Band Camp Clinics

Trumpet Basics

Why are the basics important???  Because if you do things correctly and practice, you will get better.  If you are doing things wrong, you won’t do as well – you might even give up.  HUGE mistake!  Trumpet playing is one of the greatest and oldest skills of mankind – the trumpet goes back thousands of years and has the ability to greatly impact emotions and touch the soul.  And it is a great way to express your feelings, reduce stress, and build your self-confidence and sense of accomplishment.  All you need is a trumpet, mouthpiece, oil, music (download Arban Complete Method), and TIME!

When to work on the basics?  Every day…during your warm up.  You need to play for at least 5 minutes to warm up the muscles to operating temperature so that you play well, have better endurance, and are less likely to hurt yourself.  Sounds like an athlete?  Trumpet players are musical athletes or athletic musicians. (Pretty much everyone agrees that you should rest as much as you play, so you need to allow 10 minutes to warm up.)

Here’s what you need to do during your warmup:

1. Put on the trumpet attitude!  Hint:  NOT “I’m better than you.”  That just makes people not like you.

The attitude must be heroic because a LOT of the music we play is heroic.  You must be fearless – you are not afraid of high notes, low notes, fast notes, the conductor, etc. because you have a SECRET WEAPON — PRACTICE!! (If you are having trouble with something, practice until you can play it.  Take action and you will eliminate any fear.)

Time required:  2 seconds

2. Posture – stand or sit as tall as possible while you’re playing for three reasons

a. breathe better (it’s a WIND instrument)

b. look better (most people can’t hear what we hear, so if you look good, they figure you are good)

c. better mental focus – good posture puts your brain on high alert; remember, your brain plays the trumpet, so if it’s half asleep, you are NOT going to play well.  (The brain tells the muscles what to do; the better the instructions, the better the results.)

Time required:  2 seconds

3. Make sure you’re using your full lung capacity – short version: breathe like a tuba player!

How to breathe – inhale as quietly as possible to the stretch point 3 times in a row so you feel the first signs of dizziness

When to breathe – start FULL and breath again as you near the resting point

Time required:  12 seconds

4. Make sure your embouchure is correct by doing three “leak and seals”

Time required:  12 seconds

5. At the same time as #4, make sure you are blowing correctly when you encounter resistance by blowing hard against the seal and getting the sound of air pressure releasing when you pull the mouthpiece away.  (Plus, you get 3 more big breaths in while you do this)

Time required:  12 seconds

6. Buzz the mouthpiece:

a. Sirens – the most basic thing you can do (except hold a note)

Be sure they are smooth and the volume stays the same

Be sure to go low as well as high – they require different muscles!

b. Melodies – any melody is good; just be sure it is a tune you know

listen for three things:

  • pitch accuracy
  • response when tonguing
  • sirens between notes when you slur

Expect perfection…but not right away.  Never let up, keep practicing, and it WILL happen!

Time required:  60 seconds (you can do more, if you wish)

Total time so far:  1 minute 40 seconds

7. It’s time for the trumpet!  Moving long tones/tone studies (Much more interesting than long tones!)

What to listen for:

a. the “attack”

b. the tone of the note

c. what it sounds like between the notes

What to practice – music that is in the middle range and moves by seconds or thirds (Tone Study #1)

If you don’t like what you hear, do it again…and again…and again until you get what you want.  How do you know what you want?  You have to LISTEN!!

Time required:  5 minutes (you can do more, if you wish)

8. Range Expansion Tone Studies – the same as #7, except moving into the upper range

                This is a TONE study that expands into the upper range.  Tone first, then range!

Time required:  5 minutes (you can do more, if you wish)

Total time so far:  11 minutes 40 seconds

More to come…