I see a lot of people googling the exact phrase"Trumpet how to get rid of airy sound?and since this is something i needed to fix in my own trumpet playing i thought i would try to help the internet by sharing my tips to solve this problem.
(Below is a trumpet exercise you can use to correct and clean up sound quality, but be sure to read everything on the page as it's important that you understand the principles behind the tips.)
What do we mean by "airy trumpet sound"?
An airy trumpet sound is like when we sometimes have a hoarse voice when we have a cold. We try to speak, but instead of a clear sound coming from the vocal cords, we hear a voice at a lower volume, and air is also heard in the sound. Well, that happens, believe it or not, in the trumpet too...
...and the trumpet has nothing to do with a cold.
A breathy sound on your trumpet is a fairly common problem and should be fairly easy to fix, so if you experience it...
…do not worry!
Why does my trumpet sound "spongy" and what causes this airy trumpet sound?
This airy sound that we hear in the tone is because not all of the air is converted into vibrations. Part of the air flows through the opening of the mouth (the embouchure opening) without vibrating the soft lips and therefore we can hear this fuzzy/airy sound coming out of the trumpet bell.
It can be incredibly annoying, right?
If that happens, it means we're not playing efficiently!
Unless all the air we blow through the mouthpiece orifice is converted into vibrations, it's as if not all the gasoline used in our car burns up and just goes out the exhaust, with no energy or power to the deliver engine. ...
...if so, we need to make the engine run more efficiently.
What can cause us to play in this "inefficient way"?
There are several bad things we can do to make ourselves play so that the air escapes without turning into vibration and noise.
Here are the most common:
- Have tight lips or a cluttered roots
- Playing with too large an opening at the beginning
- The "ear-mind-body connection" is out of tune and needs to be adjusted
- wrong device size
How do we get into this problem?
Personally, I can say that playing a lot of loud notes with too little, or not practicing the soft notes enough, is the quickest route to an airy trumpet sound for me. Another way to get into this problem is to practice or play too much without getting enough rest.
If we played loud or had an intense training session, we have to make sure that we do some kind of 'warm-up' at the end of our day of play. If we skip this part, we might find ourselves with the demon of airborne sound. Not good!
The first warning sign is that we're having trouble getting notes to "talk" exactly when we want them to...
...meaning they are a little "delayed" and the attack doesn't come exactly when we want it to and the onset of the note is a bit late (at first only air comes out before the note arrives). If this happens to you in the future, take it as a warning sign that if you don't fix it, you'll soon get a more airy sound.
Another way to get into this problem is to constantly switch and try out different trumpets, mouthpieces, or even play the trombone, for example. This can confuse the "ear-mind-body" connection and cause us to lose "fine motor control" of the approach.
Of course it's okay to try different devices and even play different trumpets and instruments, I'm not saying that's not the case. What I'm saying is that it takes a bit of time to learn how to master the transition from one side to the other without confusing the approach and the playing apparatus.
Are you playing with a mouthpiece that is too big?
Another thing I want to invite you about is the size of your trumpet mouthpiece. If you're playing with a shell that's too deep for you, or with a rim size that's too large in diameter, you may set yourself up for a sound that isn't clean and clear.
If you have problems with attacks (beginning of notes) or if you have big stamina problems (tire quickly and run out of shots) then I'd try a smaller size if I were you. If you are interested you can read a bit more about it on my siteSound Enhancement Articleson the trumpet...
…at the end of this article I also write a bit about how different mouthpiece sizes affect the sound and how a mouthpiece that is too big can cause the tone to “spread out” and sound muddled.
Finally, this is how you fix it
So what is the solution, how do you get rid of the airy sound on the trumpet?
If we already have this problem, we have to follow some steps to get back to normal and fix the problem. Make sure you do the following and don't skip any of them:
- Lip slapping with very loose lips for 2-3 minutes several times a day and always before beginning the exercise (just let your lips part like a horse's lips and don't hum it).
- Do LOTS of soft play. In fact, it's best to play softly on a mezzo piano at pianissimo level if you're having trouble with an airy sound. Let your fortissimo play until your sound is clear and "healthy" again.
- Take frequent breaks during your exercise session. (Pause as much as you play or even a little MORE than you play. Example: play 40 seconds, rest 60 seconds)
- At the end of each training day, always do a “warm up” with an easy game. The last two notes you play on your practice day MUST be played softly and at a low volume.
Ok, but WHY should I do all this?
- The fluttering lip
Lip slapping is important for relaxing stiff muscles and getting blood flow going. At least 80% of the time we have problems with air in the sound of our trumpet, we also have stiff lips...
... so don't skip the flapping. Depending on how stiff you are, this can help you get rid of your stiffness in just a few days, sometimes even a single day... or even a few hours.
- the soft tones
They are perhaps the most important of all clues. You have to practice easy play for the approach to work efficiently, that is, it turns all the air into vibrations. If all the air passing through the embouchure opening causes the lips to vibrate, no "extra" air is being let out and therefore... no more airy sound.
- rest as much as you play
Most trumpet players get very little rest and often end up with all sorts of playing problems, airy trumpet sound being one of them. I highly recommend that you get into the habit of playing solo for about 40-60 seconds and then singing the following phrase before playing it on the trumpet...
...this way you ensure sufficient rest and thus avoid overloading your attachment muscles and also improve your hearing.
- always warm up
There's this “macho mentality” in the trumpet world where many like to say things like “I just need a cold beer to cool me down” or “when I'm tired I rest”, well, for some trumpet players. this could work well, but we're all different and if you get stiff easily and develop an airy sound easily, then guess what...
...that's right, you really should do a warm-up/cool-down last in your exercise routine. Check out the articleHow to improve the sound quality on the trumpet.as you will find in this article a very useful exercise that I use as my personal warm up trumpet exercise and yes...
...I really do the exercise every day. If I've had a really intense day of play, I'll spend more time on the exercise, play it multiple times, and if I've had an easy day, I might only play it once, but...
… I make sure to end each practice day by playing the practice.
Play this trumpet exercise to clear the air of your sound
(Play this exercise several times throughout the day to "cleanse" your airy sound. It can also be used to improve the quality of your overall sound, even after you've corrected your airy trumpet sound.)
Is an airy trumpet sound always bad?
no For example, there are many jazz players who want that soft, airy sound in the low registers, if you play very softly and confidently, it can sound great played that way. However, at least 95% of the trumpet repertoire requires a clear and clean trumpet sound without air.
With that in mind, it's absolutely imperative that we learn how to get clean sound FIRST, and then...
…then play with an airy sound IF or IF the situation calls for it.
In my opinion all trumpet players should be able to play with a clear and clean sound at all times, otherwise you will severely limit your ability to play the trumpet and will likely cause other trumpet problems in the future as well.
How do we prevent it from happening again?
When warming upcan be found on this pageYou are on the right path every day...
...and I might also suggest that you not only use it to warm up, but also to play it a few times throughout the day. Also remember to rest as much as you play and try not to constantly try new devices lest you confuse your trumpet approach.
Limit your playing loudly, and remember to always play a few soft notes after you've had to keep the hammer on a few high, high notes. This will go a long way and prevent you from getting that airy trumpet sound in the future.
Never forget to warm up
Of course, you should also make sure that you always warm up properly before you start your intensive training session. If you don't have a good warm-up routine, check out my articleTrumpet warm up exercises and how to warm up with trumpet.
Here we go. Make sure you do the things you've read in this article and I'm sure your trumpet sound will be clean and clear as spring water in no time. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you feel you need any further assistance in this regard. You can find my contact details in the “About me” section in the menu.
PDListen to some trumpeters playing with an airy sound that sounds great in this type of music...
...and finally, watch the latest video and hear how absolutely crystal clear sound sounds... with 0% air in the sound.
- A Bronner
He doesn't always use that sound, but on some tracks he does... and it sounds great.
Chris Botti is also a trumpeter who goes back and forth between a warm, airy sound and a clearer sound.
And the unique...
- Moritz André
With its crystal clear trumpet sound with ZERO air in the tone. He plays piccolo trumpet here and no airy high notes here: (starts playing at 1:23)
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