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"Miles Davis" PosterThe trumpet is the highest sounding member of the brass family. The brilliant tone of the trumpet travels through about 2 Metres of tubing bent into an oblong shape. The player presses the three valves in various combinations with the fingers of the right hand to obtain various pitches

The trumpet is made of brass tubing bent into a rough spiral. The bore is, roughly speaking, cylindrical, but more precisely a complex series of tapers, smaller at the mouthpiece receiver and larger just before the flare of the bell begins. Careful design of these tapers is critical to the intonation of the instrument. Sound is produced by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound into the Mouthpiece and starting a standing wave vibration in the air column inside the trumpet. The trumpet player can select the Pitch from a range of overtones or harmonics by changing the lip aperture. There are three Piston valves each of which increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch. The first valve lowers the instrument's pitch by a whole step, second valve by a half step, and third valve by one-and-a-half steps. These valves alone and in combination make the instrument fully chromatic, i.e., able to play all twelve pitches of Western music. The sound is projected outward by the bell.

The Mouthpiece has a circular rim which provides a comfortable environment for the lips' vibration. Directly behind the rim is the cup, which channels the air into a much smaller opening (the backbore or shank) which tapers out slightly to match the diameter of the trumpet's lead pipe. The dimensions of these parts of the mouthpiece affect the timbre or quality of sound, the ease of playability, and player comfort. A wider and deeper cup are often best suited for a fuller, more expansive sound, while shallow-cupped "pea-shooter" mouthpieces can facilitate execution in the extreme high register (e.g. double high c). A larger rim allows for more assured striking of the notes, making it less likely for the player to split the note. A smaller rim improves endurance but decreases flexibility.

Strengthening the embouchure (muscles of the face, sometimes "chops" in common slang). Some commonly accepted ways to do this are:-

  1. Lip slurs: playing exercises that change notes without changing the fingering. This forces all of the work to come from the facial and tongue muscles as well as changes in breathing.

  2. Tonguing exercises: playing exercises that have many notes started with a sharp definition produced by the tongue.

  3. Practicing on the mouthpiece: playing exercises on the mouthpiece only, without the trumpet. Without the resonating chamber of the rest of the instrument, the pitch may vary much more freely. To be able to play something requires development of control. Also, this may reduce the amount of pressure one can apply. This was a favourite exercise of the famous Rafael Mendez.

  4. Playing high: playing in the upper register, at the top of the player's comfortable range. This is an excellent way to increase one's range, as eventually the higher notes will become easier and the player can move on to progressively higher top notes.

  5. Reducing pressure. To play higher notes on the trumpet requires compression of the embouchure (the muscles of the face and lips), as well as air pressure to provide the energy for the vibration of the lips. One way to compress the lips is to press the mouthpiece firmly onto them, however this is counterproductive in the long run and is not an effective way of playing in the upper register. Blood cannot flow into the lips, so they become stiff and swollen, unable to vibrate. Also, the other muscles necessary to play without pressure are not sufficiently developed.

  6. Soft Playing. Another aspect is playing really, really softly. Herbert L. Clarke was the first person to really teach soft playing. In his first exercise in the Clarke Technical Studies, he recommends starting pianissimo and de-crescendoing until you can barely hear it. When you play it really softly, it teaches you how to focus your lip aperture to a fine point so there's just a thread of air coming through.

  7. Lip Buzzing. Lip Buzzing is a helpful exercise which can help build up stamina in the player's lips. Lip Buzzing is simply playing the trumpet without the actual instrument. To achieve this buzz, blow air through pursed lips as one would do when playing the trumpet, keeping the air flow constant. Lip Buzzing is also an excellent pitching exercise as it helps a player to develop a sense of where the note is without the guidance of the valves.


    Sooner or later almost every trumpet player is confronted with embouchure limitations and chop problems. Change of mouthpiece, embouchure change, braces, other teacher, dental problems, playing a different kind of music, having to play more and longer etc. Lack of endurance, jaw/throat/tooth/lip aches, bad tone, split notes, limited range and even focal dystonia. Solutions vary from creative to downright nonsense and as Jeff Smiley calls it 'bag of tricks'. For some of the players it helps to solve their playing problems, but a lot get stuck or get into trouble even deeper. More than once, people stop playing the trumpet because they think they don't have 'what it takes', but maybe the method or the teacher does not 'have what it takes' to make it work for this student.

    Just to be absolutely clear: There is no magical method or quick fix. Developing an efficient embouchure takes time, commitment and a lot of patience. Somebody who claims to have gained an octave and plays the lead chair for six hours on end after a month of method this and that, is lying. Of course, there are always people who can. But for most of us it is very important to choose the right way. It is how you practice and what you practice that counts.

    A little story about myself: when I was in my third year at the conservatory a C on the third line was a difficult note for me. I practiced about three to four hours a day...about practicing the right way.... Eventually I succeeded to get control again and become an outstanding jazz soloist, but my endurance, tone, range and the overall feeling was not really ideal. I had to rely on having 'a good day'. Like many trumpet players I accepted this as a fact of life. Great range and endurance had to be something for people with a lot of power and stamina. I assumed playing high, long and under control was something for the happy few.

    The book 'The Balanced Embouchure' by Jeff Smiley from the United States represented a whole new approach. At this time there are more and more people that support BE, at least as much people that don't believe a word of it. In a lot of trumpet fora around the world, there are heated discussions about this method. Anyway, I ordered it, read it, and after shaking my head in disbelief for about hundred times, I found that there was some logic in this story. I had a last big laugh and started doing these very strange exercises. I can only say that I improved beyond every expectation and I think there is not one book that is so clear about how to develop your embouchure in an efficient and safe way.   Bert Lochs

Ray Butcher (b. Southsea, 1973) started on cornet at age eight influenced by his older brother, also then a cornettist in the Royal Marines. Ray quickly moved up the ranks on the local brass band scene to take the soprano cornet chair at age eleven. He remained faithful to the band run by first teacher Henry Capper until age 16 by which time he was principal cornet. Having been attracted to Louis Armstrong, Ellington and Glenn Miller, he expressed interest in becoming an all round player, having decided long before to become a pro. He studied classical trumpet at the prestigious Peter Symonds' college, Winchester, but became disillusioned with classical music as his next teacher altered his embouchure position.

He could play nowhere near as well as before, so took up piano, where he rapidly progressed. (He got into 'cocktail piano' having listened to Liberace - believe it or not!). At Kingston University he made a living on the side as a cocktail pianist, culminating in some dates at 'Stringfellows' nightclub, where he literally walked in and asked, as was his custom, 'do you need a pianist?' with one of his mates. One thing led to another and he got back into jazz trumpet, starting with a now London sax star Charlotte Glasson (also at Kingston, where Ray used to share classes with Hard Fi's Richard Archer and Andy Gardener of 'U SURE DO' fame (strike). Having left Kingston he practised relentlessly and got into NYJO, and moved on the Holland America line cruise ship 'MS RYNDAM'.

On moving to Birmingham, he took up the trumpet chair in 'King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys' on NYJO leader Bill Ashton's recommendation. Things were short lived and having toured Europe extensively, playing alongside BB King, Afro Cuban all stars, James Carter, etc,. He had a brief period on the ships again, sailing from his home town of Portsmouth, and decided to give up being a pro. After a year off he was back and started playing with local players at the Medicine Bar, where he met Sam Pearce (tenor sax) this led to an association that introduced to Venezuelan piano star Edgar Marcias. He was in good hands. He has gigged around Birmingham ever since. on the local scene has worked with all the big names (including Jean Toussiant, Tony Levin, Julian Siegel and Liam Noble) and most notably has been invited to regularly perform with top pianist Tim Amann and the Xtet.  Ray is a superlative and extremely versatile jazz trumpeter whose influences include such diverse musical legends as Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis.

His generous spirit is reflected in his playing, always connecting well with his audience. Ray Butcher’s brass arrangements are particularly pleasing”.  In 2003 Ray played the trumpet solo at the world premier of “Requiem for Ground Zero”, by Steven Berkoff.  He has recently returned from playing first trumpet in the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem Orchestra. He’s played with R&B singers such as Beverly Knight and Angel Lee.Ray also works extensively with Trio Gitano, including performances at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, where the trio are performing with Ray as a special guest on trumpet. Ray is currently completing a new CD called ”War on the Saints” and featuring musicians Edgar Macías, Chris Bowden, Peter Daly, Mike Green, Miles Levin and Simeon Murray.

Trumpet Topics



Wynton Marsalis

Steve Waterman  is renowned as one of the top British jazz trumpet players both at home and on the international scene, he began his career while studying at Trinity College Of Music, and since then has worked regularly on the British and European jazz scene.

He is professor of Jazz Trumpet at The Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music in London and visiting Jazz Trumpet specialist at The Royal Northern College of Music and The Welsh College of Music & Drama.




Bryan Corbett
Born 1974 In Hereford, England. Brought up in Hereford and Worcester studying at Hereford Sixth Form College and later at L.I.H.E. (Hope University) Liverpool, moving to Birmingham in 1996 to work in the music industry. Now a professional trumpet player.  Other educational experiences and qualification came via London College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, International Music Camp – USA, Music Scholarship- Norway, Rehearsal Orchestra Course - Edinburgh Festival

Randy Brecker

Quentin Collins
Quentin Collins is one of London's most in-demand young jazz musicians already with a wealth of experience- working with the likes of Jean Toussaint, Stan Tracey, Norma Winstone, John Surman, Tim Garland, Tony Kofi and Ray Gelato on the jazz circuit. Also sought after on the pop circuit where he has worked with US3, Jocelyn Brown, Lulu, has for the last 4 years been touring with Omar, and was the brass voice of Basement Jaxx over a five year period.  Album credits include, 4hero - 2 Pages; Basement Jaxx - Rooty + 3 tracks on recent no.1 album "The Singles" + several B side single releases; Mike Garrick - Peter Pan Suite (featured soloist on opening track Peter Pan) + Big Band Harriot; Dylan Howe 5te t- This Is It; Basil Hodge- My Guardian Angel; Antonio Cabrita- Pictures, which was voted jazz album of 2004 in Portugal. QC Trumpet


Carr was born in Dumfries, Scotland, the younger brother of Mike Carr (jazz organist, pianist, and vibist). From 1952 to 1956 he went to King's College, now the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he read English literature, followed by a diploma in education.

Trumpeter, composer, author, educator and broadcaster, Ian Carr is a major force in British Jazz and has been since 1970 one of Europe's leading musicians.
In September 1969 Ian formed his group "Nucleus" which was one of the earliest pioneers of electronic jazz-rock fusion. The early Nucleus albums had a wide seminal influence in Europe, introducing musicians, critics and lay persons to the new music.
Nucleus won first prize at the 1970 Montreux International Jazz Festival and appeared that summer at the USA Newport Festival and the Village Gate, New York. The Band's new music caused something of a sensation on both US occasions. Between the years 1969-89 Nucleus has done radio and TV shows, toured all over the Western and Eastern Europe, Northern India, South America and Mexico, and played at most major International Festivals.
Since 1975 Ian has been a member of the distinguished and immensely successful international band. "The United Jazz Rock Ensemble" which has recorded several of his compositions.
In 1982, Ian received the Calabria (Southern Italy) award for outstanding contribution in the field of jazz. In 1987 he was given Wire Magazine's special award for services to British Jazz. That year Ian played with Michael Gibb's Band at the Bracknell Festival and was feature soloist with the Hamburg Radio Orchestra under Gibb's Direction.
In August 1989 he toured in Britain and Europe as a soloist on electronic trumpet with an Anglo-American orchestra led by the legendary American composer, George Russell. In recent year Ian has become almost as well known as an author. He was a co-author of Jazz: "The Essential Companion" a Jazz Encyclopaedia. "Music Outside", published in 1973 was an acclaimed account of the contemporary British scene. His 1982 book on Miles Davis remains the definitive biography. He has recently finished a biography of Keith Jarrett. Ian was associate Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he gave weekly lectures on jazz history. He also conducted weekly workshops at Interchange in North London.  He was diagnosed as suffering from Alzheimer's disease and passed away in 2009.

Martin Shaw, - Trumpet & Flugel Horn
Martin was born in November 1966 into a family of musicians, both his mother and Father being accomplished pianists.  He began piano lessons at the age of 9 and started studying the trumpet at the age of 11. Four years later Martin became a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and remained there for 3 years, playing a varied program of large orchestral works with some of the worlds leading conductors.
In 1985 Martin gained a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London to study classical trumpet and Jazz graduating after three years with a G.R.S.M hons degree and an L.R.A.M. In 1989 Martin was invited to study at Berklee college of music in Boston, before returning to London to finish his studies at the Guildhall School of Music with a one-year post graduate course in jazz and studio music.
Over the last 12 years Martin has worked with many leading jazz artists including Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Pete King, Dick Morrisey, Tim Garland and numerous big bands including the BBC Big Band, currently led by trombonist Jiggs Whigham. Along with session and T.V. work Martin still finds time to perform with classical ensembles and in West End shows
During the last 12 years Martin has also recorded, performed live and toured extensively with various pop artists including Sting, Jamiroquai, Natalie Cole, Paul Young and the Brand New Heavies.
In 2001, Martin was appointed professor of Jazz Trumpet at the Birmingham Conservatoire, a faculty of the University of Central England. He is currently on tour with French artist Patricia Kaas.

John Hoare (Trumpet & Flugel Horn) has been carving a career in jazz and commercial music both as a trumpet player and as a composer. His trumpet has taken him around the world, working as a sideman for the likes of Jamie Cullum, The Super Furry Animals, Ilya and Shirley Bassey. His own group, "JH4", (formed in 1997) have recorded one album and are currently working towards the second. He is also the recipient of an award for "Outstanding Musicianship" from Berklee College of Music, Boston and a Degree in Music from Oxford Brookes.  John is now working on his Sextet (JH6) which includes:-Barnaby Dickinson - trombone
Ben Castle - saxes and flutes
Ross Stanley - piano
Richard Pryce - bass
Charlie Stratford - Drums

Andy Davies  trumpeter, comes from Gower in South Wales and is a jazz graduate of Trinity College of Music in London where he was a student of Steve Waterman. In 2003 he was awarded a Trinity College of Music Silver Medal for Outstanding Performance in Jazz Studies. While still a student, Andy was the guest trumpet soloist with the singer Ian Shaw and his Trio appearing at Blackheath, Croydon, Grimsby, the 606 club, Brecon Jazz festival and Ronnie Scott’s.  Andy has performed with numerous artists including Gwyneth Herbert and Robin Jones, and is a featured soloist on Iris Festenstien’s CD, ‘One Good Scandal’ (33 Records). He has appeared at all the major venues in London including Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express Dean Street, 606 Club, The Vortex, Pizza on the Park, The Crypt and toured Europe playing in jazz festivals and clubs as a sideman and leading his own quartet. 
He has been described as ‘one of the most sensitive and creative trumpeters to emerge on the British jazz scene in recent years’ whose ‘strength is his ability to marry a first-class technique and marvellously clear tone with elegant, emotive phrasing. His compositional style has been called ‘classy, melodic music with unexpected twists’.

Current Quartet
Andy Davies : trumpet, Lorenzo Bassignani: bass, Ivo Neame:  piano, Reinis Axelsson: drums
Contact Nos
0044(0)7720247689   /   0044(0)7946098005

 Stuart Henderson Stuart began his musical career as an army musician in 1980 at the Household Division Junior Musicians Wing, Pirbright with a further year at the Royal Military School of Music Kneller Hall. Whilst there he won the Frank Wright cornet soloist competition and the Worshipful Company of Musicians Bronze Medal for outstanding instrumentalists. He performed many solos on the bandstand during the summer concert season and was also part of the Kneller Hall fanfare trumpeters that performed at St Paul’s Cathedral, the Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hall.
From 1983 until late 2006 Stuart served as a member of the Band of the Scots Guards and during that time performed at venues the world over, including Columbia Artists tours of the USA and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Germany and Monte Carlo. After just three years with the band he was made principal trumpet, subsequently becoming leader of the fanfare trumpeters and dance band as well as soloist within the band. Whilst with the band Stuart performed at every major state occasion including Trooping of the Colour, the Cenotaph, Festival of Remembrance and seven times at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. In 2002 Stuart was appointed Band Sergeant playing leading roles in both, the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee celebrations. Stuart instigated the founding of the Household Division Big Band and went on to become leader and musical director, leading the band at venues such as the Grosvenor House Hotel and The South Bank. He attained Licentiate of Trinity College London (LTCL).  Moving to Reading, Stuart became a member of Hugh Turner’s quartet with a residency at JW’s in Gun St., also joining the Tim Hills Pandemonium Band and Tongues of Fire. Stuart was also founder member of the Reading based funk band Funk Assembly which went on to appear at Ronnie Scott’s Club and The Jazz Café Camden Town.

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Last modified: 18/02/2012