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TLDR: Is there any way to practice hitting notes on correct pitch on the trumpet ?

I got back into playing the trumpet two months ago after a nine-year break. I'm playing in a concert band (2 in autumn) and while I can play the songs just fine technically, I noticed (and was told) that I really had to work on my pitch (absurdly flat on low register, a tad sharp on high register which is... odd...). I have all the good will in the world to make this better but I don't know how to correct it besides just tuning my instrument and listening to our section while playing. Are there exercises that can be done to help getting correct pitch ?

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2 Answers 2

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Playing reasonably long pitches using a chromatic tuner would help you to "tidy-up" your tuning. You could either use an actual chromatic tuner or an app. Obviously, using a tuner that has a transpose function (such as this one), would be less confusing, as you would be playing the pitches that you actually see on the tuner. However, any chromatic tuner would be fine, and will still help you to play in tune, but you need to mentally transpose "in-your-head" to check exactly which pitches you are playing. For instance, if playing a D on the trumpet, a concert pitch tuner will tell you that you are playing a C. This isn't necessarily a problem though; as long as you are pretty certain you know how to play the pitches on a trumpet (!), you can just use a non-transposing tuner to tell you whether you are in tune or not, and you can ignore the actual pitch on the screen.

Of course, using a tuner will only tell you if you are playing out of tune on any particular note, and by how much. To play in tune, you will need to adjust your embouchure and/or use the trigger. And, certain pitches are inherently more out of tune than others when playing the trumpet. This webpage gives advice about playing in tune, tuning, and also lists pitches that are inherently sharp or flat.

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If the upper register is consistently sharp and the lower register flat, there is a chance (however small) that you have a mouthpiece that is ill matched to the trumpet. Have an experienced trumpet player try your trumpet and mouthpiece together. If you have a mismatch problem, your setup will exhibit the same intonation problem to a different player. If it plays in tune for the other player, the problem is indeed with yourself. In that case, see Bob Broadley's excellent advice.

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