Trumpet/Low range troubles


I am an intermediate trumpet player and am about to enter college as a music major. I am comfortable with my playing and have been working on efficiency. One thing I am not comfortable with is my lower range. Even though I try to keep a consistent embouchure with minimal movement, I have trouble sounding low Bb - F#. The notes come out with unclear clarity. Do you have any ideas of a bad habit I might have of an exercise I should try?


Absolutely fantastic question. Well done.

Now, my answer may not be as exciting as your question but I'll do my best to help you.

First and foremost, most trumpet parts for people your level will rarely go that low. That's the good news. HOWEVER...low range proficiency leads to higher range proficiency. What's that you say? Yep. It's true. You may already know that and I'm just echoing in your brain...that's fine.

To work on your "issue" (which is great that you notice it), I will recommend Allen Vizzutti's first book he did. The exercises he puts together run the range of the horn pretty well. Why Allen? Well, he incorporates many of the "masters" but he's a little more of a modern trumpet player. There are some OK exercises in Arban's too, but Allen takes the time in his books to explain what you're working on and why.

Now, if you don't want to go buy his books, I can tell you that the number one issue is that you may be focusing too much on keeping the embouchure for upper note playing and what you're getting is a result of that. Do you notice singers much? They have that "place" in their voices that you can hear sometimes that takes them into a higher octave or longer range. They have to change their approach to get the sound they want. They can't sing the same way and expect the same result throughout the ranges so they adjust from chest voice to head voice or whatever. Trumpet playing is the same way. The biggest difference is that you want to adjust as little as possible so you can run the ranges effortlessly and with very little notice. The best singers do the same thing. Great vocalists like Christina Aguilera do it amazingly. Celine Dion. Michael Sweet. That was a focus for much of their training and now they got it down pat. You can develop that too but until you know what producing that tone feels like you have no place to start. I'm sure in the upper register you get to a point and you have to change something to make the notes speak. Guess what...low range is the same. The point of low register exercises is to be able to relax the embouchure a little and get the muscles some blood flow without taking the face off the horn.

For a short time, work on getting the note out in a big fat sound. Forget the embouchure thing for a minute and concentrate on a good tone and good breath support. Then work your way down to uncomfortable to notes. Work on getting some pedal tones out (below F#...yes, there are many notes you can go down just as you can up). In fact, as I stated earlier...your upper register is in direct correlation to your ability to play low. So, go get your tuner or some reference point and go for it. If you get the Vizzutti book, be sure it's the one that does the lower range stuff to increase your range distance.

I hope this gets you started and enjoy.


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Gene Ramsay


PLEASE read my instructions to you as a questioner about horns and value, etc. Most of those answers can be found at

I feel confident to answer all questions regarding trumpet and brass performing, practice techniques, and equipment inquiries. We never stop being "students" in music as we strive to grow technically and musically over our lifetime. Music is something that truly individualizes people and I would treat every question based on the individual asking the question.


I have been performing on trumpet for over 30 years. I have taught privately for over 20 years and in the public schools for 5 years. I have taught and performed in drum and bugle corps, bands, ensembles, and solo.

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Bachelor's Degree from the University of Montevallo in Music Education.
Over 20 years of private instruction (various individuals).
5 years of instructing and performing in drum and bugle corps.

Awards and Honors
Alabama Assistant State Director for Bugles Across America - 2009-2010
Alabama State Director for Bugles Across America - 2010-Present
University of Montevallo Student MENC President - 1991-1992
Principal Trumpet - University of Montevallo - 1990-1992
Nuncie Leberte Music Scholarship - 1987-1988

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Vestavia Hills High School
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Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps
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