How to Teach Beginning Trumpet

Teach Beginning Trumpet

How to Teach Beginning Trumpet : An Introduction

My beginning band director was a clarinettist. However, she was an educated and experienced educator capable of starting student on any band instrument. With just a bit of instrument-specific knowledge, you can give trumpet players a great start. Here are some thoughts from The Dallas School of Music faculty on how to teach beginning trumpet.

How to Teach Beginning Trumpet : Posture and Breathing

Do not start with the trumpet.  I know the student is excited to pick up, hold, and play the trumpet, but there are a few things to establish first. Teach correct posture and breathing.  If you are working individually with a trumpet player, have him or her stand.  I often have my students bend over at the waist with their arms hanging to the floor, then have them slowly roll up and think of aligning all their bones straight up and down all the way to the head with their arms at their side.   Then I have them shrug their shoulders up and then down and back.  I tell them to think that a string is pulling them straight up from the top of their head stretching them out.  If they are sitting, they can do the same thing.  Just make sure they are not sitting against the back of their chair.  This puts them in proper alignment for breathing.  Refer to my blog on the proper breath for brass players.

How to Teach Beginning Trumpet : Embouchure and Buzzing

Teach correct embouchure and buzzing.  Refer to my blog on the proper embouchure and how to buzz.  This is critical in getting a good sound.  Some teachers do not even use the trumpet at all until the student can buzz his or her lips with and without a mouthpiece.

How to Teach Beginning Trumpet : Holding the Instrument

Once the student can get a buzz on the mouthpiece, it is time to teach correct hold and placement.  The left hand should hold the weight of the instrument with the thumb in the thumb holder, the index and middle finger wrapped around the third valve above the slide, the ring finger in the third valve slide ring, and the pinky wrapped around below the slide.   The right hand should make a backward C with the thumb between the second and third valves, the fingers resting on the tips on the valves, and the pinky ON TOP of the pinky rest – not underneath it.  This is to allow the freest motion of the fingers.

How to Teach Beginning Trumpet : The Correct Angle

Next, is to bring the trumpet to the student, not the other way around.  The angle of the trumpet should follow the same angle as when the student buzzed the mouthpiece.  There will probably be a slight downward angle, just below parallel, but it should not be pointed down to the ground like a clarinet. All of these concepts must be reinforced every single time the student plays in order to ensure good habits.

How to Teach Beginning Trumpet : Moving Forward

We hope these suggestions arm you with some information on how to teach beginning trumpet. If you haven’t already, I invite you to create a dlp Music Program membership. You will have access to wonderful music courses, lessons, and our community (forums, services, resources, and blogs). Our Kore and Jazz Courses provide a comprehensive curriculum that makes the music learning process a lot of fun!

Best Wishes,
Jeff Ensign, MM
Faculty, The Dallas School of Music

Jeff Ensign

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