Learning trumpet can be a very rewarding experience, it can also be one very frustrating experience as well if the student doesn’t have a good teacher showing them the specifics of how to produce sound. The most basic and fundamental part of playing any instrument is creating sound. For a drummer, it starts with learning how to hit the head of the drum, the piano player – how to position their hands and which finger to use, etc. But neither need to learn how to produce these sounds… the instrument does it for them.
Brass players are not nearly as fortunate! Each player must start by getting their lips to buzz. This is essentially blowing air through their lips and allowing the lips to vibrate. Sounds simple, and it is… but it’s not easy! Especially if someone isn’t given clear instructions on how to achieve this! What I tell all of my beginning students is to think of keeping your lips in a relaxed closed position and to think about a kiss or a puckering action from the corners only!
Once I have a new student “free lip buzzing” (no mouthpiece, no horn), then we can move on to just the mouthpiece. What this does is suddenly makes things easier for the student because the mouthpiece offers more support for the lips and a lot more resistance for the air. Once we’ve achieved a good buzzing pattern with the mouthpiece, we then move to creating actual notes with the horn.
I believe that by giving the student a good solid foundation to fall back on, they will not be hindered by or plagued with embouchure problems in the future. They will have a solid foundation for playing based on relaxed lips that are free to vibrate and air being pushed from the abs!
For private trumpet lessons, ways to overcome range or sound problems, or to get a solid start on playing a brass instrument, please visit Brass Player Solution to contact Keith Fiala.
The Trumpet Shall Sound from Handel’s Messiah performed live by Nathaniel Mayfield on baroque trumpet in December, 2007.
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