What do you put on the end of a trumpet? Easy. A mute. Mutes are called for during different parts of music scores by the arranger when they want to change the timbre (tone quality) and/or lower the volume. They soften the brightness of the trumpet and some mutes warm the sound. Funny thing, mutes are named for their shape and not how they sound.
What the heck is a “Water Key”? I’m pretty sure that’s not plain water that’s coming out. “Spit Valve” makes more sense, but it’s not a valve. What gives? What are all these parts and why are they important to the sound? Trumpets, Flugelhorns, and Cornets have a surprising number of parts. Would you like to know all their names to amaze your friends and bore your not-so-friends? Here is the anatomy of a trumpet for your dissection fun.
As a kid, I remember watching the TV show “The Green Hornet” and the wailing, fast hitting trumpet sound of the theme song. I had no idea what a trumpet was or who Al Hirt was back then. I remember that trumpet song though. Fast forward a few years and I’m sitting in the admissions office with my mom for my new school, entering the 5th grade. I knew I wanted to join band. I had every intention of playing the drums, for some reason I thought they were cool. When they asked me, “What instrument do you want to play?” I said “Trumpet”. It just came out. And so, began my journey of discovery of this great instrument, lifelong bandmates, and the fascination with famous trumpet players.
It’s just oil right? Can’t I just use any oil around the house? What’s important to know before squirting oil into my horn? Trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn valves and inside the brass metal tubes of your the valve casing. Valve oil makes the playability of your horn better and is there to protect the valves and valve casing from wear. The piston valves and valve casings are made of pretty soft metals. Keeping a thin layer of valve oil between them will keep them from wearing and your valves slippery smooth.
All I need is my trumpet, and my mouthpiece, and my mute, and my….wait. Why do I need all this stuff? Am I going to spend a fortune on stuff I don’t need? Every trumpet player will need a few things to support their playing. Yes, a place to practice where you aren’t disturbing people is great. More important, is keeping your horn performing it’s best and accessories that help you perform your best.