How to Do Trumpet Lip Bend Exercises

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How to Do Trumpet Lip Bend Exercises

We received a comment and question about trumpet lip bend exercises. The person acknowledged the importance of doing lip bends, but pointed out that my other video says very little about how to do them. So let’s take a little bit of time to discuss how to bend notes on the trumpet.

A “trumpet lip bend” is basically a flat note. The idea is to “lip down” a note on the trumpet to the next half step down. To do a proper trumpet lip bend, you need to lip the note down on the trumpet and hold it steady for a few seconds. This is easier on the lowest notes, from low C to low F# beneath the staff.

The First Trumpet Lip Bend Exercises

If you’ve never done trumpet lip bends before, then let’s start with low C, one ledger line beneath the staff. Play C on your trumpet and hold it for four seconds, then play B and hold it for a few seconds, then return to C for four seconds.

Next, remove your mouthpiece from the trumpet and buzz the same pitches again; C, B, and C. Do this a few times, C, B, and C.

Next, put the mouthpiece back on the trumpet and play C, B, C, but this time, instead of playing the B second valve, use the same open fingering from the C.

This should work! However, if you can’t do it, if you can’t do the bend the note, then go back to the mouthpiece and play the C, B, C on the mouthpiece again. Do it several times because you’re going to try to do exactly the same thing when you put the mouthpiece back on the trumpet. Keep going back and forth between the trumpet and the mouthpiece until you are able to bend the note to B without changing fingers on the trumpet.

Bending Up the Scale

When you can bend a low C, it’s time to begin moving up the scale. Bend from D down to C sharp and back to D again. Do this to each of the notes in the C major scale as follows:

Trumpet Lip Bend Exercise

As you progress up the scale, the notes will become just a little more difficult to bend. When you have difficulty with one of the notes, spend a little more time bending that note before you move on to the next note.

And please remember that you should basically master bending the low C before you try to progress up the scale. The C will be the easiest note to bend, and if you are having trouble bending that note, then you will most likely not do very well on the higher notes either.

Daily Routines

If you are interested in using trumpet lip bend exercises in your daily practice, then I have a number of books that include lip bends in the long tone section of the books. You may be interested in the Chops Express book if you practice less than an hour per day. Otherwise, you may be interested in my Trumpet Chops series. So far we have published three books from the seven book series. You can find the Trumpet Chops Tyro, Trumpet Chops Player and Trumpet Chops Pro books at a number of online stores. Feel free to visit EddieLewis for more details.

The Scientific Details

You don’t have to know how and/or why the lip bends work to be able to do them and benefit form them on your trumpet. There are a lot of trumpet teachers who will give you quasi-scientific explanations about how this works. And yes, there is science behind it. The problem is, knowing the science, in a general sense, does not explain what is happening inside your own mouth and/or inside your own body. There is a false assumption out in the trumpet community that everyone who plays well plays trumpet the same way. This is false. There are indeed very different players who play trumpet in very different ways – physically speaking.

So it is quite possible that one person might do trumpet lip bends via one physical mechanism while another different trumpet player can achieve the exact same results with an entirely different physical mechanism. That is why I approach these types of issues with a more “hands on” approach and tend to NOT talk about the science behind how it works.

I also suspect that a lot of trumpet players who talk about the science don’t know nearly as much as they think, AND, only talk about the science because it makes them sound deceptively more believable. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. Instead, do things, like the steps I outlined above, that will help you figure out what works for you in your own personal trumpet playing. It doesn’t matter what the science is if you are making it work.

Trumpet Lessons?

You can learn more about me, Eddie Lewis, at my other website, EddieLewis.com. If you are interested in trumpet lessons, feel free to check out that website to learn more about how I teach and our policies.

2 Responses

  1. Anthony Tosti

    So HOW do you do bends? If you don’t explain what has to happens”inside” the lips(tongue, lip positioning). Leaving it
    vague is a cop out. Your result is not helpful.

    • Eddie Lewis

      Hello Anthony,

      Are you saying this from the perspective of someone who is having trouble doing lip bends? And if you are having this trouble, have you tried what I outline here on the web page and/or the video?

      I’m certain that I could tell you in a private lesson, after hearing you and watching you play, after working with you on trying to get a lip bend, that I could tell YOU precisely what to do to make it work. But to tell you such things when I know nothing about how you play would be irresponsible. There isn’t one right way to play the trumpet and different players who play different ways are going to do different things to get a lip bend.

      What I offer here in this blog post and in the video, instead, is advice about how to create an atmosphere where you can more easily figure it out for yourself. I base this approach on just short of 40 years of experience teaching trumpet lessons. I choose to teach “groups” this way because I KNOW that one technique is not going to produce the same results for every student.

      This, by the way, is a common criticism of my physical routine books, like Daily Routines and Chops Express. I’ll never forget the first time someone online tried to roast me by saying that my books were NOT useful because I say NOTHING in them about what to do with the tongue, or the embouchure, or any of that stuff that all the other books talk about. No, instead, my books help create an environment that encourage you to do all the right stuff internally without needing to manhandle every tiny physical aspect.

      This is my teaching style, for the most part. You can say it is a cop out teaching style if you want. I disagree. The truth is, even if I said “do this” and “do that” and “don’t do the other”, how would you even know, with 100% certainty that you were actually doing all of those things?

      You know, I’m sure the other teachers sound more sure of themselves as a result. But the truth is, ANYONE can shoot their mouths off and say that they “see all and know all”. I’m not convinced most of the experts know any more than Joe Schmo on the street. They CERTAINLY do NOT know what is happening in YOUR mouth while YOU play. I promise you that much.

      So no, this is my teaching style. If you prefer a teacher that “knows everything” and will tell you as much, then I suggest you not look in this direction. I never offered that. I can show you things that will help, but I will do it in a way that doesn’t make me look like I’m some kind of trumpet wizard. I never needed that kind of adoration….which is precisely WHY I believe this make me a better teacher than a lot of those who think they can tell YOU, without every hearing you or seeing you play, exactly what to do with your tongue, lips, and teeth, etc.

      I hope that makes sense. My methods work and they work without needing to sound like I am all knowing and all seeing.

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