How to play trumpet

At Warwick Music we believe everyone should have the opportunity to make music. That’s why we’ve put together this page of resources to help any beginner start learning to play trumpet and experience the transformational power of music.

In this beginner guide for those starting their trumpet playing journey we kick off with a blog article written by our very own Warwick Music Group Mum Katie Ruigrok, who recently went through the process of locating music lessons for her son, she’s got some great tips learnt from first-hand experience. We’ll discuss some fundamentals about how a trumpet works and the different types of trumpets, then we’ll delve into some practical lessons to get you started. We’ll conclude with access to some really useful initial resources like a trumpet fingering chart, sheets of major and minor scales and links to some free resources including sheet music and backing tracks.

Your child wants to learn how to play trumpet; where do you start?!

By our very own Warwick Music Mum, Katie Ruigrok.

Like every mum, I want the best for my children. I strive to ensure I am providing them with opportunities that will both support them and further their development.

I have three young boys, each very different. My eldest son is now 7 and is thriving, both academically and generally in life, you know – an all-rounder. Thinking back to reception it was obvious early on that he was a bright child, he seemed to complete all tasks with aplomb. I became mindful of the fact that we would need to ensure he had adequate challenge, both to keep him interested and to support his personal development.

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What is a trumpet?

The trumpet is the oldest and most popular member of the brass instrument family. The trumpet has been around in some form since for over 1500 years, in fact trumpets were found with the Pharos buried in ancient Egypt.

By far the most common type of trumpet is the modern Bb trumpet. This instrument was first invented about a hundred and fifty years ago and hasn’t really changed that much since.

What is a trumpet?

types of trumpets

Types of Trumpets

Trumpets are categorized according to the material used, the sound quality and the size. Trumpets come in a variety of styles and tones.

Types of Trumpets


Learning to play a musical instrument is rewarding for your child

Learning to play a musical instrument is a challenge but with a little bit of effort, the rewards can be plentiful. We have outlined for you some of the milestones your child can look forward to reaching .

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How to play trumpet starter guide

how to play trumpet Quick Start Guide Here’s our guide to playing the trumpet, it’s perfect for beginners. This first step guide can be used to get you started on any kind of trumpet. No matter what material it is made from, this guide will hep you play your first notes on the brass or your new pTrumpet.

Trumpet Breathing

This is the heart and soul of trumpet playing. Take a relaxed deep breath and blow out through your lips.

how to play trumpet Trumpet Breathing
how to play trumpet Trumpet Buzz & Play

Trumpet Buzz & Play

With the mouthpiece in the middle of your lips, create a hole in your lips and blow air through it. If you slowly make the hole smaller as you blow the buzz will begin! Add the mouthpiece to your pTrumpet and repeat the process to make your first sounds

Hand position

This is the most common way to hold the pTrumpet in your left hand – firmly grip the valve block between your thumb and index finger. This is the most common way to place your fingers from your right hand on the pTrumpet’s valves and unique little finger rest.

how to play trumpet Hand position

How the trumpet works

The trumpet is a transposing instrument which means that when the trumpet player plays a written C the note that comes out in concert pitch (same as the piano) is the key name of the trumpet. So; if a Bb trumpet plays a C then the note that comes out would be a Bb on the piano, if an Eb trumpet plays a C then the note that comes out would be an Eb on the piano. This is complicated but it’s not anything to worry about, all teachers, composers and arrangers of music make sure that the parts for trumpet work properly with all the other instruments, just make sure you’re using proper Bb trumpet music when you want to fit in with other instruments.

Music Basic Terminology

Pitch: How high or low a sound is. Usually shown as a letter: A-G and by where the written note is placed: higher or lower on the music stave or staff.

Duration: How long or short a sound is. Measured in beats and shown by the shape of a written note.

Beat: How to measure and describe the passing of time in music, the heartbeat or pulse of the music, what you tap your toe, march or dance to. Measured in beats per minute (BPM) or expressed in an Italian term such as, Presto (fast), Andante (walking pace) or Largo (slow).

Stave or Staff: the familiar horizontal lines that written music is placed on. Think of this like a ladder: the higher the note has climbed the higher the pitch it represents.

Clef: A symbol at the beginning of the music that tells us which pitch belongs on which line of the staff or stave. On trumpet we use the treble or G clef which means the second line is where the note G lives.

Bars and bar lines: Vertical lines on the staff or stave, bar lines help us organise time by dividing the horizontal format of the music into bars.

Time signatures: These numbers at the beginning of a piece of music tell us how many beats in each bar (top number) and what type of note each beat is made from (bottom number). i.e. 44 – four crotchet beats per bar.

Trumpet Harmonic Series Overtones or Partials Chart

types of trumpets
Trumpet Harmonic Series Overtones or Partials Chart

This chart shows the pattern of notes that form the harmonic series or partials for the Bb trumpet with the very lowest pitches, which aren’t usually used on the trumpet, removed (fundamentals or pedal tones). We have written the pitches out on a musical stave in order of valve combinations with the shortest length of tube (no valves or open) first. Please note that the pitches in brackets are too out of tune to be useful.

Time to Tune

You’re going to want to tune your instrument before we start with playing notes and scales. You can use this great app to help you tune your trumpet.

Trumpet fingering chart

When learning to play trumpet notes a great place to start is with a fingering chart

Trumpet fingering chart

Trumpet Major & Minor Scales

Scales are one of the building blocks of music and most players learn various scales throughout their playing journey.

Learning scales helps develop your listening and coordination skills alongside familiarising yourself with where each note lives on the musical stave. A good knowledge of scales is essential for more advanced music reading skills, like sight reading, and a memory of scales really is essential to becoming a good improvising musician.

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Are You Ready part 1: 5 tunes for beginner trumpeters

This course is for beginner Trumpeters of all ages who are learning how to play their first few tunes.

By the end of this course, you’ll know how to play 5 fun and exciting pieces in Disco, Rock, Electronic, Bollywood, and Latin styles, and you’ll be improvising your own ideas.

Try 1 free lesson

Free Trumpet Videos & Downloads

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Treble clef brass teachers book

Trumpet, Cornet, Tenor Horn, Euphonium, Baritone and Tuba in Treble Clef. This teaching resource has been designed for both small group and whole class teaching.

Download PDF

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Quick start guide for pTrumpet

A quick and simple guide to get you started on pTrumpet with backing tracks.

PDFBacking Tracks

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Learn to play trumpet video playlist

Watch these different videos with all you need to know to make a buzz on a brass instrument


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Kay Charlton – Are You Ready?

Thirteen tunes in a variety of styles, with lyrics, actions and space for improvisation and copy-backs.

SampleBuy Online

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Trumpet Duet: A Knight’s Tale

Two short duets ideal for beginner brass group from Jeremy Dibb’s A Knight’s Tale

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Trumpet Trio: Easy Jazzy Trios

Simple trio arrangements of Mark Nightingale’s popular Easy Jazzy Tudes

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Nightingale: Easy Jazzy ‘Tudes (treble clef brass)

Easy Jazzy ‘Tudes is now available with professionally recorded backing tracks that enhance your playing Backing Tracks on iTunes

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