As a trumpet player, you might struggle with creating good tone quality.
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many trumpet players don’t know how to improve their sound, which creates a lot of frustration during their practice time.
Here are all of the ways that trumpet players can improve their tone quality:
Here’s How To Improve Your Trumpet Tone:
Trumpet players can improve tone quality by using more air, staying relaxed, and opening their throat. They should also play long tones, do mouthpiece exercises, and sing before they play. Players should listen to professionals to hear examples of great tone and upgrade to a better trumpet if needed.
Table of Contents
1. Use More Air
In your daily life, you don’t have to think about breathing. It is a natural phenomenon, so you might think that playing wind instruments is easy.
Most trumpet players, especially beginners, do not move enough air through their instruments. This will result in poor tone quality.
Breathing exercises are essential in improving tone. Trumpet players of all experience levels could benefit from increasing their air intake.
Professional trumpet players often do these exercises before each practice session to warm up properly.
You should perform these exercises without your instrument. Sit or stand with good posture. If you hunch your back, there won’t be enough space in your stomach for your lungs to expand. You’ll need to keep this good posture when you eventually pick up your trumpet.
To see what a good trumpet posture looks like and how you should breathe, check out this master class by Dr. Brian Shook.
Here are some breathing exercises for brass players:
Start with Stretching
Make sure that there isn’t any tension in your body, especially around your shoulders, neck, and face.
Tension in your muscles will restrict the amount of air that you inhale and exhale.
You can do simple stretches like rolling your shoulders or neck in a few circles.
Six in, Six out
Move air across your lips, taking air in for six beats and letting it out for six beats.
It’s best to use a metronome. Breath deeply into your diaphragm, staying relaxed and holding your mouth open in an “o” shape. Keep the air slow and steady, not holding your breath at all.
As you do this exercise, you can raise your arm to visualize how the air is moving.
Raise your arm as you take in air, and move your arm back down as your breath out.
Three in, Six out
This is the same exercise, except you breathe in for three counts and exhale for six.
It’s good to practice taking a faster inhale because you often won’t have much time to inhale during ensemble or solo pieces.
There are many more breathing exercises, so you can pick which ones you like the most.
2. Play Long Tones
Long tones are an important part of your warm-up that should never be skipped.
They allow you to focus on tone quality without worrying about fingerings, dynamics, or other issues.
This exercise also strengthens your embouchure. It develops good tone quality by making you work on proper breathing and stability of sound.
It’s necessary to practice long tones every day that you pick up your trumpet.
Long tones are played exactly as you’d expect. The exercises can vary. You essentially hold one pitch for a long time, making sure to sustain a good tone with your breath.
To see long tones in action, you can watch this 3-minute exercise for trumpet players. You can even play along!
3. Listen To Professional Trumpet Players
You’ll never know what a good trumpet tone sounds like until you listen to professionals.
Especially for beginner players, it’s important to consistently hear great trumpet playing so that you can aim to sound like this.
Before you start your at-home practice time, take a few minutes to listen to a great trumpet player. This won’t improve your tone right away, but it will inspire you.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a role model. If you admire trumpet players like Maurice André or Doc Severinsen, you will want to practice more and improve your tone to sound like theirs.
Practicing more often is the key to improving tone quality, and having a role model will encourage you to do this.
You’ll have someone to look up to, as well as a goal to reach. Listen to the greats, and you may eventually sound like them!
4. Stay Relaxed
A good tone comes from resonance. Your mouth and tone need to be open and relaxed so that the sound waves can properly vibrate.
When you start getting stressed or tense during a practice session, take some deep breaths to relax or put down your horn for a while.
It’s better to practice with a relaxed embouchure for a shorter time than playing for hours while tensed.
Keep everything open and relaxed. Even though it is possible to be too relaxed, it’s much harder to get rid of the tendency to tense up.
5. Open Your Throat
A poor tone quality could be caused by tightness in the back of your throat.
To improve the sound of your tone, have a relaxed, open throat.
Playing wind instruments can be difficult. These instrumentalists have to take in large quantities of air, which is an unnatural feeling. Since we naturally take shallow breaths daily, playing trumpets with lots of air can pose challenges.
When you take a big breath, your body wants to tense. The throat will naturally close off. As a trumpet player, you have to combat this reaction.
During your practice time, concentrate on the position of your tongue as you take deep breaths.
Focus on lowering the back of the tongue, as this will let more air flow freely through your horn.
6. Practice With Just the Mouthpiece
Sometimes you can make improvements by buzzing on the mouthpiece.
Your trumpet won’t help you hit a certain note, so you must know to move your embouchure correctly and efficiently.
Just five minutes of buzzing can vastly improve your playing. You can incorporate this into your practice time right after your breathing exercises.
Mouthpiece exercises do a great job of warming up your embouchure.
Buzzing is a form of ear training. When you buzz, you won’t be able to rely on fingerings to make notes. This process will expose whether you can use breath support to create the right pitches.
When you can make a great, full sound on your mouthpiece, this will translate to your trumpet.
Even though buzzing sounds different than trumpet playing, you’ll be able to hear different pitches. Attempt to make each note as clear as possible.
All sound starts with your embouchure. Once you have control over the mouthpiece, you’ll have more control over your tone. The great buzzing will lead to great tone quality.
7. Sing Before You Play
Some trumpet players rely on their trumpet to make the pitches for them.
Often you can get rid of this problem by singing the pitch before you play it.
You don’t have to be a good singer to do this exercise. Pick a note, sing it as best you can, and play the same note on your trumpet.
This frequently helps trumpet players in knowing exactly what pitch they are playing. If you are always missing one note in your solo, try singing the passage to focus on hitting that pitch.
Commonly, players can more easily find a pitch after they have sung it.
8. Consider Upgrading Your Trumpet
You can only improve your tone so much.
Sometimes, your instrument limits your quality of sound because of its construction. Cheaper trumpets won’t have great tone quality, so it might be time to upgrade your trumpet.
Beginners start playing on beginner trumpet models but usually buy a better trumpet after a couple of years. If you are a beginner who has tried many exercises to improve tone with no success, you might need an intermediate trumpet.
Try playing on different trumpets. A friend might have a better trumpet model for you to play. This can determine whether your problems are related to your equipment.
If you notice that your tone improves with a different trumpet, it’s time to make a switch.
We’d recommend going to a music store to experiment with different brands and models. Most music retailers will allow you to play on various trumpets to see which is best for you.
Although buying a new trumpet can be expensive, it can significantly improve your progress as a musician.
Certain trumpets are only supposed to last through your years as a beginner, so consider upgrading your trumpet.
It may take some time to improve the tone quality of your trumpet playing.
Although it cannot happen overnight, you can significantly develop a good tone through various methods.
During your practice time, it’s important to remain relaxed with a fairly open throat. Remember to breathe deeply.
Breathing exercises, long tones, and mouthpiece exercises all work well to enhance tone quality. You can also sing a pitch before you play to decrease your chances of being out of tune.
Keep listening to great trumpet players. This way, you will have the inspiration to continue in your journey to becoming a great musician.
Consider upgrading your trumpet if you have consistently practiced all of these exercises and are still disappointed with your tone quality.
A new instrument can work wonders in improving tone quality.