The Perfect Lesson Plan #1 “Absolute Beginner”

When first beginning to play trumpet, your expectations are usually high and the amount of energy spent also indicates your desire to succeed. Unfortunately ones desires and expectations sometimes are higher than ones ability. Too many times we are told, “You can do anything if you try hard enough”, which unfortunately many times is inaccurate. I could try the remainder of my life to be able to fly but “it ain’t going to happen”! Before we begin on your lesson plan, I wanted to say that if you are interested in playing trumpet, I encourage you to begin, and with practice, you will improve. But, if you expect to be an accomplished musician in a short period of time without practicing, you will find that it also “ain’t possible”.

If you are in a school program where you are expected to use a certain book or method, by all means get the material and stay with the assignments your director assigns. Your first responsibility is to your local instructor and any and everything assigned must be practiced and accomplished first before you do any of my assignments.

The best book for beginners I have found is called…….

The Essential Elements For Band, published by Hal Leonard.

The reason I favor this method is that it has an excellent use of assignments augmented with audio files which give the student a fine example to emulate. Following the material within its pages will help you to become an accomplished player. If this is not the same method that you are using in your school, I suggest that you buy a copy of the method listed above and begin working in that one as well as your schools required method book.

The reason I am suggesting that you work out of both methods is that you will always need to follow your band director’s instruction, but working in two methods will only improve your playing. Just remember that your director will be expecting you to learn that material he/she has assigned.


You will be expected to practice regularly and there has never been a pill which would eliminate this chore. Notice that I am neither excited nor overjoyed with practicing. I find it boring and uninteresting, but without this quality time dedicated to my instrument, my ability as a performer is lessened. In other words- “there is no other way to accomplish your goal without practicing”!

How much time should I practice each day?

I would suggest that a beginner practice no more or less than 30 minutes six days a week. Having one day off your instrument is needed in order to keep your interest going and missing one day will not effect your improvement. In fact setting your instrument aside one day a week will help improve your embouchure (lip muscles). Which day you rest is not as important as keeping the same schedule every week. It is much better to rest the same day each week for the consistency of your practice will be better if the resting day is the same each week.
Where should I practice?

Being able to practice in an area where you will not be interrupted or distracted is very important. If you practice in your bedroom, be sure to shut the door to help eliminate disturbances. Your family will appreciate the isolation also.

How should I practice?

Your sitting position is more important than most people think for good posture while you practice will improve many things in your playing. The best advice I can give you is to sit on a straight-backed chair and sit far forward on its seat. This position will automatically position you in a way that will improve your breathing as well as your tone quality.

Be sure to have your music well lit and by all means, use a music stand. Propping your music up on your trumpet case sitting on your bed is not the way to get things done. Use a music stand at all times.

Many students believe that you should practice until you get tired. This is incorrect for you should feel good at all times when you practice as well as when you perform. I have advocated the “Rest As Much As You Play” concept most of my life and still continue to practice it myself. By resting as much as you play, you will be able to cover more material and improve your playing much faster than If you play till it hurts.

If you follow the material in the book which I suggested, you should be able to accomplish a great deal of improvement by the time you complete the method and at that point you will be ready for our next post which covers players at the Junior High level.

I have many posts which will be helpful to you as a beginner on this site and I strongly encourage you to read the following-

The Different Parts of Your Trumpet

Practice- Why

Trumpet Hand Playing Position

Wet or Dry- That is a Question

Good News For Beginning Trumpet Players

Trumpet Fingering Chart

Basic Maintenance Information For Your Trumpet

Trumpet Mouthpiece Placement

Lesson Plans For Those Without An Instructor- Part 1

Finding the Correct Mouthpiece Placement

How A Trumpet Is Made

Start at the top of the list and read one post a day.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.