Trumpet Components

by Colby Stream
The trumpet is usually one of the loudest instruments on the marching band field.

The trumpet is usually one of the loudest instruments on the marching band field.

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The trumpet, a member of the brass family, is several thousand years old; two were found in the tomb of King Tutkankhamun. Unlike many other instruments, it can be played and supported entirely with one hand. But this tiny instrument is anything but simple. It contains seven components, with many of the components duplicated in a couple places on the instrument. The extra hand not playing the instrument can be used to work these components, keeping it playing smoothly.

Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece of a trumpet, like that of all brass instruments, detaches from the rest of the instrument. The mouthpiece connects to the mouthpiece tubing, also called a lead pipe, which in turn connects to the main tuning slide. Although the pitch of a trumpet depends on a number of factors, one way to change the sound is by sliding the mouthpiece farther into or out of the lead pipe.

Valves and Tuning

The trumpet contains three valves -- the buttons you push to change sound and help make notes -- that extend into the valve casings, one per each valve. On either side of the valve casings sits a tuning slide; one is closest to the mouthpiece, and the second is closest to the other side of the instrument. This slide can be pulled out or in to change the tone of the instrument. A third tuning slide sits on the valve casings itself.

Finger Resting Points

Trumpets usually contain two resting points. One, which rests on the tuning slide behind the valve casings, closest to the player, is meant for the thumb of the playing hand. The three fingers of that hand rest on the valves, one for each finger. The other resting place is near the end of the horn, just before the bell, and is used for the pinky of the playing hand.

Bell and Other Keys

The bell is where the sound comes out. It cannot be adjusted, although players sometimes stick a mute inside to muffle the sound and create a different feel for the music. The trumpet also has two water keys on the curves nearest the bell. These do not affect the sound of the instrument but allow the player to drain spittle from inside the horn. Trumpets also have a slide ring on the front tuning slide, and a slide lock in case the player bumps the slide ring.

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