As a beginner, you can’t expect to be the best. However, you should still expect to be able to get a decent sound out of your trumpet.
Here are some tips to help you work on your tone and why your trumpet might not sound the best.
1. Listen to Good Players
One of the best things you can do to work on your tone is to listen to the greats.
Find recordings on YouTube of professional trumpeters and note how they sound.
As a beginner, you probably won’t sound like a professional. However, you can use recordings to inspire your playing and help work on your tone.
If you don’t know how good trumpet tone sounds, it can be hard to produce that yourself. Having a few recordings to use as a reference can help you slowly work on your tone production.
2. Hold Your Trumpet Correctly
It sounds simple, but you need to hold your trumpet at the right angle.
If you hold it too low but don’t adjust your head, you won’t be able to get the best possible sound.
Make sure your mouthpiece sits firmly against your lips and that they’re parallel. Ideally, you should hold your head straight and look directly ahead to get a good sound that projects.
Sometimes, if your trumpet is too low, you could struggle to get a nice sound. Even the best players need to use the proper position to make playing easier.
3. Open Your Throat
When you play the trumpet, you need to have your throat as open as possible.
That will help the air move smoothly into your mouth and lips.
If you close your throat too much, you could cut off the airstream, which can make your trumpet crack. Your throat can be a place where you experience a lot of tension.
Consider doing some exercises to open your throat without playing the trumpet. Then, when you finally grab your trumpet and start to play, you may find it’s easier to open your throat.
4. Sing and Play
A relatively simple way to get you to open your throat is to sing. You can do this while playing the trumpet or separately since singing and playing together is difficult.
Either way, pay attention to how your throat feels when you sing a note. That note doesn’t have to be a particular pitch, but it should be comfortable for you to sing.
Feel how open your throat is, and your body’s rest is, especially your abdomen. You’ll use the same muscles to open your throat when you play the trumpet without singing.
If you can do both simultaneously, that’s a great way to practice further opening your throat. However, it can take a lot of practice to sing and play the trumpet well.
5. Breathe Deeply
You might crack some notes or get a spitty sound if you use a small amount of air. To play the trumpet with a good sound, you should work on taking deep, full breaths.
Breathe in slowly and keep inhaling until your lungs fill up completely. You can then hold your breath and release the air slowly but consistently.
Do this without the trumpet a few times, and time yourself. Try to breathe in over four seconds, breathe out for eight seconds, and extend the period where you exhale.
Then, practice taking quicker breaths but still getting plenty of air. When you add the trumpet back in, you can breathe in much more easily, and you might notice a clearer, fuller sound.
6. Focus on the Mouthpiece
As a beginner, you may have already done some exercises on the mouthpiece.
You can do a lot with just that part of the trumpet, so do more mouthpiece practice.
For example, do your breathing exercises, but use the mouthpiece and your trumpet embouchure when you exhale. You can also try to sing and play using the mouthpiece.
The embouchure is another vital part of getting the best possible response when playing the trumpet. As you work with the mouthpiece, you may also notice that it’s a bigger problem, and you need a new one to play better.
7. Work on Long Tones
When you’re ready to add back your trumpet body, you should work on long tones.
This is where you play one note for as long as you can rather than playing scales or other technical exercises. It gives you the chance to work on how individual notes sound.
As you play the trumpet, consider experimenting with different dynamics. Then, you can determine when it gets harder to maintain a good sound, and you can focus on that dynamic.
You can also play chromatic scales using long tones. So maybe you hold a G, and you move down to an F# and hold it before switching to an F and then an E.
This can help you with your tone and help you change notes smoothly.
8. Start on an Easy Note
Choose a note in the middle of the trumpet range, preferably one that you can produce easily. This will help you get better results faster when you do long tones.
Work on getting a smoother, clearer tone on that one note. Take a deep breath and aim to hold the pitch for as long as possible without letting the note go flat.
After you’re happy with the sound, move to the next note chromatically up or down. Repeat the process for all of the notes you’ve learned so far.
You may not know many notes as a beginner, so don’t worry if you can only play a few. Either way, it’s better to start working on your tone now to use similar techniques when you learn new notes.
9. Work on Harmonics
Another great way to get a stable tone is to focus on the harmonic series.
This is where you play different pitches just by changing your embouchure and air, but the fingering stays the same.
Using the G in the staff as an example, you may try to play middle C, using the same fingering. That note is lower, so you may need to slightly slow down your air or widen your embouchure.
Next, work on the C in the staff, using the same fingering. Consider how you need to adjust your embouchure to get the desired pitch and use a piano or a tuning fork if you can’t get the note on your own.
Hearing the note may help you determine how to produce it on your trumpet. The nice thing about this series is that you don’t have to put any valves down to focus on your tone.
10. Notice and Resolve Tension
Another essential thing to get a good sound is paying attention to tension.
Take note of that whenever your throat closes up, or your arms start to flex too much.
Stretch your arms, and do some singing to open the throat. If you have tension in your lips, do some lip exercises to help loosen those muscles.
When playing, you feel tense, keeping you from getting your best possible sound. Even if you normally get a good tone, a bit of tenseness may take that all away, so stay relaxed as much as you can when you play.
11. Consider New Equipment
If you try many things and nothing seems to work, you might want to get a different trumpet or mouthpiece. Not every instrument or accessory will suit every player.
As a beginner, you shouldn’t need anything special, but that can change as you gain experience. You may find that you play better on a different trumpet brand.
Or you could need a smaller or larger mouthpiece than what you have. Be sure to test out many options before buying your next trumpet or mouthpiece to get something that works for you.
That could be the perfect solution to your trumpet sound.
Can the Crackling Sound Be Due to a Bad Trumpet?
A crackling sound could occur if you have a bad trumpet.
However, a leaking water key may also cause problems since your air needs to travel through the entire length of the instrument.
Even the best players may struggle to get a good tone on a trumpet that needs repairs. So make sure to take your trumpet to a professional before upgrading.
Maybe your instrument is the problem, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fix it. Trumpet repairs may be more cost-effective than purchasing a whole new trumpet.
How Do You Test If the Trumpet Can Produce a Good Clear Tone?
When testing a trumpet, you should look for dents or dings, especially if they’re close to the leadpipe.
Even small dents may affect the sound of a trumpet.
Fortunately, a good repair tech may be able to remove the dings or minimize their effect on your tone. They can also check for leaks in your water key or the trumpet valves, which can also cause tone problems.
The trumpet is probably the problem if you get a great tone with your mouthpiece. So you can check for leaks or dents yourself or ask a trumpet teacher or another player to test your trumpet.
Then, you can determine the instrument is the issue rather than the fact that you’re a beginner and need to practice more.