I am a total novice. I'm thinking about getting a trumpet so I can practise at home for fun and I want to find out how to play.

I am curious to know what notes you can play on the trumpet. I am not sure how to find any results on the internet.


2 Answers 2


Since this question is in reference to beginning trumpet, here are some rules of thumb based on music written for a standard B♭ trumpet.

Range of notes available

The trumpet is designed to play the notes of the standard Western chromatic scale. A loose description of the notes available as one progresses:

First notes learned: The very first lessons on trumpet typically operate in a range of C4 to G4, perhaps with a note or two higher and lower.

Beginning: Overall, a good working range for a beginning-level trumpet player is F#3 to C5, with some expectation that the low and high ends may engender difficultly.

Intermediate: A great deal of music becomes available when the working range extends to G5 (so F#3 to G5). Again, the uppermost part of the range might be strained for some players.

Advanced amateur: To play in school (upper level), community, or semi-pro ensembles, a strong working range from F#3 to C6 would be expected and allow for success in most music encountered. "High C" (C6) is enough to allow for a satisfying amateur or even semi-pro "career".

Pro: Here, the higher one can play, the better. A range up to F6 or G6 would not be surprising, and true "lead trumpet" players — high range specialists — can typically play at least to C7.

Personal experience: My own range tops out at D6, though I can put out the occasional E6 under ideal circumstances. This has never limited my playing opportunities, with the exception of professional lead trumpet roles.

Extending the possible notes

There are two categories of ways to extend the range of a trumpet: pedal tones, which extend the lower range; and techniques that allow for tones "in between" those of the chromatic scale (a.k.a. "microtones").

Pedal tones: By relaxing the embouchure, it's possible to produce pitches below the designed range of the trumpet. A well-developed ability can achieve pitches down to C3. These are often practiced as a way to develop ones higher register, because they require both great breath support and embouchure control. They also offer an effective "cool-down" from accumulated fatigue.

Microtones: There are three ways to achieve "in between" pitches, all of which can achieve a variety of pitches, but often at the expense of tone quality.

  1. "Lipping" the pitch up or down: By slight tightening or loosening of the embouchure, a pitch can be drawn higher or lower, respectively. Higher tends to be difficult and more limited an adjustment, while "lipping down" can be quite dramatic.
  2. Half valving: By depressing one or more valves only partially, allowing enough to allow air to pass through to create a tone, but not enough to fully tune a particular pitch, one can produce "in between" notes. This technique is most commonly used to create sliding effects, moving smoothly from one pitch up or down to another.
  3. Tuning slides: The third valve tuning slide is near always made to be adjusted while playing, and the first valve slide often also has this feature. This means that notes using one or both of those valves can be adjusted to some degree. The main tuning slide can also be used in a similar way, though it doesn't usually slide as freely because it would risk the trumpet easily going out of tune or even the slide falling out altogether while playing.

Types of trumpets

Trumpet parts are always written with F#3 as the lowest pitch; however, the actual sounding pitch is different, depending on the type of instrument. For example, the written F#3 on a Bb trumpet actually produces E3; whereas, the same written F#3 on a G trumpet actually produces C#4. The piccolo trumpet sounds roughly one octave higher, depending on the specific instrument. The bass trumpet sounds roughly one octave lower.


What Notes does Trumpet play?

"All of them"... at least in the sense that, like almost all tonal instruments, a trumpet can play all seven pitches of a diatonic scale and all of their accidentals (sharps and flats.) Most tonal instruments can play pitches over many octaves; the playable distance from the lowest to the highest pitch is known as an instrument's range.

There are different types of trumpets, each with a different range. The most common trumpet being the Bb trumpet... According to the wiki:

The standard trumpet range extends from the written F♯ immediately below Middle C up to about three octaves higher (F♯3 – F♯6). Traditional trumpet repertoire rarely calls for notes beyond this range, and the fingering tables of most method books peak at the high C, two octaves above middle C

It can reach higher notes still but, playing in the trumpet's extreme upper register is quite difficult and not for beginners.

Also, be advised that some trumpets are transposing instruments, meaning written notation does not correspond to the sounding note produced by the instrument.

Finally, it is advisable that you take some kind of formal training... even if it is just a few lessons to get you started. While self-learning is in no way impossible, it can be a bit difficult (especially if you are starting from absolute square one.)

  • The wiki page overstates the upper range, I don't think F#6 could be considered to belong to the "standard range". Nearly all players struggle to play reliably at that altitude. Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 13:51

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