trumpet snake (a long, metal spring with brushes attached to each end), valve oil, slide grease, a mouthpiece brush, a valve cleaning brush, instructions, and a polishing rag.
  • Trumpet Mute - The beginning student will be expected to own and use a mute which is inserted into the bell and changes the volume as well as the tone of the instrument. Composers indicate muted sections with the word “mute” and indicate the removal of the mute with the word “open”. Even though there are numerous types of mute available, only the straight mute will be required for the younger player. Most music stores will have the straight mute manufactured by the Humes & Berg company and this will work well for the beginner for it is a good, serviceable mute. Usually the more advance players will upgrade to a higher quality and more expensive mutes.

“Nice to Have” Trumpet Accessories for Beginners

  • Jo Ral Grime Gutters - If, after playing for a long period of time the oil from the valves begins to drip on your lap this will prevent it from soiling your cloths. It is an attachment that slips over the bottom of the valve section and catches the excessive oil.
  • Leather Specialties Special Trumpet Hand Guard - Hands perspire and perspiration can affect the surface of your instrument. Most people have no problems as long as the surface of the instrument is washed periodically. For those like me, the acid in the system can eat into the surface and create premature wear. This attachment is wrapped around the contact points were you hold the instrument.
  • Brasswind Silver Trumpet Protector Bag - This soft bag is used to protect silver plated trumpets from minor scratches while being stored in its case.
  • Bach Instrument Polishing Gloves - This is just an easier way to polish a trumpet
  • Yamaha Professional Cleaning Cloth - If your trumpet is silver plated, get it and use it.
  • Bach 1800B Mouthpiece Spray - This is used to keep your mouthpiece smelling fresh and clean.
  • Yamaha Lacquer Polish - A regular coat of polish will prolong the appearance of lacquered instruments. Most furniture polish will work as well.
  • Woodwind & Brasswind Leather Mouthpiece Pouches - Mouthpiece protectors do exactly what they say they do but in most cases, the young student will either have his/her mouthpiece in the horn or stored in the case so a pouch, although appealing, is not essential.
  • Herco Trumpet Spitballs - When these were first introduced, we all had to have them. The concept is this- between regular, full cleanings, you placed one of these small, barrel shaped, cleaner impregnated foam into your lead pipe and blow. In an instant, it would be forced completely through your trumpet and taking with it all of the “crud” that had accumulated since the last cleaning. Great idea! On one of our brass quintet tours, one member of our group demonstrated it to our young audience. When we returned to campus, we had threatening mail from our host director saying that at the beginning of his next rehearsal, every brass player had inserted one in their horns and on beat one of the first number, pelted him with dozens of these projectiles.

As you can see from the products I have listed, only a younger player should be interested in adding them to their collection. For my more advanced friends, I will be reviewing the newer products which would appeal to their needs such as gig bags, hard cases, weighted valve caps, pressure node enhancers, etc.

Be sure to bookmark the site or subscribe to our email newsletter for future updates.

Leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions or questions about must have trumpet accessories for beginning trumpet players.

Getting Started Playing Trumpet

So you want to play trumpet/cornet!

Beginning Trumpet
Photo credit: jmorale9 on Flickr

In everyone’s life, we will eventually have to make decisions. If you are considering the possibility of starting to learn to play a trumpet/cornet, you might be interested in the following information.

“Why should I learn to play a trumpet/cornet”?

Learning any instrument has been proven to build confidence in ones self as well as add to social skills and personal pride of achievement. With that said, why would anyone decide on the trumpet?

If I learn to play the guitar or piano, I can play both melody as well as chords which sound more complete than does the sound of a trumpet/cornet which can only play one note at a time”.

This is true. The trumpet can only play one note at a time (sub tones and harmonics may be discussed at a later time). The trumpet is manly limited to melodic playing.

“I can play much louder on an electric guitar than I can on a trumpet/cornet”.

This is also true for the dynamic range of a trumpet is limited by the amount of air passing through the mouthpiece not by the power of an amplifier.

“I see more people playing drums on television than I do trumpets/cornets”.

This is also a fact.

“So why should I learn to play a trumpet/cornet”?


6 reasons you should learn to play a trumpet/cornet

  1. The trumpet is used in every style of musical performance.
  2. Trumpets are usually the leading or dominant instrument in most ensembles.
  3. The sound of the trumpet can range from a soft, expressive tone to the most powerful.
  4. Trumpets perform well in both classical and popular styles of music.
  5. Technically speaking the trumpet is as agile as any other musical instrument.
  6. Even though learning to play a trumpet takes regular practice, it’s worth it.

still want to play a trumpet, now what do I do?

If you have been approached by a music teacher in your school to begin study on an instrument, then that would be the person to contact. If you have always wanted to play trumpet but never got around to it, continue reading.

I have been approached by older individuals who have felt the need to learn or re-learn an instrument. The reasons for this could be many but the desire to get back into music or begin an instrument is increasing in older people. If you qualify as this type of individual, I have a few suggestions.

How do I get started learning/relearning to play the trumpet/cornet?

If you are in school, contact your music teacher and follow his/her instructions. If you want to begin learning to play trumpet/cornet on your own, I would suggest the following-

  1. Contact your local music store to set up a rental program for an instrument.
  2. Find a local trumpet/cornet teacher to schedule a private lessons.
  3. By the time your rental program has ended, you should know if you want to continue.
  4. If you still want to continue, the next step is to purchase a quality instrument.

If you have played trumpet/cornet before and still own an instrument, I suggest the following-

  1. Check to see if your instrument still works
  2. If the valves move up and down easily after oiling them, continue to suggestion 3.
  3. Check the water key (NOTE: water key, NOT SPIT VALVE) for leaks.
  4. Clean your instrument
  5. Begin regular practice

A Breathing Lesson With Don “Jake” Jacoby

jakeVoices from the past bring back wonderful recollections of people who have influenced our lives and for that reason I have posted this lecture given by one of my former trumpet teachers, Don Jacoby. The tone and mannerisms in this recording make it almost as if “Jake” were actually in the room. Only people who knew this very gifted player and teacher can really know what this recording can do to a person’s past memories.

For those who knew Mr. Jacoby, enjoy remembering those good times and for those who never had the pleasure of meeting him, enjoy his lesson on breathing.