History of the Trumpet

The trumpet is one of the oldest instruments in history. Primitive trumpets are found on every continent and are usually associated with ceremonial and tribal rituals. Many of the early trumpets were actually large sea shells or animal horns, and were used as a signal by “buzzing” the lips into the smallest end of the shell or animal horn. As technology improved, trumpets began to be made of brass, and were long, straight instruments with a small end with a mouthpiece into which the lips were buzzed, and a flare at the end called a "bell," as it is today. The early trumpet players would change the note by buzzing their lips at different speeds, and blowing faster and slower speeds of air.


The greatest advancement for the trumpet came in the mid-1800's, with the creation of the valve. There are three valves on today's trumpet, which, when pressing them down, opens up more tubing making the trumpet longer. Buzzing the lips at different speeds, and using different valve combinations, allows a modern trumpet player to play all the different notes.


Today the trumpet is part of the "brass" family of instruments. In the brass family you will find the trumpet, trombone, french horn, baritone, and tuba. All the instruments in the brass family are made of brass, and coated or plated with a silver, black, or brass finish. Each instrument uses a mouthpiece, into which the player buzzes his/her lips. The buzzing sound is amplified (made louder) through the rest of the instrument, until the sound comes out the bell.


The Trumpet Today

There are many different variations on the trumpet, including the cornet, flugel horn, and piccolo trumpet. The trumpet used in band, is called the B-flat trumpet, and B-flat trumpets are all made the exact same size, so one size fits all.


Trumpets can be found in all kinds of music, from concert band, marching band, orchestra, jazz, funk, ska, rhythm and blues, and more. It is one of the loudest instruments in the band, and a trumpet player needs to have the confidence to be heard over the rest of the band or orchestra. Almost anyone can learn to play the trumpet, as long as they are physically capable of holding the instrument and has enough strength in their lips to buzz into the mouthpiece.


© 2020 by Summerhays Music Center

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