Buying a musical instrument on EBay can be a great experience
- or not. It is important to stick with brand name instruments. Don't
look for the lowest price - cheap instruments may need so much in repairs
that the cost will offset any preceived savings.
The EBay listings below are limited to recognized, brand
name instruments. Take a look at the current offerings and read the
remainder of this article on choosing an instrument.
Good luck in you search for an affordable, quality musical
Why Play the Trumpet
High, bright, light and clear, the trumpet has a wonderful
sound and is a great instrument for any student entering the world
of music. A soprano horn, it is one of the highest in pitch of all
the brass instruments and is often featured on the melody, which any
instrumentalist, young or old, enjoys playing. Also, the trumpet has
fewer mechanical parts and is more durable than many other instruments.
Young trumpet students can enjoy making music in a number of ensembles
including concert and marching bands, orchestras, jazz bands, brass
quintets, large brass ensembles, rock bands, and solo trumpet with
piano. School music programs will offer many ensembles and performance
opportunities and are a great place to start.
The trumpet has been a prominent instrument throughout
history, heralding kings and queens, calling the cavalry to action,
and even bringing down the walls of Jericho in biblical times. Its
earliest ancestor is perhaps the ancient shofar (ram's horn), which
also dates from biblical times. The most recognizable ancestor of the
modern-day trumpet was the natural trumpet (trumpet without valves),
first used in the Renaissance era. It could only produce a limited
number of notes, but nonetheless thrived as a popular instrument because
of its wonderful sound. Composers such as Bach and Vivaldi wrote extensively
for this instrument. In the mid-1800s piston valves were created which
open and close various lengths of tubing, allowing the trumpet to play
all of the notes in the chromatic scale. The modern trumpet was born.
The trumpet is perhaps the most versatile instrument
in the brass family (which includes French horn, trombone, baritone
horn and tuba), thriving in many styles from jazz and pop to classical
and rock. Trumpet players have often been in the limelight, among them
many jazz, Big Band and classical greats such as Louis Armstrong, Miles
Davis, Doc Severinsen, Maurice Andre and Wynton Marsalis.
The trumpet is often a featured instrument in the orchestra
as shown in Mossourgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Prominent
composers like Haydn and Vivaldi wrote concertos for one and sometimes
two natural trumpets. The jazz and Dixieland idioms have always made
extensive use of the instrument, and groups such as Chicago and Blood
Sweat & Tears have given solo status to the trumpet in rock music.
Whatever the musical style, the trumpet has thrived for centuries.
The Trumpet Family
There are various types of trumpets and related instruments.
The most common is the Bb trumpet which is played in concert bands,
jazz bands, rock bands and most ensembles which involve trumpet. Other
commonly used trumpets include the C trumpet, D trumpet, Eb trumpet,
and piccolo trumpet. These differ from the Bb trumpet in the length
of tubing, which as listed above, progressively get smaller, making
them higher in pitch. They can be heard in orchestras and chamber ensembles,
and are used for solo trumpet works as well. The piccolo trumpet, which
is the smallest horn (a full octave higher than the Bb trumpet), is
most recognizable from the long-standing theme of "Masterpiece
Theater" on PBS. The cornet is very similar to the Bb trumpet
only it has a conical bore instead of a cylindrical bore, making it "darker" in
sound. The fluegel horn has a bigger bell, with a wider flare and tubing
which is wrapped with wider curves, giving it a much mellower sound
than a trumpet. There are also various types of bugles (a conical trumpet
without valves) commonly heard in the military or the Boy Scouts playing "Taps" and "Reveille."
So there are many trumpets and trumpet-related instruments.
However, most students only need to play the Bb trumpet, at least until
high school. At that point, they may want additional trumpets for ensembles
and solo works that demand the use of other instruments.
Buying Your First Trumpet
Most beginning students, when properly instructed, can
produce a sound on the trumpet right away. It will take practice and
a good instrument to help make that sound a desirable one. It is easier
than many instruments as far as manual dexterity is concerned. The
trumpet differs from an instrument such as the piano, where anyone
can play the highest note just by pressing it, because the trumpet
player attains various pitches with the use of air and a proper embouchure
(em-BOW-sher), which is the way in which the lips are formed to produce
a sound. With 30 minutes of practice a day and guidance from a competent
teacher, a student can develop his or her technique, while building
range and endurance, very rapidly. Listening to recordings of great
trumpet players can vastly increase the student's interest while showing
them what the instrument should sound like. Playing recognizable tunes
adds to the fun and enjoyment of learning the trumpet.
Is It Hard to Play?
The staff members of a music store can offer expert assistance
in picking out your first trumpet, and it may also be helpful to have
a more experienced player with you to help you test the instrument
when you shop for your first trumpet. It is recommended that you gather
as much information regarding brand, model and instrument features
as possible. Get opinions and information from your band director,
private trumpet teacher, the sales person at the store, and anyone
else you know to be knowledgeable about the trumpet.
Student, Intermediate, and
Many companies manufacture student, intermediate, and
professional model trumpets. The suggested retail price for student
horns is approximately $700 or more, for intermediate (or "step-up")
trumpets it's $900 or more, and professional model instruments carry
list prices starting around $1500. (Note: These are "manufacturer
suggested retail" or "list" prices. Stores typically
offer an actual retail price that is lower than these figures. Through
Children's Music Workshop, instruments are available at up to 50% off
the retail price.)
Beginner, intermediate, professional _ what's the difference?
In general, student horns play well, but don't have all the features
and craftsmanship found on an intermediate or professional model. Most
student trumpets are made with a two-piece bell as opposed to a one-piece
bell, which affects sound and projection. There are also trumpets with
the so-called "seamless" bell. A seamless bell is two pieces
joined without "filler" material, in effect creating a one-piece
bell with no seam. The valves (pistons) on beginner instruments are
made with slightly looser tolerances than the pro models, so they should
always move freely as long as they are cleaned and maintained properly.
A student model horn will probably satisfy beginners for two or three
years, but if the players excel, by the time they are in high school
they may be ready to move on to a more expensive instrument.
Lacquer vs. Silver
All trumpets are made out of brass but are most commonly
available with lacquer or silver plated exteriors. There are differing
ideas as to which sounds better, but William Vacchiano, the former
principal trumpeter of the New York Philharmonic, put it best when
he said," "Number one, the silver trumpet looks better and,
number two, it doesn't matter!" To sum up, the student should
pick the best-sounding trumpet that plays well in his or her price
New vs. Used
A used trumpet is a valid option to buying a brand new
instrument. Many times an older professional horn may be in reasonable
shape or refurbished by a dealer and priced similarly to a new student
or intermediate model.
Children's Music Workshop students can rent for the school
year for a one time of just $150. CMW takes care of all normal repairs
Caution should always be taken when buying an older instrument,
particularly if you are buying from a private seller (a good music
store will typically perform all necessary repairs prior to putting
a used horn on sale.) Check the trumpet for leaks, dents and corrosion.
Internal corrosion is hard to see, but deadly to performance. It first
appears as a pinkish-red pinpoint on the outside surface of the horn.
Make sure the valves move fast and don't need replating, be sure that
all the slides move easily, and make sure the felts around the valves
and corks on the water keys are in good condition or have been replaced
with new one.
Get a great trumpet at The Instrument Place at
special discount prices.
Picking A Mouthpiece
Beginners generally should start on a mouthpiece with
a fairly small rim and a C cup, which is standard. It is recommended
that students stick with this "standard equipment" until
they achieve a level of playing ability that would warrant experimentation.
Ask the student's band director, private teacher or a knowledgeable
sales person for suggestions as to what size and brand of mouthpiece
What Else Do You Need?
These accessories will help get you started:
- Valve oil - an absolute necessity to keep the valves moving quickly
- A mouthpiece brush and cleaning snake _- to help keep the trumpet
clean and in good working order.
- Method books - whichever are recommended by the student's teachers.
- Music stand - a portable stand is always good to start with.
You can expect to pay between $30 and $50 for these items.
Where Should You Buy a Trumpet?
There are a few options available when purchasing a trumpet:
your local music store, a mail-order service, or private party selling
a second-hand instrument. Each has its benefits, but key things to consider
are price and service.
You can take advantage of Children's Music Workshop discount
The Instrument Place
Proper maintenance and accidents can lead to potential
problems such as slides or valves that get stuck or damaging dents
and dings which can affect more than just the looks of the instrument.
You may want to choose a music store with a repair person on-site or,
if you purchase from a mail-order service, it would be wise to have
a repair shop available to you locally.
Have a Blast!
Having fun is what music is all about. The joy of creating
a bright, bold sound and playing recognizable melodies is a wonderful
experience for any child. With a good instrument and lots of practice,
a student will see himself or herself making strides playing higher,
faster and better. By listening to recordings that feature the trumpet,
a young player can work toward attaining a professional sound and perhaps
play those fancy pieces that inspire them. Go get that first horn and,
on behalf of all trumpet players, Welcome!
Reprinted with permission of School
Band and Orchestra Magazine
Article by Edward Kessel
Please visit them at www.sbomagazine.com
Find Your Instrument Now at The Instrument Place