Did you know that trumpets have been around for thousands of years? One of the oldest musical instruments, trumpets date back to at least 1500 B.C. Archaeologists even found bronze and silver trumpets in the Egyptian tomb of Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut.

Although we think of modern trumpets as musical instruments, military leaders used early trumpets as signaling tools. Without the trumpet, messages may not have reached other sections of a large army. Leaders gave special protection to trumpet players due to their critical role.

Basically just a curved, hollow metal tube, a trumpet begins with a mouthpiece at the narrow end and ends with a flared bell at the opposite end. The bell of the trumpet projects sound.

Trumpet players press or release three valves to play different notes. As a player blows into the trumpet, the valves direct the air through small pieces of extra tubing to produce different notes.

Though it may sound easy, playing a trumpet can be a challenge because you must learn how to properly blow into it. To play a trumpet, you must purse your lips tightly together and let them vibrate as you blow. If that’s not complicated enough, you also need to move your tongue at the same time.

Though it may sound somewhat unpleasant, caring properly for a trumpet requires the player to occasionally empty the water that builds up inside. As you play a trumpet, moisture from your breath condenses inside the instrument.

As this happens, it may begin to sound like it’s gurgling. Pressing the “water key” allows the moisture to drip out. Some people refer to this as the “spit valve.”


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    • We’re really glad you liked that duet, Julie! Thanks for visiting another WONDERful Wonder of the Day® today and leaving us a GREAT comment! YOU ROCK! P.S. We really like the animated smiley face in your comment! :-)

    • Hi Christy! Since our Wonders are sometimes updated, the proper way to cite the publishing date is to list the date you consulted our page for your research. It sounds like you play the trumpet. Also, if you are writing a report, remember to cite your sources. The official Wonderopolis Permissions Policy states:

      Wonderopolis materials may be cited or excerpted in periodicals, books, and educational materials under the following stipulations:

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      Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you play a trumpet?
  • How were trumpets used thousands of years ago?
  • How does a trumpet produce different notes?

Wonder Gallery

Wonder #66- Trumpet Static ImageVimeo Video

Try It Out

Have you ever tried to play a trumpet? If you don’t have one at home, it’s easy enough to make your own homemade trumpet. Just follow the directions, and you’ll be sounding off soon enough!


Still Wondering

Take a trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to see the custom-made trumpet of John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie — the founder of modern jazz. While you’re there, spend some time groovin’ to jazz.


Wonder Categories/Tags



instrument  mute  note  pitch  trumpet  valve 

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