Tim teaches musical instruments in schools and colleges. He also plays the trumpet in several bands and arranges and publishes music.
Trumpet Fingering Chart
Below, you'll find a useful chart that shows the most commonly used fingerings for trumpet. This chart can also be used for playing cornet, flugelhorn, tenor horn, baritone, euphonium (which have three valves), and the tuba (three valves treble clef). The fingerings shown are the ones that are most likely to be in tune on most trumpets. The low C# and D are slightly sharp, so they require you to extend the 3rd valve slide by about an inch. Notes can be fine-tuned by using the 1st and 3rd valve slides or by lipping the note.
The video below will show you the most common fingerings. It will also play each note to help you to pitch correctly. The sound on the video is in Bb, so the pitches would be incorrect for Eb instruments, such as soprano cornet, tenor horn, and tuba. However, the fingerings will still be correct for the aforementioned instruments.
Trumpet Fingering Video
How Many Notes Can the Trumpet Play?
Although the trumpet only has three valves, it can still play a fully chromatic scale over the range of about two and a half octaves. The lowest note on the trumpet is a written F#, which is below the stave. The highest note, for the most competent players, is a top D, which is written above the stave.
The Range of a Trumpet
The Open Notes on a Trumpet
The trumpet has several “open notes” that are played without any fingerings. These are the same open notes from the harmonic series that a bugle plays and are the notes (listed from lowest to highest) C, G, C, E, G, Bb, and top C. You move between the open notes by using your lips, tightening them to play higher. The open notes become closer together the higher you progress. More skillful players can play a low pedal C, as well as higher notes above the top C. Generally, the highest note in grade eight is a top C. However, some pieces may go a little higher.
The Open Notes/Harmonic Series
How Does the Trumpet Work Video
How Do the Valves Work on Trumpet
With just the open notes, you are limited in what you can play. To make the trumpet fully chromatic, you will need to use the valves. The valves help you to fill the notes between the open notes by lowering the pitch of each open note.
When a valve is pressed down, it increases the length of the trumpet by directing the air through the additional tubing on the valve block. There are three valves, each has a different length of tubing.
What the Three Valves on a Trumpet Do
- Valve 1 lowers the pitch by 2 semitones.
- Valve 2 lowers the pitch by a semitone.
- Valve 3 lowers the pitch by 3 semitones.
By using different combinations of valves, you can play all of the notes. Using the 2nd line open G as an example, I've written the valve combinations in descending chromaticism below.
Valve Combinations in Descending Chromaticism
- No valves: Open note: G
- 2nd valve: Down a semi tone: F#
- 1st valve: Down two semitones: F
- 1st and 2nd valves: Down three semitones: E
- 2nd and 3rd valves: Down four semitones: Eb
- 1st and 3rd valves: Down five semitones: D
- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd valves: Down six semitones: C#
You can then do the same pattern on each open note, filling the gap between them.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the highest note possible on trumpet?
Answer: Player's such as Wayne Bergeron can play solos with super Ds, for example his solo of O Holy Night. However the highest note I've ever heard anyone get is the C above super C.