How To Play Trumpet Properly: The Ultimate Guide

William Cramer by William Cramer | Last Updated: June 16, 2020

The trumpet is commonly considered as an outstanding and hard-to-play musical instrument in the brass family.

If you are interested with this type of instrument and are seeking the way to play it yourself before asking for the help of a teacher, you’re right to be here.

Our post will show you how to play trumpet in the right ways based on the full and comprehensive guideline. Now, let’s begin!

Getting Ready

As mentioned before, playing trumpet is not an easy task. Thus, it is necessary for beginners to prepare themselves when they decide to learn how to play trumpet.

Particularly, becoming fluent instrument players, including trumpet ones, will take time and effort to practice and improve skills. This process of each individual is different but requires your right attitude, truehearted desire, high attempt and even your patience to pursue it.

Even when you don’t own natural abilities like some those of talents, you will be able to become a good trumpet player with the above characteristics and a 30-minute practice session daily.

After getting yourself ready for discovering the attractive trumpet, you should learn to know its main parts. This will surely help you in choosing a good trumpet in the next step and when using it.

See also: The important parts of a trumpet

how to play trumpet notes

Select an Appropriate Trumpet

This is surely an important step before starting beginner trumpet lessons. To choose the right trumpet, you should consider these following issues:

  • Your available budget: in case you have a tight budget, a used trumpet is a good choice.
  • Which one will you need? Beginner, intermediate or professional trumpets have different features.

What you need to check when buying:

  • Slides and valves should have a looser tolerance.
  • Other parts should move freely.
  • Valves should spring back up fast and easily when being pushed down.
  • Choose a proper mouthpiece and the horn’s compression.
  • Trumpet should have no leaks, corrosion or dents.
  • Ask for its warranty.

Be sure you purchase a trumpet but not a cornet. In a few cases, some customers have no clear knowledge of these two types and purchase the wrong one online.

Furthermore, when owning a trumpet, you should carefully take care of it by keeping it dry, clean, safe and properly lubricated for a long time of use.

Now, let’s start to learn how to play trumpet to enjoy its warm sensuality yourself soon.

How to Play Trumpet: Key Steps to Practice

Step 1: Practice The Basic Lip Position

Pronounce the sound “M” and keep the lips stop at the “mmm” position.

Blow through that position and make such a buzzing sound.

At first, you may feel the sound quite odd; however, this kind of lip position is known as the basic one that is often used to play the trumpet.

In order to create “buzzing” down, I have some tips for you: Imagine that there is a tiny piece of paper on the tip of your own tongue.

Slightly stick your tongue out, remember only the tip, and take the paper out of your tongue rapidly and spit out of your mouth. Remember that your lips have to catch each other, which helps to create a sound like a ‘raspberry.’


Because of the fact that nobody has the same teeth as well as lip shape, it have many embouchures that are developed.

There is totally no wrong or right way, you will need to search for the way you feel good.

However, there are still several common rules that everyone can apply. You have to keep your mouths corners always firm; thus, the air cannot escape outside.

When you want to go up, it’s great to push your lips a little more midle instead of stretching them.

Stretching might result in thinner lip tissue that leads the sound to be thinner.

There are some popular embouchures such as (Farkas), you should try to keep your lips even or (Stevens) you need curling or rolling your lips in (so called Stevens) or  out (Maggio) without overlapping.

There are still other embouchures that you can find more detailed explanations  by yourself.

As you are able to make a fine sound from your trumpet, you should practice playing long tones to get used to that instrument.

By doing this way, your facial muscles and your lips (embouchure, “chops”) are familiar with the vibration as well as study how to make the expected note.

Mouthpiece Placement

Many trumpeters have recommended that it be a good idea to keep as much the upper lip as the lower lip in the trumpet’s mouthpiece.

In fact, teeth, skull, and lips are totally different to everyone, so they have their own way to put their lips into the mouthpiece which is natural and comfortable for them.

Dry versus Wet Lips

None of them are incorrect. Wet lips can easily slip on the mouthpiece, so they are permitted to modify to current dynamics as well as freely register.

On the contrary, dry lips will not slide because they stick to the mouthpiece. It’s recommended to experiment the one that you feel better.

Step 2: Practice Blowing With Your Trumpet

Practice buzzing into the mouthpiece.

Insert the mouthpiece into your trumpet and practice buzzing again without pressing valves.


Knowing how to properly breathe is considered as a crucial step that cannot be ignored while studying how to play a trumpet.

Remember to take a deep, and full breath. Don’t move your shoulders up while breathing in; keep your body stay relax when inhaling instead of straining yourself.

Pretend that the air you take is deep & down, which enables you to get rid of moving your shoulders up (this is often much easier when you breathe through your mouth).

Don’t keep the air in, breathe in in tempo as well as blow instantly.

Step 3: Hold Your Trumpet In The Right Ways

This is the next important step which will let you feel relaxed, easier and natural when practicing with the trumpet.

Allow your trumpet to be held firm thanks to the smooth coordination of your left hand, right hand and fingers without applying any force.

Your Right Hand

  • Thumb is between the first and the second valve casings. If not, you can put your thumb before the first valve casing.
  • Ring-, middle- and index-fingers towards the valves.
  • Little finger is on trumpet’s hook to avoid excessive pressure

Your Left Hand

  • Thumb which is on the first valve slip (many trumpets are equipped with a hook for your thumb).
  • Middle-, and index- fingers are put behind the third valve casing.
  • Ring- finger which is put in the third valve slips.
    Little finger which is put under the third valve slips.

Don’t hold the trumpet too tightly. Just use your left hand to hold the trumpet, which permits you to manipulate the valves effectively with the other hand.

Read further: How to hold the trumpet in a perfect way

Right Posture

Remember that while playing trumpet, whether standing or sitting, you should always:

  • Let your trumpet point straight ahead and up, place your trumpet fairly downwards but just a little bit. So that the sound will travel well and notes will be played more accurately.
  • While playing, your body must be relaxed for deeper breaths and do not lock your knees. Stay your arms away from the body.
  • In reality, a great physical condition may be beneficial for your posture and breathing issues as well. It’s a good idea to take a deep inhale as well as the power to blow while you are standing.
  • If you must sit when playing, keep your back straight with you feet on the floor without slouching. Otherwise, the air flow, sustained trumpet notes or a steady volume will be affected.
  • Let your elbows slightly out from but not into both sides of your body for no pressure.
  • On stage, it is important to remember that your trumpet must point towards a microphone and adjust the height of the microphone suitable for your height.

Step 4: Learn How to Blow Basically 

If you think to blow into a trumpet is only blowing into it together with your blown-up cheeks, you are following the wrong way. It even makes your practicing harder.

The better way is allowing your upper lip bend a little bit downwards while starting. At this time, the air is let out and the sound released is the note. Moreover, you should not press the mouthpiece too firmly to the lips.

Besides, the consonants such as “T”, “K”, “D” are normally used to start the tone. Anyway, the vowel is the main factor that determines the sound. Thus, we are highly recommended to focus on it.

Particularly, the three most common syllables that show the changing of the size and shape of your oral cavity on the trumpet are “ah”, “ay”, “ee”. The details of this use are shown in the following table:



Lip Vibration







In a word, you can change the sound by noticing at these things:

  • Bend your tongue’s surface upwards and vibrate your lips more quickly to play high notes on trumpet.
  • Lower your jaw and vibrate the lips slowly to play low notes.
  • Mainly change the fingering to get different notes on the trumpet.

Step 5: Learn About Valves and Notes For Pressing Valves

A trumpet has three valves. Each of them alters the pitch. Valves are numbered one, two and three. The first valve is closest to you, and the third valve is closest to the horn’s bell.

  • When pressing the first valve, the pitch is lowered one whole tone (2 semitones).
  • When pressing the second valve, the pitch is lowered half a tone (1 semitone).
  • When pressing the third valve, the pitch is lowered one and a half tones (3 semitones).

No Valves 

1st Valve

2nd Valve

1st and 2nd Valves

2nd and 3rd Valves

1st and 3rd Valves

All Valves

Certain Notes For Pressing Valves

  • For pressing no valve: H sharp, C, G High, E High, F flat, High A sharp, High B, Higher D, Higher E sharp, Higher F.
  • For pressing 1st valve: A sharp, B, E sharp, F, High Ds.
  • For pressing 2nd valve: H, C flat, F sharp, High D sharp, High E flat, Higher C sharp, Higher D flat.
  • For pressing 3rd valve: A, E, F flat, High C sharp, High D fla.
  • For pressing 1st and 2nd valve: A, E, F flat, High C sharp, High D flat.
  • For pressing 1st and 3rd valve: G, D, H, High C flat.
  • For pressing 2nd and 3rd valve: G sharp, A flat, D sharp, E flat, H sharp, High C.
  • For pressing all valves: F sharp, G flat, C sharp, D flat.

Step 6: Produce The Sound With Fingering

When you have mastered the technique of blowing, it’s time to practice producing sound with your trumpet using the fingering following the reference below:

Remember to use fingers of your right hand to rest on three valves and hold your right pinky in the air or on top of the hook near the valve number three.

Step 7: Learn The First Scale

A scale is a collection of ascending or descending pitches proceeding by a specified intervals’ scheme. Trumpet scales are important and will help you play in different pitches and keys.

Now, it’s time to learn the first scale-the C major scale with the following guideline:

  • Start with Low C: (often written as a zero or an O) play this note on the trumpet by pushing no valves down
  • Play D: try pushing down valves numbered one and three. Barely tighten your lips in case you cannot play D
  • Play E: try pushing down valves numbered one and two and tighten the lips a little more
  • Play F: try pushing down valves numbered one and tighten the lips a little more
  • Play G: Push down no valves at this time, but still tighten your lips some more
  • Play A: try pushing down valves numbered one and two and tighten the lips some more
  • Play B: try pushing down valves numbered two and tighten the lips a little more
  • End with High C: let go of all three valves

Step 8: Practice More And More

After finishing playing the first C scale, so-called the “Concert B flat” scale, on your trumpet, you can practice more by moving on to higher-or lower-scales.

Below are some scales for you to consult for your practicing:

Note: Here, an open valve note is written as “ooo” or simply as “Open”.

Whereas, a closed valve note is marked as “xxx” or as “123” together with numbers being attached to each valve and showing which ones are pressed down to produce a pitch.

Also, “1” is the valve closest to you, while “3” is the valve furthest away.

Moreover, you can consult more in a beginner trumpet music book and keep practicing at least 15-30 minutes every day for the best progress.

Learn The First Scale - Trumpet

How to Improve Your Skill

Small Tips For Practicing

  • Practice a little daily rather than a lot once or twice a week
  • Avoid holding your instrument too tightly
  • Have a rest as soon as your chops become tired
  • Take a full and deep breath and avoid lifting your shoulders while inhaling
  • Avoid excessive mouthpiece pressure
  • Keep as much lower lip as the upper one when using the mouthpiece
  • Practice with someone else to have more fun, to share experiences and get a better practice pace
  • Set longer-term goals to try more.

Listen, Listen and Listen

Like many busy people, daily activities take up a large amount of my time, in terms of work, family, Facebook, sleep and driving.

Hence, I have no time for listening to music although I used to spend much time doing it.

More terribly, I cannot remember when I last listened to a Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue or Mahler Symphony from the beginning to the end without being distracted.

If you are in the same situation, you will be advised to try spending time listening to music, especially famous trumpet songs.

Thanks to listening to great music, we can improve our musicianship through different styles of music.

Moreover, if you are able to hear a live concert, I make sure that you will never forget why we do what we do.


Be confident and believe in yourself, let’s take a chance to perform playing trumpet in front of many people.

Don’t be scared of your level of progress, because only with 4-5 notes, you can make music.

In fact, you have the essential tools to connect and deliver your emotion to your audience.

One time, I have seen a band students who are just beginners make people first smile and then cry with the songs they play, although they have learned less than a year.

It is not necessary to play at a symphony hall where there are a lot of people. Instead, you can play in a church, a local nursing home or find and participate in a community band.

I make sure that when you connect with other people through playing trumpet, you will be inspired and encouraged to practice more.

As a result, you’re playing trumpet ability will be enhanced thoroughly.

Only a small number of people in the world are able to perform in front of people and show off your talent.

Hence, be a special person and enjoy the thrill of playing a musical instrument like trumpet.


After consulting this post, you may answer the question: how to play trumpet? Furthermore, you can get some needed information when deciding to learn to play this type of instrument.

Now, don’t hesitate to own a trumpet and practice it yourself. Hopefully, you will apply those steps successfully and broadly introduce the above information to people who need it.

William Cramer, the founder of Fire Inside Music, started to learn music in 2012 with a piano. He has continued to level-up his playing skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other beginners. He launched Fire Inside Music in 2017 to make playing music more approachable for everyone looking to master a musical instrument.