5 Tips to Take Your Trumpet Playing to the Next Level

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or professional trumpet player, you’re probably always on the lookout for ways to improve your trumpet playing. There are lots of trumpet playing tips and tricks out there, but you don’t need to look for strange and obscure ways to improve your playing. Often the tried-and-true methods are the best ways to become a better trumpet player.

Let’s talk about 5 tips to take your trumpet playing to the next level, no matter what level you are!

Embouchure, breathing and posture exercises

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been playing the trumpet for 1 day, 1 year or 40 years, getting back to the basics of embouchure, breathing and posture exercises will never be a bad idea. Devote some time each and every week to brush up on these skills.

– Stand up, or sit tall on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the ground, and take several deep, slow, full breaths. Remember what it feels like to completely expand your lungs and blow out every drop of air.

– You know buzzing is a great warm up and a good way to build up your chops without needing your instrument. Buzz your lips as if you were playing – do this with and without your mouthpiece.

– Now grab your trumpet. Take a moment to ensure you’re holding it properly, as you were taught (not too tight or loose, support the instrument well, be sure your hand can efficiently press the valves). Play an easy note and sustain it for as long as you can. Try this exercise on several notes, with a break in between.

– Practice your scales. Doing your scales will develop your ear and improve your breathing and embouchure. Plus, it can help you extend your endurance.

– Play as softly as you can, which will make you focus on your lip aperture. This exercise will help you develop your embouchure and expand your range.

Create a solid practice routine – and stick to it!

We’re told from the second we pick up an instrument to practice, practice, practice! But disorganized practice will not take your trumpet playing to the next level. You need a solid practice routine that becomes a part of your everyday life. Start with 5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises (you can incorporate some of the exercises we discussed above), plus add in some scales, arpeggios and metronome work. Once you’re warmed up, move onto practicing pieces, making sure to challenge yourself a bit. Depending on your (or your student’s) level, practice a few times a week and increase your practice time as your endurance improves.

Clean and maintain your instrument

Take 30 minutes each week and give your horn a good cleaning. When you’re practicing or performing, the last thing you want to do is adjust your playing because your horn is gunked up. Keep good trumpet care & cleaning supplies on hand and treat your horn well. It’ll last longer that way and a dirty horn won’t be a distraction.

Play and perform with others

Pump up your practice routine by practicing with others and get together with friends or colleagues for organized playing or jam sessions. You’ll have fun and you can share experiences, learn from others, and, depending on your level, you may even be able to teach them something! You’ll also have the accountability of meeting up, so you’re sure to get that practice in.

Listen and watch other players …

And not just your favorite players! If you’re lucky enough to have access to a jazz club or other music venue, get out as much as you can to see live performances. If that’s not an option, there are thousands of videos online and obviously, plenty of audio recordings to choose from. Pay attention to how they incorporate different accessories, like mutes. Hearing other musicians and recognizing different styles will lead to improvements in your own musicianship. Live music is inspiring and exciting and will remind you why you picked up a trumpet in the first place.

Playing the trumpet is fun, challenging and rewarding, and each trumpeter wants to get better at his or her craft. While there are many tips and tricks out there to get better, it will never hurt to get back to the basics of trumpet playing.

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