Trumpet/Trumpet Performance


QUESTION: Having problems with an airy tone.  I've checked the embouchure, made sure the student was supporting properly, closed off the sinuses and even checked the horn for leaks.  I have him doing daily long tones and lip slurs and has been doing these for the last 2-3 months.  In your opinion, what else might I try...I'm out of ideas.


Been there my friend. I need to know a few things:

1-how long have they been playing?
2-type of horn?
3-mouthpiece size?
4-general embouchure evaluation?
5-is this consistent or only in certain registers?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hey Gene, I won't see him until next week - but let me give you what I know now:

- Played for 3 years (just completed the 8th grade, heading to HS)
- Have to check on the horn make/model.
- Bach 5C
- Embouchure is balanced 1/2 and 1/2.  No undue pressure noted on lips.
- Fairly consistent throughout the range of the horn

Been doing this a few years myself, but this one has me stymied!  Only thing I can guess at this point is that maybe he's hedging on his daily warmups and not really doing them as I request.  Just not seeing the improvement...but I want to be sure every other base is covered before I accuse him of slacking!

Thanks much!

- RH


The only red flag I saw MIGHT be the 5C. Can I assume he had developed this tonal sound or did he come to you with it?

The 5C may be too small for his embouchure. Try out some mouthpieces next go around and see if a larger rim abs cup size gets the seal we want.

After that, it's a work in progress. Airy tones like that would only pop up in my playing after really long times of not playing. It sounds like he's working at least a little.

I'm here if you need me.

Last sure HE can hear it. It does no good if you're working on it in lessons and can't hear it himself. Just a quick reminder.  


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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.

Bugles Across America
International Trumpet Guild
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Drum Corps World

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

Past/Present Clients
Vestavia Hills High School
University of Montevallo
Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps
CorpsVets Drum and Bugle Corps

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