How to Learn Fingerings of a Trumpet

How to Learn Fingerings of a Trumpet thumbnail
A trumpet produces all notes by a combination of pressing three valves.

Even though the trumpet has only three valves, it can produce tones in a range of over three octaves. Pressing different combinations of valves lengthens the tube's playable length and alters the pitch of the note. If you want to learn to play fast scales and solos on the trumpet, you need to learn trumpet fingerings well enough to do them without having to think about them. Practicing a few common scales will teach you the fingerings for most notes you will encounter.

Things You'll Need

  • Trumpet fingering chart
  • Sheet music
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Instructions

    • 1

      Play the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. It starts with C below the staff and goes to third-space C. The fingering for this scale is 0, 13,12, 1, 0, 12, 2, 0. Notice that C and G use open fingering; this is true no matter what octave you play. In addition, B uses a fingering of 2, A and low E use 12, and F uses 1, no matter what the octave. If you can't reach the upper three notes, drop to the lower octave and play them. Play up and down the scale five times to ingrain the fingerings in your memory.

    • 2

      Play the F major scale: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F. In musical notation, "b" means to lower the note a half step and "#" means to raise it a half step. The F scale uses a new note and new fingering; the scale fingering sequence is 1, 0, 12, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1. The low D is the only one that has a fingering of 13; all higher D notes have a fingering of 1. In addition, Bb's fingering is 1 and high E's fingering is 0. Split the octave if necessary; it will give you more practice with the lower notes. Continue practicing this scale until you know the fingerings without having to think.

    • 3

      Play the D major scale, which incorporates two more fingerings: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C# and D. The fingering is 13, 12, 2, 0, 12, 2, 12, 1. F# always uses a fingering of 2, and C# always uses 12 except for the low C#, which is 123. Practice the scale as necessary.

    • 4

      Play the C chromatic scale: C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, Bb, B, C. The chromatic scale incorporates all possible fingerings and all twelve tones in the octave by going up a half step from the note prior. The only two new notes on the chromatic scale are Eb and G#, both of which use 23 fingering. Therefore, the fingering sequence is 0, 123, 13, 23, 12, 1, 2, 0, 23, 12, 1, 2, 0.

    • 5

      Consult your fingering chart for any new notes you need to learn. Some notes have alternate fingerings, such as A. You can finger A as 12 or 3.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't attempt to play too high; you could damage your embouchure.

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References

  • Photo Credit Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

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