Common Mistakes Trumpet Players Make, and How to Fix Them




As I teach trumpet players year after year, I notice I tell most of them to be aware of certain destructive behaviors that they have either consciously or unconsciously adopted.  Here is a list of some of those behaviors so YOU can avoid/correct them in yourself.


1.    Hooking right pinky UNDER the ring/holding the horn with your right hand

The ring or flange located on the leadpipe can be a dangerous device (or a useful one, if properly employed).  Remember when you hold the trumpet, only the left hand bears the horn’s weight.  The right hand should “float” and operate the valves, but you should not share the weight of the horn between the two hands.  The only time you should hook your right pinky under that hook/loop on the leadpipe is when 1) you are inserting a mute with the left hand, or 2) when you are turning music with your left hand.  After that mute is installed/page is turned, hold the horn with your left hand again and let the right hand float.



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2.    Not breathing efficiently

This isn’t just a trumpet player issue.  I would say most people in the world don’t breathe efficiently.  Our lungs are these big bags that we fill with air.  We need air to breathe, and our WIND instruments need air (aka wind) to operate.  However, how often do you use the full capacity of your lungs?  In fact, why do you take a moment to pause while reading this article and observe your own breathing—are your lungs fully expanding and emptying, or are you taking little sips of air?  And when you play your horn, are your lungs expanding and emptying, or are you taking little sips of air?  USE THOSE LUNGS.

3.    Not singing the music in your head

Playing the trumpet and playing music are two different activities.  Read that again.  Remember: the trumpet is a TOOL (instrument) used in the service of performing music.  This means that you have to INTENTIONALLY be thinking, imagining, and projecting music from your mind in order for it to come through the horn.  Just pushing down the right valves and blowing air won’t make music.  Music happens when you are singing a song with your mind.  Music on the trumpet happens when you sing that song in your mind and you operate the trumpet to put that music into the real world.  You will only play the things you can sing, so make sure you are actively practicing singing all the things you want to play—at least in your mind, but singing it with your voice can also be useful.



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