Let’s look at whether you should choose the trumpet for your kids or yourself.
There are many instruments to choose from, and what are the odds for success if you go for the trumpet?
The trumpet is a wonderful and extremely popular instrument that you can use in so many settings, but exactly how hard or easy is it to learn to master the trumpet?
Here’s How Hard It Is To Learn To Play Trumpet
The basics of the trumpet are easy to learn and you only have one tone to keep track of as opposed to many other instruments. However, it takes much practice to build up the muscles around the lips to produce a good clean tone.
In this article we will dive deep into what it takes for a complete beginner to learn to play the trumpet.
Let’s start by looking at how much time you need to set aside.
How Long Does It Take to Learn to Play Trumpet?
You can learn to play a basic on a trumpet in a few months if you practice daily, but with bi-weekly practice, it takes 1-2 years to master the trumpet. You need to build up muscles and get familiar with the mouthpiece (embouchure).
You cannot really speed up the process of learning the trumpet because it takes time to build up the embouchure – meaning the muscles and tension around your lips (scroll down for an explanation).
Most people think you simply blow into the mouthpiece in order to produce a tone, but that’s not true.
In fact, nothing really happens when you simply blow into a trumpet.
You need to generate the sound with your lips by pressing the lips together and producing a buzzing sound.
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After a few months, most beginners will be able to play simple tunes such as the happy birthday song (see our easy notation for trumpet beginners).
How Long Does It Take To Become An Expert?
In order to become an expert trumpeter, you should expect 4-5 years of practice. You need to keep at it in order to maintain an expert-level mastery of the trumpet, otherwise, your muscles around the lips will lose strength and tension.
Over the years, you will get a better and better tonal range.
The low notes are fairly easy to learn to master but the upper range on the trumpet takes lots of practice and you will slowly add another note to your range as you keep practicing.
The trumpet is not the easiest instrument to master as you need to form the tone with your lips and we don’t have a reed to generate the sound like on saxophones and clarinets.
However, there are ways to shorten the runway and learn to play the trumpet much faster, as we will look into at the end of this article.
Many Hours Does It Take to Learn to Play Trumpet?
You need to practice at least half an hour 3-4 times per week for 6 months in order to learn how to play the trumpet. That’s a total of 50 hours. To get a clean tone every time you should expect closer to 100 hours of practice.
Let’s dig deeper into the numbers:
Most 1-5 graders will not have the patience to practice for a full hour after they are done with school. That’s why I’ve broken it into half-hour intervals.
If we decide to practice 4 times per week, it will amount to 2 hours of actual practice per week. At this rate, it’s realistic to be able to play a few clean tones without cracks after a few months.
Then we need a few more months to work on the tone and get a more stable and confident airflow, so to speak.
With the trumpet, it’s important to practice regularly in order to build up “embouchure”.
Let’s look at what exactly we mean when we say embouchure.
Here’s an explanation of the word “embouchure”
Embouchure is used to describe how strong your lip muscles are around the mouthpiece and how good your form is. How good your embouchure is will depend on how much you practice, and it takes years to build up a strong embouchure.
The embouchure is a word you often hear among trumpeters. Students will usually be told that they “need to work on that embouchure”.
When you have practiced the trumpet and you start to master a good tone you will have built up sufficient embouchure.
Then you’re ready to move on from a complete beginner to intermediate.
Are Trumpets Harder to Master Than Other Instruments?
I play several instruments and I still enjoy learning to play new instruments.
I play trumpet, piano, guitar, saxophone, and flute.
Below are my thoughts on how hard it is to learn to play the trumpet compared to these other instruments, and here’s a good article about why the trumpet is not as hard to master as you would think.
Trumpet vs. Guitar – Which Is Easier?
It typically takes more time to learn to master the trumpet than the guitar because you are limited in the number of hours you can practice per day. Guitar students can practice much more each day as they don’t need to build up muscles around the lips.
You cannot simply practice the trumpets for 8 hours a day like you can on a guitar or a piano.
When I learned to play the guitar I would sit up almost all night on weekends and practice scales and play songs I liked. But that’s simply impossible on a trumpet.
Trumpet vs. Piano – Which Is Easier?
On the trumpet, you only need to worry about one tone at a time in one key, but your lips will get tired more quickly than your fingers. That means you cannot practice the trumpet for several hours a day in the beginning. However, the trumpet requires fewer hours of practice.
I’d say that it’s easier to learn to play the trumpet as you don’t need to learn how to play several notes at the same time. Also, you can more easily look at your fingers while you play.
On the piano, you need to focus on the note sheet and you must tilt your head away from the notes in order to watch your hands. To me, that made it harder to learn to play the piano.
Trumpet vs. Saxophone – Which Is Easier?
A saxophone has more buttons and the finger positions are harder to learn. However, on the trumpet, you need to learn how to form the sound with your lips, as you don’t have the vibrating reed (wood) to form the sound. I believe the saxophone and the trumpet are equally hard to learn.
I learned to play the trumpet when I was 6 and I picked up the saxophone when I was 15. It took me much longer to learn how to position my hands and fingers on the saxophone, but I was able to produce a good tone right away.
Of course, I already had a good musculature around the lips from playing the trumpet but it actually felt very different once I got the mouthpiece of the saxophone in my mouth.
The saxophone does not require you to form the sound with your lips, the reed will do that for you.
I’d say the two instruments are equally hard or easy to learn.
Trumpet vs. Violin – Which Is Easier?
The violin requires more practice to learn than the trumpet. The stroke and position of the bow is difficult to master and it takes more practice. On the trumpet, the tone is defined by the pipe length whereas on the violin you also need to position your fingers very precisely.
My sister played the violin for many years and my granddad was a real master on the violin. So I also decided to give it a try.
I gave up learning to play the violin. Later I picked up the cello, and it was the same thing.
It was much easier for me to learn to play the trumpet as you only need to worry about your airflow and the the 3-finger position. You will quickly learn the finger positions for a trumpet scale, compared to the violin.
Trumpet vs. Flute – Which Is Easier?
The flute is much easier to learn than the trumpet. On the flute, you simply lift another finger for each next note on a scale and you will be able to make a stable sound on the flute already on the first day. The trumpet requires much more practice to build up embouchure.
I remember how we all learned how to play the flute in school. It was fairly easy as you simply put it in your mouth and start blowing gently to produce a sound.
However, the trumpet is much more fun and can be applied in more band and orchestral settings than the flute.
Can You Teach Yourself Trumpet?
You will need someone to show you how to position the mouthpiece on your lips and to guide you to a good clean buzzing sound to produce a good tone. However, you don’t need to attend class if you have access to online courses and training.
I believe you can teach yourself to play the trumpet if you’re really motivated to do so.
It’s not harder than playing the drums or the piano. In fact, I think you will get a grasp of it much faster as you only have one line of notes you need to focus on at the time.
Any Good (Free) Resources Online?
There are many great online resources that can help you learn to play the trumpet.
I advice you to go straight to YouTube as this is something where you need to see someone do it. It’s hard to learn to play the trumpet from a book or directly from looking at note sheets.
There are tons of videos like this one that will teach you all the basics of how to learn to play the trumpet:
These YouTube lessons will make it much easier for you to learn how to play the trumpet as you get to watch some actually do it.
That’s the most important thing.
You need to see exactly how someone will go about producing that buzzing sound with the lips.
As soon as you can get your lips to “play” a stable buzzing sound, it will be easier when you position the mouthpiece against your lips.
Here’s another good channel that will teach you how to hold the instrument as well as some good basics lessons on how to play the trumpet:
Can Anybody Learn to Play the Trumpet?
Almost anyone can learn to play the trumpet. However, it can be tough for smaller kids while they grow new front teeth, but once your new teeth have grown out, most people can learn to play the trumpet.
These things can prevent you from being able to learn the trumpet:
- Braces on your teeth
- Missing front teeth
- Replacing baby teeth
Can Adults Learn To Play Trumpet?
Adults can learn to play the trumpet just as well as kids. It’s not hard to learn the finger positions and the rest has to do with building up the muscles around the lips and mouth. Grown-ups might already know how to read a note sheet which will also make it much faster.
I know many people who picked up the trumpet or other brass instruments at a mature age.
As an adult, you might be able to foster more endurance as you may be more determined to learn this new skill.
Remember, most kids start playing an instrument because the parents really want them to.
What About Elderly People?
Elderly people can also learn to play the trumpet. You don’t need a young body to produce a good steady airflow and tension for the buzzing sound. With practice, almost anyone can learn to play the trumpet over a period of a few years.
In fact, my mother picked up the trumpet at the age of 71, and she has taught herself to play scales and simple tunes after a few years without much practice.
7 Tips to Make It Easier to Learn the Trumpet
Let’s look at a few tips you can incoorporate to learn to play the trumpet more easily and faster:
- Bring the mouthpiece and practice everywhere
Put a mouthpiece in the pocket of your jacket or your purse. This will enable you to practice your buzz anywhere.
- Practice without the mouthpiece
Once in a while, play the trumpet with no mouthpiece. It’s much harder, and when you put the mouthpiece back on you will notice how easy it becomes.
- Learn to buzz without the mouthpiece
You should also practice producing the buzzing sound without the mouthpiece. This will also enable you to work on your embouchure anywhere.
- Practice the finger positions anywhere
You can also practice your scales without the instrument. This will help you memorize the finger positioning more quickly.
- Use multiple teachers (online)
As you follow different teachers you will pick up different tips and tricks simultaneously.
- Hire a private teacher
To really speed things you need someone to teach you directly.
- Test different mouthpieces
Try out a few other mouthpieces besides the one you got with your trumpet. You might find that your mouth is better suited with a mouthpiece with a slightly bigger or smaller cup.
Which Trumpet Is the Easiest Option for Beginners?
Here are some of the best beginner trumpets we have found online.
These are all from very respected and good brands and online stores you can trust.