Trumpet Sound Tricks

The trumpet is capable of several tricks.

Trumpets are capable of several tricks specific to the instrument. Performers must play these tricks commonly in classical, jazz, rock and popular music. Some of the most common tricks involve manipulating the airstream to create specific effects and using external devices to change the texture and timbre of the instrument's sound. Learning about these tricks makes it possible for the trumpet player to perform them and the audience to recognize them.


There are several types of vibrato available to the trumpeter. Lip vibrato involves using the lip to subtly shake the instrument in a measured fashion. This creates a quick vibrato that is useful in Mariachi music. The jaw vibrato lends itself to classical playing requiring the use of the jaw to create the sound. Trumpet players make a chewing motion with their jaw to change the frequency the tone vibrates. A less common method of vibrato includes the air vibrato in which the diaphragm shakes the airstream to create vibrato.


Mutes come in all shapes and sizes. The purpose of these mutes is to both reduce the sound and change the timbre. The straight mute gives the trumpet a slight metallic nasal buzzing sound. The cup mute has a curled end that gives the trumpet a soft, muffled sound. The bucket mute attaches to the front of the trumpet bell and cuts out the higher frequency trumpet sounds, giving the instrument a subdued sound. Other mutes, including the Harmon “wah-wah” mute, hat mutes and even a toilet plunger changes the sound. Mutes are tricks that all trumpet players should have.


One especially interesting trick is the ability for the trumpeter to play more than one pitch. This trick requires a combination of playing and singing through the instrument. To be most effective, the trumpeter must sing in the same range as the trumpet. Women will have an easier time with this trick than men since most men will have to sing in their falsetto voice. The effect of this trick creates two simultaneous sounds that make the trumpet appear as if it is capable of playing intervals.

Circular Breathing

The majority of trumpet players will never learn this trick as it isn’t required to play the trumpet well. The ability to play continuously without stopping to take a breath requires a trick called circular breathing. When a player circular breathes, she first fills her cheeks with a pocket of air. When she runs out of air, she pushes the air in her cheeks out and inhales through her nose. The air pushed out continues the sound while she takes a breath. This cycle is continued and she is able to breathe continuously while playing.


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