Trumpet technique can be broken down into 6 main headings:


  • Sound (tone production)

  • Articulation

  • Flexibility

  • Agility

  • Range

  • Endurance


The following are ideas and examples of exercises and etudes that can be used to improve these necessary trumpet skills.

Sound: Good tone production on the trumpet is a combination of a functional embouchure and the proper use of air. Therefore, the following examples will focus on improving embouchure strength and focus, or air flow (Or both!)

1. Long tones. Play sustained notes for at least 12 beats at quarter note = 60 making sure that the tone is full and that the pitch is stable. Continue the same feeling of air flow that you got with the long tones while playing Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies (#1-5) I call these "moving long tones", and the idea is to keep the free air flow that we achieve on regular long tones. Also look at Schlossberg Daily Drills and Gordon Systematic Approach to Daily Practice.

2. Lyrical Studies. Just as we talked about keeping the air flow in the above "moving long tones", playing lyrical studies continues to reinforce the feeling of always using enough air. Materials to use for this purpose are Stamp Warm-up Studies (also used for pedal tones), Concone Lyrical Studies, Bordogni 24 Vocalises (also used for transposition), and Cichowicz Trumpet Flow Studies.

3. Pedal tones and lip bends. Using both pedal tones and lip bends can strengthen the embouchure. Pedal tone exercises from the Stamp Warm-up Studies and Gordon Systematic Approach to Daily Practice are a good place to start.

4. Mouthpiece buzzing. All of the above etudes can be done on the mouthpiece alone. Mouthpiece buzzing is an important part of sound development because it forces the player to focus the notes instead of relying on the trumpet to do it for you.

Articulation: Articulation and response are completely interrelated.  Both are a combination of appropriate balance between the tongue and the air.

When working on articulation, a player must always concentrate on floating the tongue on a foundation of air, and then work on tongue position and easy tongue motion.
Single and "K" tonguing are the basis for all articulation, and must be practiced independently of one another. Without a quick single tongue, smooth triple tongue is impossible. There is no substitute for practice on articulation. The following are suggestions for exercises, but literally every text has a section on tonguing. Try Charlier 36 Etudes (#14, 16, 22, and 25), Goldman Practical Studies (1-4), and most of the Arban's book.

Flexibility: Flexibility actually impacts all aspects of trumpet playing, especially articulation and range. Lip flexibility exercises are actually "tongue level" exercises, since the tongue channels the air to produce the notes. The Arban's book is a good starting place, but other materials include Colin Advanced Lip Flexibilities, Schlossberg Daily Drills, and Irons 27 Groups of Exercises.

Agility: Agility actually refers to the quickness of a player's fingers and brain. Included in this topic will be dexterity drills, transposition etudes, and sight reading texts.

1. Finger dexterity is extremely important, and often overlooked. To improve dexterity, I recommend practicing major scales, minor scales, chromatic scales, and arpeggios right out of the Arban's book. Nothing can replace these etudes. Other sources of challenging finger benders are Nagel Speed Studies and Vizzutti Advanced Etudes.

2. Transposition is a necessary skill for any player with professional goals. It is also one of the most overlooked, since it is hard work and is unrewarding in the short term. Start with the Caffarelli 100 Studi Melodici and Bordogni 24 Vocalises, and graduate to the Sachse 100 Studies.

Be aware that transposition requires a constant long term investment of your time (years!), and should not be overlooked.

3. Sight reading is a skill that can be practiced on a daily basis. Take out any new, old or unfamiliar piece of music, and you have an instant text. Sight read duets with a friend, or challenge yourself just for fun. Hickman Music Speed Reading is a quality text with tips on improving your skills, as is Dufresne Develop Sight Reading.

Range: Range (both high and low) are functions of embouchure strength, tongue position, air flow, and centering. Many exercises already discussed will increase range, such as pedal tones, lip bends, flexibility studies, flow studies, etc. Try practicing octave slurs while making sure to change your vowel sound from ah to eee as you go from low to high. Also make sure not to over-adjust by playing too small or with too much pressure in the high register.  Remember, if you don't practice it, you can't do it--and this applies to high notes as well. Some things to practice are Stamp Warm-up Studies, Gordon Systematic Approach to Daily Practice, Smith Top Tones, and Vizzutti Advanced Etudes.

Perhaps one of the best resources for expanding your high range is the John Faddis Range Builder. Playing 5 minutes of these EVERY OTHER DAY will help you develop the necessary strength & control for increased range.

Endurance: As is the case with range, endurance is also a combination of many of the topics we have already touched upon, and will benefit from many of the same etudes. The two additional things that will most quickly improve endurance are efficiency and loud practice.

1. Efficiency is a necessity for any brass player. Playing the trumpet is extremely physical, and efficient playing will reduce the demands on the player. Efficiency can be achieved by taking care of the following:

A. Always use a good volume of air, and high air speed
B. Always play with your embouchure set 
C. Do not use excessive pressure 
D. Practice upper body relaxation
E. Always think about what you are doing while you play

2. Loud practice is another part of trumpet playing that is often overlooked.  Remember, when practicing at loud dynamic levels, always keep your sound from distorting, and never cause yourself physical pain. Do not use excessive pressure!  Orchestral excerpts are a good source of loud material, as are the Brandt Orchestral Etudes.

Perhaps the best resource for loud playing is the Schilke Power Exercise. Playing 5 minutes of these a day will be all you need to develop the necessary strength for increased endurance.


If you can not open the above pdf files , please click HERE to download and install Adobe Reader.  Adobe Reader is a free resource for viewing and interacting with PDF documents across all platforms & devices.


© 2011 Krammer Music - website by ECNETSERV