Tips for beginners

The main focus of this site are the exercises but here is a quick glance of things that are related to trumpet playing. This section is not intended to tell what's absolutely right or wrong but to bring out few points to beginners for consideration. Everyone has to seek the best way to play the instrument, preferably with a teacher. This applies especially to embouchure issues; if you have obtained a wrong habit, it's extremely difficult to unlearn. The main purpose of this site is to be an exercise material bank, not an online substitute of a teacher.


Because everybody has individual teeth and lip shape, there are a number of embouchures developed. None of them are right or wrong, you'll have to find the way that feels best for you. There are some general rules though that apply to most of them. You must keep the corners of your mouth firm so the air won't leak from there. When going up, it's generally a better idea to push the lips a bit more center than to stretch them. Stretching will thinner the lip tissue which will expose it to damage and will make the sound thinner.

In the most used embochure (Farkas), you should keep the lips even (pushing your jaw out a bit helps to get teeth more in the same level) but some embouchures require rolling/curling the lips in (Stevens) or out (Maggio) but they shouldn't overlap. You can find a more comprehensive list of embouchures from here with more specific explanations.

When you get a decent sound from the instrument, a good way to get familiar with the instrument is to play long tones. That way your lips and facial muscles (embouchure, "chops") get used to the vibration and learn how to get the desired note. You can use the fingering chart below for guidance.



Mouthpiece placement

It's usually recommended to have as much lower lip as the upper one in the mouthpiece. There are individual differencies in teeth, lips and skull so place the mouthpiece to the most comfortable and natural spot for you. If the mouthpiece is significantly more on either lip, it's recommended to adjust it a little bit more center. Sometimes it's advised to have a little more upper than lower lip in the mouthpiece (based on the idea that the mouthpiece "sits" on the lower lip so there is minimum pressure applied to the upper lip, allowing it to vibrate more freely).

Wet vs. dry lips

Both ways are correct. Dry lips will stick to the mouthpiece and therefore won't slip. On the other hand wet lips will slide under the mouthpiece and are allowed to adjust to current dynamics and register more freely. Just experiment which one feels better for you.


Always take a full, deep breath. Don't lift shoulders when inhaling; try to relax while taking air instead of tensing yourself. Imagining the air getting way deep and down will help you to avoid lifting your shoulders (this is generally easier when breathing through the mouth). Do not hold the air in, inhale in tempo and blow instantly.


Don't point the bell to the floor (it's natural to have the trumpet slightly pointing downwards but not too much). Don't lock your knees, try to be relaxed but do not slouch. Keep your arms a little away from your body. Good physical condition will help you with your posture, as well as breathing issues.

It's easier to get a full inhale and power to the blow when standing but if you'll have to sit while playing, sit up, keep your feet on the floor and sit on the edge of the chair (don't lean to the back of the chair).

At a gig, an important thing to remember is not to play to the music stand. Opposite thing with a microphone, remember to point your trumpet towards it and set the microhone stand height best for you.

How to hold the instrument

Right hand

  • Thumb in between 1st and 2nd valve casings or in front of 1st valve casing.
  • Index-, middle- and ring-fingers to the valves (finger buttons).
  • Little finger on the hook (it's preferred not to hold the little finger in the hook to prevent excessive pressure).

Left hand

  • Thumb on the 1st valve slide (most trumpets have a hook for the thumb).
  • Index-, and middle fingers behind the 3rd valve casing.
  • Ring finger in the 3rd valve slide ring.
  • Little finger under the 3rd valve slide.

Do not hold the instrument too tightly. Support the weight of the instrument only with the left hand, that allows you to push the valves more efficiently with your right hand.


It's recommended to press the the valve straight down with the "cushions" of your fingers. If you repeatedly press them diagonally, it's possible that they will eventually start jamming. Your nails shouldn't touch the finger button and neither should the joints of your fingers. Snap the valves down vigorously to get the note changes as clean as possible.


It's better to practice a little every day than a lot once or twice a week. Remember to rest when you feel your chops tired. As a general rule, rest as much as you play. Avoid excessive mouthpiece pressure, altough some is needed for proper tone and to avoid air leaking under the mouthpiece.

Further reading:


Chase Sanborn's Brass Tactics is a modern, comprehensive and an easy-to-understand book about various aspects of trumpet playing. Good for beginners as well as advanced players.

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