Does your trumpet need maintenance? Or are you unable to play it for other reasons, like practicing at night?
You can practice music without playing your trumpet, and there are many ways to do that:
Here’s How To Practice Trumpet Without The Trumpet:
Focus on your embouchure, starting with lip exercises and buzzing exercises. You can also use your arm as a fake trumpet to work on fingerings for faster passages. Another option is to review your score and listen to recordings of trumpet players to learn how you can play better.
What Are the Best Lip Exercises for Trumpet Players?
One of the best lip exercises for trumpet players is to make a sound similar to a horse.
This requires you to loosen your lip muscles so that you can blow air through while making the signature horse sound. It can help you release tension that you may have in your lips, which can keep you from getting the best tone.
Another exercise to try is to make a kiss face with your lips and then a smile. Move your lips back and forth to help loosen them up more.
You can do this before playing or during a long rest in the middle of a piece.
If you have your mouthpiece with you, you can do lip slurs. This exercise involves playing octaves using only your lips.
You may do this with your trumpet, but you can use the same muscles to get a similar sound with just the mouthpiece.
How Effective Are Lip Buzzing Exercises for Trumpet Players?
If you can’t buzz your lips well or long, lip buzzing exercises may be very effective.
You can practice buzzing your lips with or without the mouthpiece, so start without.
Buzzing exercises require putting your lips close together and having a small opening. It would be best to have plenty of air pressure to push the air through your lips.
When you first start with lip buzzing exercises, do them in short bursts. If you do them too long, you can make yourself dizzy, especially as a beginner.
Over time, you can do longer buzzing exercises to get even better.
You can also do them to help learn new registers of the trumpet by adjusting your embouchure accordingly.
Can You Build Up Your Embouchure Without the Trumpet Mouthpiece?
You can do some work on your embouchure without the mouthpiece.
However, it will be hard to know if your exercises help if you don’t have a chance to try them with your mouthpiece and trumpet in hand.
Make sure to focus on buzzing your lips when you don’t have a mouthpiece. Work on taking big, deep breaths so that you’ll know how to do that when you add your instrument.
Eventually, you’ll be pretty good at making a trumpet embouchure. At that point, you’ll need to add the mouthpiece to make sure everything will work.
If things don’t work, you may need a new mouthpiece, or you might want to adjust your embouchure to work with your gear.
How Can You Practice the Trumpet Quietly?
You can practice the trumpet quietly using a mute or a special practice device covering your entire instrument.
If you want to work on the mouthpiece alone, that’s an easy way to stay quiet.
Another option is to work on your piano and pianissimo playing so that you can use the entire instrument. These options are great, especially if you don’t want to disturb your family or neighbors.
Other Ways to Practice Without Your Trumpet:
Lip exercises are great, but they aren’t the only option for practicing without your trumpet.
Whether your trumpet needs maintenance or you want to study music late at night, you can work on your skills.
You may not be able to grab your trumpet. However, there are plenty of other aspects of music that can help you play the trumpet better. Spend the time working on those to incorporate everything once you can play your trumpet again.
Here are some of my favorite ways to practice music without an instrument.
Review the Score:
An excellent way to work on music without playing is to look at the score of the pieces you’re studying.
You can see how the trumpet part fits in with the other instruments. Of course, this is relatively easy for trumpet solos or chamber works since there aren’t many parts.
If you’re playing in an orchestra or jazz band, look for a copy of the score. You can see what other musicians are doing, especially during your solos or when the texture gets thin.
Grab your trumpet part and make notes to yourself. For example, you might notice the violins have a clear melody a measure before your entrance, so you mark that in your part to help you come in at the right spot.
Listen to the Piece:
If you don’t have access to the score, you can listen to the piece you want to work on.
Pay attention to your trumpet part to see how the performer interprets the work. This is particularly important for solo repertoire and Baroque music since there are some best practices you may want to follow.
You can also listen to different recordings and compare how various performers interpret the same music. After listening to your part, pay more attention to other instruments and what they have.
As with score study, you may be able to hear something that can help you know when to come in after a long rest.
Use your trumpet part to mark those notes so that you can remember them. The next time you practice the piece or play it in a rehearsal, you’ll have everything you need on the page to play well.
Practice on Your Arm:
Since you only use one hand to press the valves on a trumpet, you can practice fingerings on your arm.
You can hold your left arm in a similar position to where you’d hold your trumpet. Or you can hold the arm more comfortably.
Either way, you can place your right hand on your forearm and use it as a practice tool. This is a great way to practice faster passages that involve a lot of movement in your fingers.
When you have your trumpet on hand, you may feel like the fingerings are easier to switch between.
If you have your trumpet but can’t play it, you can also practice the fingerings. Place your trumpet against your lips and finger along to the music, but don’t use your regular trumpet embouchure.
Increase Your Arm Strength:
The trumpet may be a small instrument, but it can tax your arms.
If you’re a beginner, you may not be able to hold your instrument up for very long. So take a bit of time to work on your arm strength, either by doing strength exercises or by holding your trumpet without playing it.
Another option is to clasp your hands together and hold them in front of your mouth. You may already have to do this when learning the steps for a marching band show, but you can use it in your practice to help build some upper body strength.
When you get to play your trumpet the next time, you may feel stronger. It’s possible you won’t need as many practice breaks, so you can get more practice done in less time.
Getting through a long rehearsal will become much easier for you.
Work on Breath Control:
You can also work on breathing when you can’t practice with your trumpet.
One way to do this is to use a timed breathing exercise. For example, you can breathe in for four counts and over eight counts. This will force you to control your breathing and not release the air all at once.
Sometimes, you may have to play multiple measures of music in one breath. That can be hard if you aren’t used to holding your breath for very long.
As you do any breathing exercises, start with as deep a breath as possible. You’ll have plenty of air to breathe out over a phrase or two.
If you want a more practical exercise, grab your music, and practice the breathing aspect at the right performance tempo to make sure you can get through the phrases.
Practicing the trumpet without your trumpet may not seem possible.
Fortunately, you can do a lot of work to improve your playing, from improving your embouchure to learning more about the music you’re playing.
Then, you can make the most of the time you have to play with your trumpet in your hands.