Using Technology to Improve Your Trumpet Playing- Measuring your volume

Trumpet players are famous for loud playing and a few are capable of playing soft. But what is loud and what is soft when trying to improve your control of your instrument.

If you have ever had the good fortune or misfortune of playing trumpet in a rock band, you may have experienced the high end of the decibel meter.

If you have ever played trumpet in a small chamber ensemble, you will have participated in the other end of the scale. The loud volumes usually can be found in the Music Building at the University of North Texas and the diminutive volumes are necessary when performing with the old sweet bands of the past. Your ability to perform at both extremes is important in your complete development as a trumpet player. But, many times we forget the extremes and live our lives in the mf to f life style.

In order to measure your volume extremes and be sure to practice your volume control in all situations, you need a visual measurement of where you are on the volume scale.

To most players, a simple volume meter on your recorder would seem to be the answer, and for the simplest reading, this will work fine. But you need to know that visualizing your volume on a small meter across the room may not be the best answer.

After cruising the Internet this afternoon, I came across a very impressive, inexpensive (free) and effective download from Orban world-class professional broadcast technology.

In a very short time, you will be able to set up your computer and be sending those meter bars back and forth across your screen. And after you have finished playing with all the buttons, switches, you will need to get down to the basics of improving your volume and control at your extreme volume levels.

Rule #1

Practice material you are not currently performing.
If you are playing with a big band, playing shows, you might think about spending some time playing at the soft level for awhile. If you’ve a member of an orchestra playing only Mozart for the past season, be sure to crank it up a little on the decibels.

Rule #2

Practice different styles (dynamics. tempi, ranges, etc.) from what we have been doing regularly.
If you practice in a small room or apartment, chances are very good that you have developed a fine volume from p to mf. Now it’s time to wake up the neighbors.

Rule #3

Watch your meter and believe what it tells you.

If you are going to develop your soft playing, DO NOT EXCEED THE LEVEL YOU HAVE ESTABLISHED TO LIMIT YOURSELF TO.


In a short amount of time you will realize how narrow your volume has become and through visual feed back, you will start expanding your usable volume in both directions.

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.