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I mean, there are people who can't sing melodies correctly but they are able to play the guitar perfectly. Will such person be able to play the trumpet? When you hit the note on the trumpet do you have to worry about the correctness of the note or trumpet does it for you? I play the guitar, I even sing sometimes but I'm worried, will my musical hearing be good enough for the trumpet? Hope I made myself clear.

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I will hold the specifics as I never played the trumpet. But your ear is as everything else: it improves with training. – Édouard Jul 26 '14 at 12:58
Having a good musical hearing does not imply that you can sing melodies correctly (though it does imply that you notice it yourself when you're off). – leftaroundabout Jul 26 '14 at 13:12
Yes, I agree. I should've been more concrete. I wanted to ask this: is the particular skill of singing the melody correctly necessary to be able to play the trumpet? – musicinmusic Jul 26 '14 at 13:18
I can't sing to save my life, but I was pretty good at playing the baritone, another brass instrument with similar technique to the trombone. – Kevin Jul 26 '14 at 15:48

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Trumpet - sort of. Trombone - absolutely not.

The reason is that with a trumpet you have 8 possible fingerings, and for each there is a limited number of tones from which to choose by lip pressure. As a beginner you will only need the lower tones, which are spaced so far apart that it's extremely hard to hit the wrong one without noticing. Only getting a clean intonation might be tricky for you because it involves having precisely the right amount of lip pressure to get the intended result - so you have to hear whether the intonation is right. (I don't think this is a big issue with the guitar once it has been tuned.)

With the trombone, instead of fingering you'd have to find exactly the right spot on a continuous scale. That's harder than hitting the right tone when singing. Of course if you have a musical ear and there is merely something wrong with your vocal cords, then this is not an issue either. (In that case the comb, the kazoo and the didgeridoo are the only instruments I can think of right now that would be problematic.)

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Thank you for answering my question and for the interesting info about the other instruments. You seem to know a lot about brass instruments, could you take a look at another question in this forum about the Holton T602R trumpet mouthpiece? (What kind (size) of mouthpiece should I buy for Holton T602R trumpet?) – musicinmusic Jul 26 '14 at 20:48
No, sorry, it's a long time since I tried to learn the trumpet and the trombone, and I don't even own either any more. (I do own a cornetto. That's essentially a wooden flute with a trumpet-like mouthpiece. But it's harder to play than a trumpet, so I can't recommend it to a beginner.) – Hans Adler Jul 26 '14 at 20:52
@musicinmusic, if you have another question, please post it as a question, and not in the comments section. – Jolta Sep 24 '14 at 21:48
Lip pressure should NOT be used to adjust pitch on a trumpet, it is a function of lip/facial muscle tension and airspeed. – Darren Ringer Dec 31 '14 at 1:33
@Darren Ringer: Sorry if I used the wrong terminology because I am not familiar with how this is usually expressed. I actually meant the pressure inside the lips, not the pressure of the lips against the mouthpiece. Maybe lip pressure is a 'false friend' in translating from German. – Hans Adler Jan 2 at 11:40

It helps a lot, and indeed, the trumpet is much more difficult than the guitar if you have no perfect hearing. The issue is that your breathing technique affects the note that you're playing, and if you breathe incorrectly, the outcome will also be incorrect. If you are not able to hear where you go wrong, it's difficult to play perfectly.

Regardless, I think you should give it a try. I know somebody who has played the trumpet for years. His "musical ear" is quite bad, and although he's not a professional (quite far from it), whatever he plays is always pleasing to the ear. Part of that is because he took lessons. Teachers can teach you what exactly to pay attention to, so that you can tell whether you're playing correctly without requiring a sense of absolute pitch. I can not give you any specific tips because I do not play the trumpet myself, but I know that these techniques & tricks exist.

Lastly, as @Édouard said: the ear can be trained. If you play music a lot, your musical hearing will improve significantly.

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Singing specifically is not necessary. I can't sing at all, but I played trumpet for many years - only as an amateur, but I was certainly good enough at it to hit the right notes. :-)

However, you do need a decent ear for pitch, enough to hear when you're playing the wrong note. Any given finger position on the trumpet will let you play many different notes, a whole harmonic series in fact. The way you control which note of the series comes out is by adjusting your lip pressure and position and the intensity of your breath. With practice, you can get a feel for what you need to do with your mouth to play a given note; however, before you develop that intuition, you will need to hear what note you're playing and be able to compare it to the desired pitch so that you can adjust up or down as needed. And even after you know how to position your mouth for each note, you still play more accurately when you can hear and correct for when you're playing too high or low.

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Perfect, thanks. Since you've been playing the trumpet for years you should know this. I have submitted another question on this site about the mouthpiece. I purchased a Holton T602R trumpet without the mouthpiece. I'm looking for a mouthpiece that will fit this trumpet. What I need is the cheapest solution. So, what characteristics does a mouthpiece have to have to fit Holton T602R trumpet? – musicinmusic Jul 26 '14 at 23:09
I actually have not played much recently, and as I said I was only an amateur, so I don't know offhand. That being said, the size of a trumpet mouthpiece describes the end you blow into (the cup). The end that goes into the instrument is a standard size, as far as I know, and if that's the case any normal Bb trumpet mouthpiece you find will fit. A Google search yields this example (that is size 7C). – David Z Jul 26 '14 at 23:18

I have owned a Holton T602 trumpet. I bought it new 20 years ago or so. Very nice sounding trumpet although it needed more frequent cleaning than other brands I played. It originally came with a "Frank Holton 7C" mouthpiece but I have been using all sorts of trumpet mouthpieces on it with no problem. The only thing it wasn't very fond of is very big mouthpieces like Bach 1C and bigger, wich would make the tuning too low. After trying out many many mouthpieces I settled on a Bach 10.5C wich is considered quite small by modern standards (not by older standards), but perfect for me, even though I am a tall guy. No idea about you, mouthpieces are like shoes, they have to fit. For some reason, the general consensus is that bigger(lower number) is better, based on a 1920ties recommendation from Vincent Bach that everyone keeps repeating, but I don't agree with that. I'm sounding better than ever on this small piece and it's less straining also.

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Welcome to Music StackExchange! Could you edit your answer to tie it in to how a different mouthpiece might help or hinder a beginner trying to find notes? As it stands, you've got a lot of information, but it's hard to see how it answers the question. – Karen Dec 30 '14 at 15:13

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