A Systematic Approach to Improving Trumpet Tone Quality

Improving Trumpet Tone Quality:

In order to produce a beautiful trumpet sound, the performer must have a thorough understanding of the fundamental habits essential to brass playing. The next step is how to translate these fundamentals from theory to practical application in the classroom.

A brief explanation of simple trumpet fundamentals, in theory and practice, is as follows:

  • Song: Our concept of sound in theory, and our ability to play with a characteristic sound in practice
  • Wind: An understanding of the basic operation of the respiratory system in theory, and the ability to deliver a free-flowing and uninterrupted stream of wind through the instrument in practice

While most students understand song and wind in theory, they are frequently unable to put them into practice. As an educator, I strive to create scaffolding on which my students will successfully develop their personal understanding of these concepts and thus gain the skills to solve their own problems. I communicate these priorities using the following practice progression:

Listen (breath patterns and singing) – -then- – Play the mouthpiece– -then- – Play the instrument


  • Listen to recorded example of passage in question
  • Sing, work to build accurate concept of sound
  • Perform breath pattern (play the music in question with only the breath)

Play the Mouthpiece

  • Bring concepts of song and wind together via the mouthpiece. If either fundamental is deficient, the student will be able to recognize it more easily.

Play the Instrument

  • Once concepts of song and wind are established, work to apply these fundamentals to the instrument.

By understanding how fundamental concepts such as listening, respiration, and embouchure relate to successful practice and performance, music educators will create a classroom environment that will lead students to higher standards of performance and musical understanding.

This article was submitted by Dr. Jason Crafton, trumpet professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  You may read more information about his bio and achievements here.

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