How to Play and Tune the Trumpet

If you or your child is new to playing the trumpet, check out this article for tips on how to get started!

how to play the trumpet

Table of Contents

How to Play and Tune the Trumpet

Whether you’re starting your journey into learning an instrument or you are expanding your musical horizons, learning how to play trumpet can be a great opportunity. The trumpet can be challenging, but once you master it, you can create amazing compositions for years to come. Building your skills takes time and dedication and can lead to amazing performances in the future. Learn how to get started with this brass instrument, from choosing the right one to finding music to play.

How To Choose Your First Trumpet

To get started learning the trumpet, you need to acquire the instrument. If you’ve never shopped for a trumpet, there are a few things you need to consider to make sure you have one that will work for your needs. While trumpets come in a variety of styles and price points, you want to make a substantial investment so you don’t end up with a cheap trumpet that doesn’t last.

Consider Your Future

When you’re just starting out, there are many options for student-level trumpets. While these can be good to learn with, there is a chance you’ll outgrow them quickly. Look for an intermediate trumpet that you can keep using as your skills improve.

At the same time, consider the durability of the trumpet when making your purchase. Look for features like sturdy construction, high-quality materials and a protective case. Check for well-known brands that have a reputation for producing quality instruments. Some popular brands include Yamaha, Bach and Conn.

Play before you buy

Always try out a trumpet before purchasing it. This will give you an idea of the sound quality, playability and comfort of the instrument. If possible, bring a knowledgeable trumpet player with you to help you make a decision and warn you of any issues when it comes to how to play trumpet.


As with many instruments, cheaper trumpets usually have lower performance and durability. While you don't need to spend a fortune on a trumpet, it's important to invest in a quality instrument. Student trumpets can range from $500 to $1500, while intermediate trumpets can range from $1600 to $2000.

Cornet vs. Standard Trumpet

Keep an eye out for cornets. They are smaller than trumpets and can be a great choice for younger or smaller players. The finger positioning on a cornet is identical to that of a trumpet, making it an option as you learn how to play trumpet. Cornets have a mellower sound than trumpets, which can be beneficial for younger players who are just starting to develop their embouchure and tone.

The standard Bb trumpet is the most common type of trumpet used in classical and jazz music. It has a bright, focused sound and is versatile in its range and playing styles. For beginners and intermediate players, a standard trumpet is a great choice for developing a solid foundation in playing technique and musical expression.

Plastic trumpets are a newer option and are often used by beginner students because of their durability and affordability. They are also lightweight, making them easier for younger players to handle. However, plastic trumpets may not have the same sound quality as traditional brass trumpets.

Ultimately, the choice of trumpet for a beginner or intermediate player will depend on their individual needs and preferences. It's important to choose an instrument that feels comfortable to play and produces a sound that is pleasing to the ear.

How To Tune a Trumpet

With your new trumpet in hand, it’s time to begin to learn how to play it. Before you can start practicing, you have to make sure the trumpet is tuned. Tuning ensures that you are playing in the correct pitch and helps you sound better when playing with other musicians.

To start, you will want to warm up. This involves getting yourself ready to play the trumpet by making sure you are physically ready. Get the blood flowing to your lips and fingers so you can play comfortably. You should also make sure the instrument isn’t cold. If the metal is at too low of a temperature, the pitch could be affected. Once you’re warmed up, it’s time to tune.

Tuning a Trumpet with a Tuner

Learning how to tune a trumpet with a tuner is an important aspect of learning how to play trumpet since you can’t play well with an improperly tuned instrument. Chromatic tuners can be purchased at most music stores or online and make the process simple. Here are the steps to tune your trumpet using a tuner:

  • Step 1: Turn on the tuner and make sure it is set to "chromatic" mode. This mode allows the tuner to recognize all notes, not just specific ones.
  • Step 2: Next, play a note on your trumpet. It is recommended to tune your trumpet to C. Play the C note by playing the trumpet with no valves pressed down.
  • Step 3: The tuner will show you whether the note is too high, too low or in tune.
  • Step 4: If the note is not in tune, adjust the pitch by moving the tuning slide. The tuning slide is a U-shaped piece of metal that is located near the mouthpiece. To raise the pitch, push the tuning slide in. To lower the pitch, pull the tuning slide out. Make small adjustments until the needle on the tuner is centered.

Tuning a Trumpet Without a Tuner

Tuning a trumpet without a tuner requires a bit more skill and practice. However, it is still an effective method if you do not have a tuner or prefer to tune by ear. The main difference is that you need to use a piano, tuning fork or another trumpet to set your reference notes. Play out the note you need to reach and keep it in mind as you play.

Keep adjusting your trumpet until you hit the desired sound for each note. Although tuning on your own can be difficult at first, the process can be a great way to learn trumpet for beginners who are still getting used to the feel and sound of the instrument.

How To Read and Play Trumpet Sheet Music

Learning how to use sheet music is another important aspect of knowing how to play trumpet. Being able to translate symbols on the page into real music allows you to learn more compositions and opens up opportunities in your music career. Reading trumpet sheet music involves understanding the various elements of music notation.

The Staf

The staff consists of five lines and four spaces, and notes are placed on the lines and spaces to indicate pitch. The higher the note on the staff, the higher the pitch.

The Clef

Trumpet music is written in treble clef, which indicates that the notes on the lines and spaces of the staff correspond to specific pitches. The treble clef symbol looks like a large, stylized "S" and is located at the beginning of the staff.

Key Signature

The key signature is located at the beginning of the staff and indicates which notes are sharp or flat throughout the entire piece. Make sure to play the correct notes according to the key signature. This is an important skill to master when you consider how to play trumpet for beginners.

Time Signature

The time signature tells you how many beats are in each measure and what kind of note receives one beat. The top number indicates how many beats are in each measure, and the bottom number indicates what kind of note receives one beat.

Note Duration

Notes come in different durations, from whole notes to sixteenth notes, and each note duration represents a different amount of time. A whole note lasts for four beats, a half note lasts for two beats and so on. Rests indicate periods of silence in the music and come in different durations, just like notes.

Other Symbols

In addition to notes and rests, sheet music may include other musical symbols such as dynamics (indicating volume), articulations (indicating how to play the note) and tempo indications (indicating the speed of the music). These will tell you the nuances of how to play trumpet.

Practice Playing

Once you’ve learned how to read the different elements of the sheet music, you can work on actually playing. As you start, take some time to look at the sheet music and become familiar with the notes, rhythms and any other markings such as dynamics, articulations, and tempo indications.

Begin by practicing the notes of the piece slowly and carefully. Take your time to play each note with a clear and consistent sound. When you are learning how to play trumpet, use a metronome to help you keep a steady tempo and maintain a consistent rhythm.

Once you've become comfortable with the notes, begin practicing the rhythms. Break the piece down into small sections and practice each section separately, gradually increasing the tempo as you become more comfortable with the rhythms. Dynamics and articulations are important musical markings that can greatly affect the overall sound and expression of the piece. Make sure to play these markings accurately and with appropriate expression.

You can practice playing with a backing track or accompaniment to help you stay in tempo and provide a more musical context for the piece. As you play, record yourself and listen back. Over time, you can identify trouble spots and improve your skills.

Remember, learning to play trumpet sheet music takes time, patience and practice. Take your time, break the piece down into manageable sections and practice regularly to improve your playing.

Your skills in reading trumpet sheet music will also help you when you play other instruments or approach other musical tasks. It’s a good idea to keep your skills sharp and work on new pieces often.

Songs for Learning How To Play Trumpet

There are many songs that can be played on the trumpet, from film pieces to jazz standards to Disney songs. The trumpet has been used in various genres of music for centuries, and there are many great trumpet parts in countless compositions. Here are some popular songs that can be played on the trumpet:

  • "Summertime" by George Gershwin - This classic jazz standard is a favorite of many trumpet players. The trumpet solo in this song is hauntingly beautiful and is a great showcase of the instrument's versatility.
  • "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra - A popular jazz ballad, this song has a beautiful trumpet melody that is sure to capture the audience's attention.
  • "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen - This iconic rock ballad features a prominent trumpet part during the song's climactic ending.
  • "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck - A memorable trumpet solo that is both intricate and beautiful is the highlight of this composition.
  • "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond - This upbeat pop song includes a catchy trumpet part that is easy to play and is sure to get the crowd singing along.
  • "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston - One of the most iconic ballads, this song has a beautiful trumpet solo that is both emotional and powerful.
  • "All of Me" by John Legend - This modern pop ballad features a simple but beautiful trumpet solo that perfectly complements the song's romantic lyrics.

You can find even more trumpet songs from other genres on Musicnotes. The important thing is to add variety to your list of practice sheet music as you learn how to play trumpet so you can perfect different skills and playing styles.

Start Exploring the Trumpet

The trumpet sometimes gets a reputation for being a difficult instrument, but it’s worth the effort to learn how to play. Once you understand how to find a trumpet for beginners, tune it so it sounds great and read sheet music, you’re ready to start making music. It will take practice, but your skills will grow as long as you put in the effort.

Take the time to learn how to play trumpet and start exploring the genres you love, as well as ones you hadn’t considered. Musicnotes has all the sheet music and advice you need to master this instrument and accomplish this major goal for yourself.