The trumpet is known for its strong brassy sound. Although there are three different valves on a trumpet, much of its sound is attributed to lip tension. Playing the trumpet correctly does require strong, well-disciplined lips. Lip vibrations can seem very complicated at first, but once mastered, they do become second nature.
To play the trumpet, you must pucker your lips in a way that is very similar to a puckered kiss. Press your lips to the trumpet mouth piece and "smile" slightly. If you blow, creating a vibrating, buzzing, sound with your lips, then the air pressure in your mouth will force your lips slightly open. The air flowing through the trumpet produces a sound. The higher the lip tension, the higher the frequency and pitch you will produce. Moving your lips up and down while blowing into the trumpet will create various harmonious notes as well.
When practicing the trumpet, or any brass instrument for that matter, a player should begin by working through some scales. This will help strengthen the players lips and also help with fingering memorization. Next, the player should move his or her lips up and down to work on strength. Trying to play with the sides of the lips can also help strengthen the lips. Once a player has strong lips, he or she can mix various lip positions along with various valve combinations to create beautiful music. These combinations put together are key to the traditional sound of the trumpet.
Some songs can be played without even changing any valve combinations, or using any valves at all. For example, "TAPS," which is often played at military funerals or on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, can be played without ever pressing down a single valve. The entire song is played in the "open" position.
Likewise, almost every other song or note that is played is done so with at least a few valves pressed down. Changing from one note to the other is done by simply moving ones lips and pressing various combinations of valves. Every individual note has its own preset combination of valves and lip position. In addition to producing different notes, a player's lips and breath can also be used to play notes louder or softer. These crescendos and decrescendos are a vital part of orchestral and marching band pieces. Similarly, if a player rolls his or her tongue while playing, a unique sound is produced.
There are many things needed to be a good trumpet player. Practice is just one of those. Talent is another. Learning the intricacies of playing a musical instrument, any musical instrument, but in this case the trumpet, is something that takes time, patience, work and heart. But maybe even more, in order to produce a complete sound from a trumpet, strong lips are a must.
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