Low, Grumbling Trumpet Sound and how to approach fixing it


If your Trumpet is working, you’ve tried hard and still can’t get anything good to come out of it, this post is for you. If words like grumbly or flabby or gross are good descriptions of how you sound on the trumpet right now read on – we’re going to fix that.

Most school band methods start on what the teacher wants to call “Concert F” or “Concert Eb” but you’re here because those notes are not coming out of your instrument. That’s a frustrating experience for you and the mission here is to shorten the time it takes to get those right notes coming out.

The first thing to do is get a real note out – any real note. Most often the problem is that you’re not using enough air and/or that air isn’t moving fast enough.

  • Start with decent posture and the Trumpet somewhere close to horizontal – as I said to a student yesterday, “you don’t want to look like a clarinet player.”
  • Use the muscles at the ends of your lips to keep your lips together (but not sticking out) and place the mouthpiece in the middle.
  • Leave the valves alone for now.
  • Take a big breath and let it out through the Trumpet. If you got a sound check below to see what that sound was. If you didn’t get a sound at all do it again but start with your tongue in the place behind your teeth where you would if you were saying “T” or “L”. The idea is to let the air-pressure out by removing your tongue from that position. It’s a bit like kick-starting your sound. If you still don’t get a sound jump over to this other post and then come back to learn some melodies.

Easy 3-note Melodies

… using only Low notes for Trumpet

Most of these are in odd keys, but that’s because they’re not for playing with any other instruments. (If that statement sounds like a foreign language just skip down, look at the notes, listen and imitate.) They’re particularly well suited to beginning Trumpet players who just can’t seem to play the notes that everyone else in band is playing. If you’re making really low sounds these are for you.

Don’t get worried about learning the note names today, just get playing these bits of tunes. Use the fingerings and your ear. These are short and you’ve probably heard them.

If you can get a low, real trumpet note it’s probably Low C, which sounds like this:

If your note seems a little lower try taking and using more air, or faster air. If that still doesn’t work try again with a couple of valves down, or one valve until you get something like a sound.

If the Open (no valves) note is a G you might not need this post – skip over to Here or Here. You can still have some fun with the tunes below – and maybe learn something.

A G sounds like this on a Trumpet:

If your note is higher than that sample you’re not having trouble.

The tunes below require some pushing down of the valves. For now, try the first note of Frère Jacques from each key to find the group of tunes (the Key) that you’re comfortable starting with. If you find that you can only play the first note and the others are too high, go to a lower key. There are some even lower notes which your band teacher can show you, but our mission here is to move you upward. As soon as you find a given key playable move to the next one. By the time you’re at the 5th one you’ve probably caught up to your class and learned a bunch of notes they don’t know. Bonus!

Oh yeah, try to play three, four or even 5 notes in one monster breath, rather than taking individual stabs at notes.

The Really, Really Low Key

In this key the three notes you’ll use are called A-flat, B-flat and C. They are fingered 2+3, 1, and open. The pattern is A-flat, B-flat, C, A-flat (repeat) so the fingerings are 2+3, 1, 0, 2+3 (repeat).

Frère Jacques first notes:

The pattern is A-flat, B-flat, C, A-flat (repeat) so the fingerings are 2+3, 1, 0, 2+3 (repeat).

It looks like this on paper, but concentrate on how it sounds:

Hot Crossed Buns first notes are the same three notes in a different order:

The pattern is C, B-flat, A-flat (repeat) then 4 A-flats, 4 B-flats, C, B-flat, A-flat Fingerings are 0, 1, 2+3 (repeat) then 2+3 for 4 notes, 1 for 4 notes, 0, 1, 2+3

Mary Had a Little Lamb first notes:

Au claire de la lune first notes:

The Really Low Key

Frère Jacques first notes:

Hot Crossed Buns first notes are the same three notes in a different order:

Mary Had a Little Lamb first notes:

Au claire de la lune first notes:

The Low Key

Frère Jacques first notes:

Hot Crossed Buns first notes are the same three notes in a different order:

Mary Had a Little Lamb first notes:

Au claire de la lune first notes:

The Kinda Low Key

Frère Jacques first notes:

Hot Crossed Buns first notes are the same three notes in a different order:

Mary Had a Little Lamb first notes:

Au claire de la lune first notes:

The Sorta Low Key

Frère Jacques first notes:

Hot Crossed Buns first notes are the same three notes in a different order:

Mary Had a Little Lamb first notes:

Au claire de la lune first notes:

You’re caught up! There’s a lot of useful Trumpet playing tips on this site so stick around.

You should make sure you’ve been to this page and made sense of it.

There is a different kind of Trumpet Fingering Chart over here that makes more sense than the normal one.

I’ll get a printable tune sheet in here asap, and follow this post with some tunes that use more than 3 notes ( like maybe a better version of Mary …).

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