July 28, 2015
When it comes to playing the trumpet, you can’t expect your child to become a master overnight- it takes plenty of practice and dedication before your child will even come close.
Whether your child wants to play the trumpet on their own or as part of a school marching band, they’ll feel more comfortable playing the instrument over time. If you’re curious about technique, practicing, or posture, here are some trumpet tips and tricks every new trumpet player should keep in mind:
- Practice Without a Trumpet
- Play With the Trumpet
- Wet vs. Dry Lips
- Breathing & Posture
Trumpet Tip #1: Practice Without the Trumpet
As strange as it may sound, your child can start practicing the trumpet before they even take it out of its case. This “practice” is done through lip exercises. Trumpet players can exercise their lips in a few ways.
First, have your child say the letter “m” and stop when they say the “mmm” part, almost as if they’re humming. Have them keep their lips in this position, as it’s the natural position they’ll use when they play. From there, have your child hum and blow at the same time. By this point, they should be making a buzzing sound. Proper lip placement, or embouchure, is crucial for playing the trumpet properly. Once your child is able to make this sound, it’s time for them to try making the sound with a mouthpiece.
Trumpet Tip #2: Play With the Trumpet
After your child has practiced their embouchure on the mouthpiece, the next trumpet tip is to start practicing with the instrument itself. Before doing so, the trumpet will need to be assembled. Once assembled, have your child inhale through their mouth, place their lips in the position they’ve been practicing, press the instrument against their lips, and blow. Don’t have them touch the valves or actually try to “play” the instrument, as practicing and perfecting their embouchure is key.
Once they’re able to hit different notes by changing their embouchure, allow them to experiment with the valves. After some time, they’ll discover that they are able to “create” different notes with different valve and embouchure combinations.
Trumpet Tip #3: Wet vs. Dry Lips
Many players who are new to playing the trumpet aren’t sure if their lips should be dry or wet while playing. At the end of the day, both ways are correct and it’s ultimately a matter of preference.
Dry lips will stick to the mouthpiece better and; therefore, won’t slip. Wet lips, on the other hand, will slide under the mouthpiece where they’re allowed to adjust to the current dynamics and register more freely. Have your child try out one, then the other, and encourage them to choose the one that feels the most comfortable for them. While some trumpet players transition between the two, most prefer to play with either wet or dry lips.
Trumpet Tip #4: Breathing & Posture
Before your child begins practicing their trumpet, encourage them to sit down and take a few deep, full breaths. For this trumpet tip, they shouldn’t be holding the air in. Instead, they should inhale in tempo to the music and blow instantly.
As far as posture goes, it’s best to play the trumpet while in a standing position- it’s easier to get a full inhale and enough power to blow while standing. If your child prefers to sit down while practicing, have them keep their feet on the floor and encourage them to sit towards the edge of the chair. When holding the instrument, make sure your child isn’t holding it too tightly. They should only be supporting the instrument with their left hand, which keeps the right hand free to push the valves more efficiently.
Notes About Practicing
Many musicians find that creating a practice routine works the best for them. Most start with 5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises (scales, arpeggios, metronome work), and then move onto practicing solo work or recital pieces. Playing the trumpet is by no means an easy feat, and your child will likely find it challenging at first. Encourage your child to be persistent and keep practicing, but if your child complains and soreness in their cheeks or jaw, have them take a break and resume practicing later. They should only be practicing a few times a week until they feel more comfortable with more.
For more trumpet tips, check out this video: