Music Education – Band – The Trumpet

Quote of the Day:

Life is something like a trumpet. If you don’t put anything in, you won’t get anything out.

William Christopher Handy


A trumpet is a musical instrument commonly used in classical and jazz ensembles. The trumpet group contains the instruments with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpet-like instruments have historically been used as signaling devices in battle or hunting, with examples dating back to at least 1500 BC; they began to be used as musical instruments only in the late-14th or early 15th century. Trumpets are used in art music styles, for instance in orchestras and concert bands, and in popular music styles such as jazz. They are played by blowing air through almost-closed lips (called the player’s embouchure), producing a “buzzing” sound that starts a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the instrument. Since the late 15th century they have primarily been constructed of brass tubing, usually bent twice into a rounded rectangular shape.

playing_trumpetThere are many distinct types of trumpet, with the most common being pitched in B♭ (a transposing instrument), having a tubing length of about 1.48 m (4 ft 10 in). Early trumpets did not provide means to change the length of tubing, whereas modern instruments generally have three (or sometimes four) valves in order to change their pitch. Most trumpets have valves of the piston type, while some have the rotary type. The use of rotary-valved trumpets is more common in orchestral settings, although this practice varies by country. Each valve, when engaged, increases the length of tubing, lowering the pitch of the instrument.


For hundreds of years instrument makers have experimented with different shapes and sizes of trumpets.

Natural Trumpets
Natural trumpets are like bugles, which have no valves to change the pitches. Sometimes you can see them being played in orchestras when the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is being played.

Slide Trumpets
Beginning in the 15th century instrument makers experimented with slides for the trumpet, similar to the trombone slide. The slide allowed the trumpet player to play more notes, though it was awkward to play. This went on for about 400 years.

Valve Trumpets
Finally in 1813, valves (those button thingies) were invented.

Top 10 Most Famous Trumpet Players

  1. Louis Armstrong
  2. Miles Davis- Cool Jazz
  3. Dizzy Gillespie
  4. Lee Morgan
  5. Chet Baker – Let’s Get Lost
  6. Winton Marsalis – Linus and Lucy
  7. Bix Beiderbecke – Big Boy
  8. Harry James
  9. Herb Alpert – Tijuana Taxi
  10. King Oliver

This is one of my all time favorite songs featuring the trumpet – Bugler’s Holiday


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