How to Play High Notes on a Trumpet – Professional Advice

In this article we delve into the technique of playing high notes on your trumpet. Check out these useful tips given by professional trumpet players.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 08, 2021
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When you see a trumpeter playing higher notes, you can usually see that they are really having to strain and put some effort into it. In this guide, we’re exploring how to play high notes on the trumpet easier, without having to stretch and strain too much. It’s not easy, and this is one of those skills you’ll get better at the more you play, but with a few tips you can definitely improve at this skill.

When you just start out, it can feel like you’re never going to be able to do it, but there are methods to play high notes on trumpet for beginners, and ways that you can work your way up to playing more quickly even if you are struggling. You might be surprised at some of the things that you can do! There are numerous exercises to work on playing the high notes on your trumpet.

Build up your endurance

How to Play High Notes on a Trumpet - Professional Advice

One of the first things to do is to build up the endurance you have as a musician. You’re using your lungs, and though you may not believe it, you can definitely improve them, and your breathing techniques.

Practice playing 30 seconds holding a single note at a time. You can start with whichever note you would like to, but it is all about staying consistent and being able to hold the note. Even if you are only going to play short, sharp bursts on a high note, the extra lung power you build will be far better. Eventually, you should find that after daily practice sessions holding notes for longer, you get better at controlling your breath. This helps your technique in pretty much every way, including playing high notes.

Learn to play a high note

If you want to know how to play high notes on the trumpet with less strain then it is important that you gradually build up to it. Start playing C, right in the middle of the range of the trumpet, then you can begin to go up a semitone at a time, from C to C# and so on.

You can follow a pattern and start playing up and down through scales or even the range of the trumpet, from G, Ab, A, Bb, B and C, and then back again. Get used to making a consistent and even sound while you take breaths, and continue to move up and down through the octaves to get used to it.

A lot of people who want to learn how to play high notes on trumpet easier don’t like hearing that one of the main things is simply spending more and more time on it. You also need to make sure you continue to work up to higher and higher notes until you master all of them. It will take time, and daily practice is best.

Whether you buy a beginner trumpet and are just starting to learn, or you already know your stuff and want to advance your technique, the techniques for playing the high notes remain the same.

How to improve your technique

There are a lot of ways that you can improve your trumpet technique. This is the sort of instrument that nobody is ever really “done” learning. You can always pick up new information and get better.

Although fingering technique is important, the breathing techniques are even more important. They are what is actually going to generate the sound.

Get good at controlling your airflow. Instead of trying to blow hard to meet the needs of the higher notes or strain to make a higher tone, you should try to get a consistent airflow. Practice controlling gradually allowing the air to flow through your lungs and into your lips. You should eventually notice that it takes less of your air reserves even when playing notes above C.

Posture makes a huge impact. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that for a brass instrument you need to be good at standing upright and maximizing the air going into your lungs. You can even look into a mirror and practice so that you can see whether or not your posture is conducive to airflow.

Choosing a mouthpiece for high notes

How to Play High Notes on a Trumpet - Professional Advice

While some mouthpieces are better than others for general playing, are some mouthpieces actually better for high notes?

The answer is both “yes” and “no”. There isn’t such a thing as a specific trumpet mouthpiece for high notes. It is all about finding a quality mouthpiece that is the right shape and size for your instrument. The Bach Megatone is a wonderful example of the sort of mouthpiece that can last a long time, and is well extremely durable and comfortable for a variety of trumpets.

This useful guide to mouthpieces can help you to work out which is likely to be the best for your needs.

FAQ

Here are some of the common questions that people have when looking into how to play high notes on trumpet without pressure or extra strain, as well as some generic beginner trumpeter questions.

Is playing high notes that important?

It’s natural that you should want to steer clear of something that can be difficult to learn. If you find it hard to play these notes, even when you buy your first trumpet and you are brand new to student playing and lessons, you might just wonder if you can fully avoid playing the high notes.

Of course, it’s up to you, but would you want to learn an instrument and not be able to enjoy its range? You wouldn’t want to learn the drums without learning how to hit the cymbals, and it’s pretty much the same thing. Learning high notes means you can play solos and never have the embarrassment of telling fellow musicians you haven’t learned how.

What is the highest note you can play on a trumpet?

A trumpet in the key of C can extend to high C, which sits two octaves above middle C. If the trumpet is in the key of Bb, then it is high Bb, which is just below C. You can see an example of a wonderful Jean Paul Bb trumpet here.

There are some subtle variations here, and some people don’t know that there are different types of trumpets. This can be confusing for beginners, but you will quickly get used to the differences and playing your own unique instrument.

What keys do trumpets come in?

Because C and Bb trumpets are by far the most popular, it is almost always assumed that these are the only keys! If you are a true musician and trumpet lover, you’ll know that there are actually many different keys.

Besides Bb (the most popular of all) and C, you can get a variety of different types of trumpets in different keys. The most common are D, Eb and A. These all have slightly different ranges. You can still enjoy playing the same songs on some models, but it is all about getting to grips with your own instrument.

Can I learn to play the trumpet with braces?

Some people are looking into how to play high notes on trumpet with braces, and the answer is that it is very difficult. Braces hurt when you play a brass instrument as the mouthpiece can dig in. While it is possible, there isn’t that much you can do to play high notes any easier. If your dream is to play trumpet then you shouldn’t let braces stop you, but it can be frustrating.

Final thoughts

If you are just starting out in the world of learning the trumpet, you might wonder if there are some hack methods to get better at playing the instrument, and learning how to hit those high notes. Unfortunately, what pretty much every music teacher says is 100% true; practice makes perfect. It comes down to taking the hours and putting the techniques and practice methods into action day after day.

When it comes to learning how to play high notes on a trumpet, the most important of these techniques and the best things to practice are the breathing techniques. You can increase the length of time that you can hold a note for and gradually build up the airflow control and your power to make it far easier to play high notes.

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