How To Hold a Trumpet: Easy Tips for Beginning Players

If you’re wondering how to hold a trumpet, begin by learning the standard grip for left hand placement and right hand placement. Being a trumpet player requires practice, technique, and dedication. Learning how to hold a trumpet is an important first step.

A member of the brass family, trumpets are versatile instruments used in a wide variety of musical genres. From jazz to marching band, the trumpet is known for its bright, expressive sound. When you’re learning to play the trumpet, it’s important to master the proper technique for holding the instrument. 

To learn how to hold a trumpet, here’s what you’ll need to know:

  • Standard Grip
  • Left Ring Finger Placement
  • Left Index and Middle Finger Placement
  • Left Thumb Placement
  • Right Hand Placement

How To Hold a Trumpet

Standard Grip

Like many instruments, the trumpet has a standard grip which is the same whether you’re right-handed or left-handed. You will hold the instrument with your left hand and use your right hand to press the keys. 

Some left-handed beginners may worry about playing the instrument with their nondominant hand. However, most “southpaw” players adapt very quickly. They may also find it slightly easier to hold the trumpet because their left hand is stronger.

When you hold the trumpet, use a firm grip with your left hand. Keep it steady without getting stiff or tight. A firm yet relaxed grip will stabilize the instrument while you play it with your right hand. You’ll also want to make sure you avoid letting your left palm rest against the valve casing. This can cause the trumpet to sound muffled and make it harder to use the valve slides.

Let your left hand support the trumpet’s weight so you can keep your right hand loose and flexible. If your right hand is holding the trumpet, it will negatively affect your playing ability. 

Left Ring Finger Placement

On every trumpet, there is a small ring next to the third valve casing. This ring adjusts the trumpet’s tuning by operating the third valve slide. When you learn how to hold a trumpet, you’ll be taught to place your left ring finger through this ring.

If your hands are very large, it may be easier for you to place your left ring finger around the ring rather than inside. For players who have very small hands, you can place your pinky finger in the valve slide ring next to your ring finger.

Left Index and Middle Finger Placement

Next, wrap your left index finger and your left middle finger around the valve casings. Rest them next to your left ring finger. Together, all three fingers of your left hand will support the trumpet’s weight. 

Left Thumb Placement

Did you notice that your trumpet has another valve slide ring next to the first valve? During your first trumpet lessons, you probably won’t be operating this valve slide very much because it’s used for fine-tuning sharp notes. Your instructor will help you with this until you become a more proficient player. In the meantime, the first valve slide is where you will place your left thumb.

With your left thumb in the first valve slide ring, your left ring finger in the third valve slide ring, and your index and middle fingers supporting the valve casings, you’re almost done learning how to hold a trumpet. 

Right Hand Placement

Now that you’ve learned the standard grip for your left hand, it’s time to learn how to place your right hand. Remember, this is the hand you’ll be using to actually play the trumpet. 

First, place your right thumb between the first and second valve casings, beneath the pipe that attaches to the mouthpiece. This helps you balance the instrument. Keep your thumb straight so it doesn’t restrict the movement of your fingers.

Second, align your index, middle, and ring fingers with the three valve keys. Pressing the keys manipulates the trumpet’s airflow and this is how you play different notes. When you’re not pressing a key, gently rest your fingertips. Avoid the temptation to rest your right pinky finger in the finger hook, as this can restrict the movement of your other fingers.

Learn to Play the Trumpet with Lessons from Music And Arts

Now that you know how to hold a trumpet, it’s time to learn some songs! If you’re ready to sign up for trumpet lessons, visit your local Music and Arts store, email us, or call 888-731-5396.

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