Known for its powerful musical presence, the trumpet is one of the oldest instruments in the world. Predecessors to the modern trumpet can be found 4000 years ago in ancient Egypt! Over the course of many years, the trumpet emerged as an important instrument for ceremonial and military purposes. In Medieval Europe, it was the ultimate status symbol for royalty and the wealthy used it for hunting. Although the trumpet has undergone many changes, today's modern trumpet is defined by the valves, which were introduced in the 18th century. As with other instruments in the brass section, the valves are used to lengthen the tubes allowing the musician to change the pitch.
Today, trumpets are a very important instrument in bands and orchestras, but they are also well known for their presence in pop music, jazz and swing. Trumpets are known for being the center of many important fanfares and powerful pieces so this instrument is not for the timid.
How does the trumpet contribute to a band or orchestra?
As the soprano voice, the trumpets often lead the brass section often carrying the melody. Because of its roots in medieval courts, it is often used to be an example of prestige and nobility. It plays an important role in orchestra and is often featured in modern concert bands.
The parts of a trumpet:
- The player uses the mouthpiece to create the sound.
- The valves are pressed to make the tubing longer or shorter.
- The tuning slide can be pulled out or pushed in so that the trumpet is in tune with the rest of the group.
- The water key (also called the spit valve) is used to let excess moisture out of your instrument.
- After traveling through the instrument, the sound comes out of the bell.
How to pick a good trumpet:
Getting your first trumpet is a big deal; here are some things to consider: New or used? Your local music retailer will be able to advise you on pre-loved instruments that they have in stock. This can be a worthy alternative. Unless you know specifically what you want, beware of the internet! You will not get the support, advice and service you will get from your local retailer. If you are going to buy a used trumpet be sure to check the valves to make sure they aren't leaking or noisy. Also, check the body of the trumpet for dents and a worn finish. If you decide to get a used instrument, make sure a professional looks at it to make sure it's a good trumpet. You will have it for a while.
- If you're sitting when you play, try to sit up straight. If you slouch, you won't have the breath support you need.
- Be sure to keep your valves well oiled. This will help your valves to move smoothly. Ask your teacher to show you how to oil your horn properly.
- Move your tuning slide everyday, even if it's just a half-inch. One of the most common repairs for valve instruments like trumpet is that the pieces get "stuck" in place.
Did you know?
In ancient Egypt, trumpets were considered sacred and were only used in worship ceremonies.