A trumpet is one of the most popular bass instruments. In recent years, the trombone has also gained a lot of popularity. Thus, there has been significant interest and demand for trombone players. This is because trombonists have become a significant part of most bands. Therefore, a lot of trumpet players have been exploring the possibility of playing the trombone.
In fact, the ability to double on brass instruments has become a craze among brass players. For this reason, one of the questions on the minds of most trumpeters is, “Can trumpet players play the trombone?”. After much research and conversations with trumpet and trombone players, here is everything I learned.
Trumpet players cannot play the trombone unless they take trombone lessons and practice. That is because how embouchure is formed and how a pitch is changed on the trumpet is different from that of the trombone. So trumpet players will have to practice and take trombone lessons to be able to play the trombone
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Similarities between Trumpet and Trombone
The trumpet and the trombone are both brass instruments. And because they are of the same family, there are certainly some similarities between them.
The first and most obvious similarity between a trumpet and a trombone is that both instruments come with a mouthpiece that can be fixed and removed in the same manner. The basic principle behind their operation is the same as well.
They both require that instrumentalists blow air into them by placing their lips on the mouthpiece. When the air is blown, the vibrations it creates are amplified as it passes through the instrument. This is ultimately transformed into a pitched sound.
Also, you need to buzz your lips to change the partials in both instruments. Partials refer to the notes which a particular tube can play. They are both capable of playing all the 12 chromatic scales in different octaves as well.
Differences between Trumpet and Trombone
And although trumpet and trombone are similar in many regards, they are quite a lot of differences between the two that ultimately sets them apart. Let’s take a look at them.
If you already play a brass instrument, then you probably know what embouchure is. But for those who don’t, embouchure refers to how the lips, teeth, and tongue are used while playing a brass instrument.
It’s an essential skill to master if you play the trumpet or the trombone. That’s because it directly affects the tone you get out of your instrument.
The embouchure for playing the trumpet is different from that of the trombone. The tone concept accounts for the difference between trumpet embouchures and that of the trombone.
The embouchure you form when playing the trumpet has to be more focused than that of the trombone. A trumpet’s embouchure needs to be incorporated with greater control and balance. This is because trumpets have a smaller cup and rim. Thus, it demands that you find the right balance between air and chop.
Trombones have a relatively larger cup and rim than trumpets. Due to this, the embouchure you form when playing the trombone does not need to be as tight as that of a trumpet.
Mechanism For Changing Pitch
Trumpets come with keys or valves. These keys are pushed using the fingertips in order to change pitches. In order to play the trumpet, the instrument is usually gripped around the valves with the left hand. The fingers of the right hand are then used to manipulate the valves.
Trombones are built to have a slide instead of valves. This slide is used to change pitches. To play the trombone, the instrument must be held steady with the left hand while the right hand holds and adjusts the slide.
Something you should know is that there are few trombone variations available that come with valves, just as the trumpet, that allow you to change pitch using your fingers. But these are not your standard trombones, and they are not as common.
With proper care and maintenance, the trumpet and the trombone can last for a long time. The case you store them in also enhances their durability. However, trumpets are more durable than trombones.
The slightest bend or dent on the slide of a trombone can render the instrument unplayable. This is not the case for trumpets. Also, trumpets require less care and maintenance as compared to trombones.
To properly maintain a trombone, you need to oil the slides regularly. Also, trombones must be wiped down after each use.
Is It Easy to Switch from Trumpet to Trombone?
It’s possible to switch from trumpet to trombone but not easy. To be able to play the trombone as a trumpet player requires you to learn new techniques such as how to change the pitch on the trombone, trombone embouchure, and more. And that’s because these techniques are completely different from that of a trumpet.
Switching from a smaller instrument like the trumpet to a large instrument like the trombone requires a little bit of effort on your part. In the beginning, transitioning from a trumpet to a trombone can be very difficult. Here are a few reasons why.
Firstly, changing pitches on both instruments are totally different. As we’ve already talked about, the trumpet makes use of three keys or valves for changing. On the other hand, the trombone uses a slide to change pitches.
In addition to this, the mouthpiece of trombones is bigger and roomy than that of trumpets. Thus, you need to learn how to relax the embouchure formation and how to move air better.
Thirdly, for those who read sheet music, the trumpet is notated in treble clef. On the other hand, the trombone is mostly written in bass clef. However, the trombone is written in tenor or alto clef in some instances. This can make it quite challenging for trumpet players to read and play sheet music made for the trombone.
Finally, trombones are relatively heavier than trumpets. This makes it cumbersome to play in the early stages.
All of these reasons contribute to why it’s not easy switching from trumpet to trombone. They are two completely different instruments when it comes to how they are played.
However, this shouldn’t deter you from picking up the trombone if you’re a trumpet player. As long as you are dedicated to learning, you should be able to transition from playing trumpet to trombone with a lot of practice, time, and effort.
Can a Trombone Player Play Trumpet?
A trombone player can play the trumpet. However, it won’t sound as musical as someone who has had enough practice and lessons on trumpets. It is very easy for a trombone player to pick up on playing the trumpet.
Unfortunately, without some form of trumpet-specific lessons and practice, a trombone player will not be able to play the trumpet quite well. This is because switching from playing the trombone to playing the trumpet requires that you learn how to focus your air properly, particularly for the upper registers.
Playing the trombone helps you build good embouchure strength. This helps you transition easier when you want to play the trumpet. Also, trumpets are less cumbersome than trombones. The valves on trumpets are quite easy to learn as well. Therefore, playing the trumpet will come easy to a trombone player.
However, without dedicating time to learn and practice the trumpet, a trombonist cannot play the trumpet effectively.
Which is Harder: Trumpet or Trombone?
Trombones are larger than trumpets. Due to their large size, trombones are not popular among small children and beginners as a whole. This is because they are not easy to play like the trumpet is.
A trombone is large and bulky. Its bulky nature makes it harder for many to play them than the trumpet. The slide, which is used to play the trombone, also poses a significant challenge to beginners. It makes it difficult for beginners to play the trombone.
This is because a trombone’s slide has no visual marker which indicates the slide positions. Thus, the only way trombone players can generate a pitch using the slide is by using their ears to accurately set the slide positions. This means that a trombone player needs to develop good ears early as they learn the instrument. This can be quite difficult to do as a beginner.
On the other hand, a trumpet is more beginner-friendly. This can be attributed to its small size. The small trumpet size makes it easier to hold and play. As I mentioned earlier, a trumpet has valves. These valves are used for changing pitches. A trumpet’s valve is more simplistic to learn and implement than a trombone’s slide.
Additionally, trumpets are quite portable. Thus you can easily carry them along for practice and lessons.
Without the necessary lessons and practice, a trumpet player cannot play the trombone efficiently. When you decide to practice playing a secondary brass instrument, you need to dedicate time to the individual techniques you have to work on.
When you do this, you will be able to properly monitor your playing output. This will save you from picking up the wrong things. Thus, having private instruction when transitioning to playing the trombone will highlight any bad habits you are picking up.