Trumpet/Playing

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Parts of the instrument[edit]

Parts of the instrument include, starting at the mouthpiece end of the instrument, the mouthpiece, leadpipe, main tuning slide, main body of the instrument, and bell. The main body of the instrument conatins three (sometimes four) valves, each valve connected to a separate and distinct slide. When no valves are pressed, the air moves through the instrument without entering any of the valve slides. When a valve is pressed, the air moves through the instrument and through the slides of the valves which are depressed, thus lengthening the instrument and lowering its fundamental pitch.

Posture and hand position[edit]

Proper posture can be obtained by either standing or sitting tall with the elbows at a 45 degree angle with the ground. The angle of the trumpet to the plane of the player's face generally should be slightly less than 90 degrees. An upward horn angle (i.e. "bells up") can be obtained by altering posture at the waist or neck, but this should be used only for special effect as it can interfere with proper breathing. The angle of the trumpet with the plane of the player's face should never be significantly altered.

Proper breathing[edit]

A perfect inhalation breath can be accomplished the following way: Exhale fully and count out loud to twenty without breathing in any additional air. The natural inhalation which occurs upon reaching the number twenty is a natrually good breath, provided the throat stays open and relaxed and the shoulders also stay relaxed and do not rise closer to the ears. Proper exhalation, the basis of proper breath support, occurs when the muscles in the diaphragm and abdominal area push the air out of the lungs. The throat must stay relaxed in order for proper tone production to occur. The abdominal area should be firm during proper exhalation.

Embouchure formation[edit]

In proper embouchure formation, the corners of the lips are firm and slightly drawn down. The center of the lips will be slightly firm, but not nearly as firm as the corners. The teeth are separated to approximately a pencil's width. The lips are rolled in slightly so that the buzz can occur near where the moist inside of the lip meets the dry outside of the lip. Both lips must be even; they should touch but not overlap one another. The chin must remain firm, and air pockets should never be allowed to form between the teeth and the outer walls of the mouth with which the teeth make natural contact. The mouthpiece should rest approximately 50% on the upper lip and 50% on the lower lip. Common causes of a tight tone quality are 1) teeth which are too close together, and 2) too much tightness in the center part of the lips (where wet meets dry).

Proper tonguing[edit]

To tongue properly, the upper side of the tongue's tip is placed where the upper front teeth meet the gumline. A seal must be made between all of the upper teeth and the edge of the tongue so that no air can escape in the instant before actual tonguing occurs. The tongue should never be allowed to protrude between the top and bottom front teeth, and the tip of the tongue should never be so far back that it only touches the gums/membranes of the mouth and not the front teeth.

First sounds on the mouthpiece[edit]

The mouthpiece should be held with the thumb and first finger of the non-dominant hand. It should be held on the "dirt line" which may be slightly scratched or worn away from repeated insertions into the leadpipe. The first sound on the mouthpiece should be air-based. This can be accomplished by forming the embouchure, placing the mouthpiece on the lips, and blowing air (no buzz) through the mouthpiece. While continuing to try to blow air, cover up the tip of the mouthpiece with the dominant hand first finger and let the pressure build up for a second or two. When the finger is released, the pressure will be released and the air will once again pass through the mouthpiece, but if everything is properly lined up, the sudden release of pressure will automatically start a proper air-based buzz.