Preservation Hall Lessons – New Orleans Trumpet Introduction with Preservation Hall Trumpeter Kevin Louis

Trumpet Introduction

GRADE: 9-12
GENRE: Traditional Jazz
TOPIC: Trumpet
DISCIPLINE: Harmonizing Instruments


In this lesson, students will be able to describe the role of the Trumpet in New Orleans music. They will explore notable Trumpeters, the origins of the instrument, and identify and maintain the parts of the instrument. 



  • Identify the origins of the Trumpet. 
  • Identify notable Trumpeters from New Orleans.
  • Describe the role of the Trumpet within New Orleans music.
  • Identify and describe the parts of the instrument.
  • Assemble the Trumpet.
  • Provide proper maintenance for the Trumpet.



National Core Arts Standards

Music – Harmonizing Instruments, Anchor Standard 1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Music – Harmonizing Instruments, Anchor Standard 4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.



Students should have knowledge of an instrument and an understanding of the lines and spaces on the musical staff. Teachers should review the lesson resources, media, and websites prior to launching the lesson.





  1. Introduce the Trumpet to students by showing them the instrument. Tell students the Trumpet has been a vital instrument in New Orleans Music for a long time. The Trumpet dates back to 1500 B.C. and has taken many shapes and forms over the centuries. Its use ranged from a “signaling tool” during wars to playing music for entertainment in the late fourteenth century. The Trumpet is a member of the Brasswind Family and is considered the “quarterback” of the band because it most often leads the melody. The Trumpet is unique in its ability to carry soft or loud sound for long distances. It was said that its sound could be heard across the Mississippi River. These characteristics make the Trumpet an essential ingredient in New Orleans music and culture.


  1. Display slides 3 and 4 of the presentation, Trumpet Introduction, to discuss the Greats of New Orleans Trumpet. Tell students the Trumpet was recognized early on by the great Buddy Bolden, the leader of the Big Four. Bolden’s Trumpet technique helped establish Traditional New Orleans Jazz, a technique that still carries on to this day. Bolden’s band, the Big Four, is based on syncopated beats and influenced by African-Latin drummers in Congo Square. Other notable New Orleans Trumpeters include Joe King Oliver, Freddie Kappard, and Bunk Johnson.


  1. Display slide 5 of the presentation, Trumpet Introduction, to discuss  The Role of the Trumpet in New Orleans Traditional Jazz. Tell students the role of the Trumpet in New Orleans music is to lead the band. The Trumpet will carry the melodies, like in “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Note: Other instruments, at times, do carry leads, but the Trumpet is typically the primary lead.



  1. Show the students a Trumpet. Ask: Why is the Trumpet an essential instrument in New Orleans Traditional Jazz? Display slide 6 of the presentation, Trumpet Introduction, to review the anatomy of the Trumpet. Identify the parts of the instrument with students: mouthpiece, mouthpiece receiver, lead pipe, valves (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), top valve cap, finger rings, bell, 1st valve slide, 2nd valve slide, 3rd valve slide, tuning slide, and water key. Allow time for students to analyze and discuss the anatomy of the Trumpet.


  1. Discuss the mouthpiece with students. Tell students the mouthpiece is designed in several sizes, but size 7C is recommended. A person’s body structure and lip shape may help in determining the best mouthpiece fit.


  1. Display slide 7 of the presentation, Trumpet Introduction, to review the Trumpet Assembly instructions. Tell students that proper assembly of the Trumpet is important because the mouthpiece can be easily jammed into the receiver, making it difficult to pull out. This could cause the receiver or pipe to break. Model for students how to insert the mouthpiece into the receiver. Have students pick up their mouthpiece and gently, without force, place the mouthpiece into the receiver until it naturally stops. 


  1. Have students practice inserting the mouthpiece into the receiver. Facilitate the room to provide support for students. Tell students the importance of this practice is to avoid a major problem that requires more rigorous maintenance or repair. If a Trumpet requires jammed mouthpiece maintenance, an instructor or teacher can use a Mouthpiece Puller to remove the mouthpiece without damaging the Trumpet.


  1. Display slide 8 of the presentation, Trumpet Introduction, to review the importance of proper Trumpet Maintenance. Maintenance guarantees a longer life and maintains the integrity of the Trumpet. Keeping a clean instrument also keeps your body safe and healthy. Tell students it is important to always play the Trumpet without any food, candy, or gum particles in your mouth. Food particles blown into the instrument cause serious internal damage. 


  1. Introduce the Trumpet maintenance tools: snake brush, valve brush, mouthpiece brush, valve oil, slide grease, slightly warm dishwashing detergent, and microfiber cloth. Demonstrate how to use maintenance tools properly. Show students how to apply the snake brush through the mouthpiece receiver and slide valves. Use the valve brush to gently clean the internal parts of the valves. Insert the mouthpiece brush into the mouthpiece to clean it thoroughly. Apply a drop of valve oil to lubricate the valves to avoid the valves from sticking. Gently pull the slides halfway out and apply slide grease to lubricate the slides to avoid sticking. Use a small drop of dish detergent mixed with warm water to clean the exterior of the Trumpet. Then dry the Trumpet with a Microfiber Cloth.  



  1. Assess students’ knowledge of the Trumpet. Have students assemble the mouthpiece to the receiver and describe 2-3 parts of the Trumpet. Ask: What are the proper techniques for Trumpet maintenance?



Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.

Louis Ford, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Content Producer



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