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4 Tips for teaching young trumpet students

It's common for trumpet players to get started when they are around ten or eleven years old, simply because that is the year that they join the band program in public schools.

But what if a student starts earlier than that, at the age of 5, 6, or 7?

In my opinion, there is no reason to wait, but there are some things to keep in mind to make it a good experience for your young students.

The best part about teaching young students: They're excited and ready to


Younger kids are curious and enthusiastic learners. If playing the trumpet was their idea, teaching them will be a breeze because they will be eager to learn.

Here are my 4 tips

Tip #1: The biggest potential challenge is that younger students have smaller bodies and they may struggle to hold the weight of the trumpet. As an adult, I know that you can actually injure your wrists, shoulders, neck and other body parts by holding the trumpet for too long, with bad posture or with too much tension. As the teacher, make sure that the student is safe and avoids overuse injuries. Make sure the learning space is comfortable and put the horn down often. They don't need to hold it the entire time. Have a stand or place to put it down.

Tip #2: Alternate between physical and mental activities. All beginner trumpet students struggle with physical issues like hitting notes, buzzing, slurring and tonguing. That's normal and to be expected. You will find that they will make a lot of rapid progress when you focus on the physical skill for a minute or two, provide positive reinforcement and praise and model what you want them to do, and then move on to a different activity for five or ten minutes. For example, you can work on a lip slur and they make an attempt or two and then spend five or ten minutes going over a reading concept or learn a song using solfege hand signs. Circle back later after their muscles have had a break.

Tip #3: Keep things positive. Use a lot of positive reinforcement and praise. When they are not getting something right, give them kudos for trying and making an attempt. Your attitude will influence how they feel about themselves when they try new and difficult things, so be their biggest cheerleader.

Tip #4: Show them connections. If there is a piano or keyboard nearby, use it in the lessons and talk about how the notes on the piano are a whole step away from the notes on the trumpet. Show them how to use a metronome and a tuner early on. Bring other instruments to the lesson. Play by ear. Encourage them to write their own music. Introduce music theory concepts even if they seem complicated, because you will be surprised at how much they can grasp.

Any child can build a strong foundation for a musical life simply by trying new things and taking part in activities like playing the trumpet. Learning to play music is as valuable as learning to read, so why not start at a young age?

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