How Long Should I Practice Trumpet Each Day To Get Good? How Many Hours a Day?

“This is exactly because the brain tends to forget in between sessions, and by practicing more frequently, the info will stay fresh inside the brain. The same goes for the whole nervous system”

How Long Should I Practice Trumpet Each Day to Get Good?
How Many Hours Should I Practice…Or Minutes?

How long does it take to become a good trumpet player? How much should I practice each day to get good? How long should I practice trumpet?…HELP! Those are some common questions that people who are in the beginning of their trumpet journey often ask.

If your goal is to become a somewhat decent amateur trumpet player you should practice for at least 30 minutes 4-5 times a week. Depending on what goals you have after that, we have to take a look at a few things. Jump in and let’s talk about it…

How Long Should I Practice Trumpet To Get Good

Let’s first start with the time frame in form of years. Some of you have probably heard of the 10.000 hour rule. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10.000 hour rule says that it takes about 10.000 hours of focused practice to become a true master at what you are practicing. The 10.000 rule is of course something thats hould be taken with a grain of salt but…

…let’s take a look at what that would look like. 10.000 hours of practicing the trumpet, just exactly how long would it take to get to that 10.000 hours?

To get to 10.000 hours you would have to practice for
  • 54 years, if you practice the trumpet for 30 minutes each day
  • 27 years, if you practice the trumpet for 1 hour every single day
  • 13 years, if you where to practice your trumpet for 2 hours each day
  • 9 years, if you are going at it for 3 hours every single day
  • 6 years if you practice for 4 hours every day
  • 5 years if you practice the trumpet for 5 hours each day

This is the amount of time you would have to spend practicing your trumpet to become a true master at it, according to the 10.000 hour rule. Now in reality it is not this easy though, and using numbers and formulas is not always the best way to go about it…

Why? well, because there are just too many factors involved. For example there are factors like…

  • How young is the trumpeter?
  • How well is he able to concentrate when practice?
  • How motivated is the student?
  • How well does his brain process new information compared to other?
  • How well does his nervous system store repetitive small movements? (muscle memory)
  • In what way does the trumpeter receive new information? (courses, teacher, bands, internet, trumpet masters…et.c)
  • How quickly the brain forgets between sessions

…and much, much, more. As you can see there are a lot of things that play into how fast, and how long, it takes for us to learn and become good at something.

For example the last point on that list, “how quickly the brain forgets” leads me to the the next, important subheading…

How long should I practice trumpet?
More frequent and short sessions are superior to longer practice sessions

Because the brain forgets new info that is coming in it is much smarter to practice the trumpet more often than having a few long sessions a couple of week. The same goes for the nervous system which is involved when we are developing “muscle memory”

Let’s say that you can set aside 3 hours practicing the trumpet every week. You will undoubtedly improve and excel much quicker if you divide those 3 hours by practicing 25 minutes every day instead of practicing for 1 hour, 3 times a week.

This is exactly because the brain tends to forget in between sessions, and by practicing more frequently, the info will stay fresh inside the brain. The same goes for the whole nervous system.

Then there is the muscles in the embouchure

In addition to this, trumpet players have yet another thing to consider. The embouchure muscles / muscles around the lips. They need constant stimulation in order to not get weaker and lose their flexibility. Here to, shorter and more frequent sessions are to prefer…

…for example, if you were to practice three times a week but then practice for an hour at a time, that one hour might bee too much for your embouchure muscles to handle at one time. Especially since you have had two days off prior to that practice day.

Building the face muscles in a slow and steady peace is much smarter than suddenly going hard, smashing it and leaving it totally exhausted.

If you practice a lot, the same principle holds true…

If you practice a lot, the same principle holds true down to a day to day basis. Say you want to practice two hours every single day. Here too it is much better if you are able to divide those two hours in to, for example, four 30 minutes sessions.

This will help you to avoid overtaxing the embouchure as well as help your brain to learn faster. Remember that the brain does also get tired and needs frequent breaks in order to store and process the data in an effective way…

…so, keep it short but do it often!

Your mindset about the practice time

If you are asking yourself the question “how much should I practice the trumpet each day to get good?”….

…well, at least it shows you want to become a good trumpet player, however…

I would like to invite you to change your mindset a bit. Instead of asking yourself “how much should I practice the trumpet to get good?” try to instead adapt the mindset I will be ready to practice the trumpet as much as it takes, in order to get good. 

That said, everyone loves numbers and data, myself included, so keep on reading….

How may hours should you practice the trumpet each day?

HERE Are Some General Guidelines

That said, everyone loves data, myself included, so here are some numbers for you. They are just a rough estimate from what I have seen from my students, myself, my trumpet playing friends and colleagues, as well as everything I have seen and read over the years.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and the following guidelines are based on, shall we say “average” fast learners. Not exceptional trumpet students nor trumpet students that seem to have a lot of trouble learning.

60 minutes a week = Will never get you anywhere 
  • If you are only prepared to practice for 20 minutes three times a week you can forget your dreams of becoming a good trumpet player, not to mention a pro trumpeter.
  • With this amount of practice time, it is impossible to build strength in the face muscles as well as build all the other necessary trumpet playing skills needed to play well. However, if your ambition is no more than being able to play a few easy songs, with a “somewhat decent tone” then by all means, nothing wrong with that.
2-3 hours a week = decent amateur player
  • This would mean a practice amount of about 30 minutes 5-6 times a week.
  • Now we are starting to talk improvements. With this amount of practice it is very possible to become a pretty decent amateur trumpet player. You could become good enough to play some fun trumpet songs and play in a few bands, albeit not on a very high level.
  • This amount of practice time is NOT enough to become a professional trumpeter though.
10 hours a week = a good solid amateur trumpeter
  • How many hours of trumpet practice a day is this?  about 90 minutes a day!
  • Now we are staring to talk about an amount of practice time that can potentially take you to the level of a very good amateur trumpet player.
  • By practicing for 90 minutes every day you will set yourself apart from most amateur trumpeters in the world, as most trumpeters, who only play for fun, will not commit to this much trumpet practice on a daily basis
  • You will be able to take on solo gigs (funerals, weddings etc.) and play in pretty good bands and orchestras. However, for most people, this is still not enough to become a professional trumpeter
14-17 hours a week = potential pro level
  • This means 2-2,5h of trumpet practice each and every day.
  • If structuring the practice time in a very smart way, this amount of practice is enough to be able to become a professional trumpeter for some people.
  • With this amount of practice  you are far ahead of most trumpet players in general (if we were to lump every single trumpet player on the planet together and calculate an average)
  • However, just like the last category, for many trumpeters, this is still not enough practice time to be able to make it in the world of professional trumpet playing
21-25 hours a week = pro trumpeter!
  • This means that you will spend about 3-3,5 hours with the horn on your face, on a daily basis.
  • If we are talking about practicing in a smart and efficient manner, this amount of practice time should be enough for most people to become a good, solid, professional trumpet player. The key is smart practice though!
  • However, in some countries and in very completive areas, this might still not be enough to set yourself apart from the competition.
28-42 hours a week = trumpet virtuoso
  • Ok, if you spend this much time with the horn on your lips, and if your embouchure can take it, you could potentially reach the virtuoso level.
  • This would mean at least 4-6 hours of practicing the horn on a daily basis and to be honest, this is something most people will never do. And that is understandable. If YOU decide to do it, however, you will have a good chance to become better than 99,99% of the rest.

Keep in mind that we are all different

Now you have to remember that we are all different and some people just have a way of learning faster and with less effort than others. And the other way around is also true. I know some extraordinary trumpet virtuosos who have been able to reach that level with “only” 3 hours of trumpet practice a day and that is not the norm, when we are talking about virtuosos.

The other way around is also true. Some people have to do A LOT of practicing and they still struggle to be able to play at a professional level.

How much should you practice the trumpet
to MAINTAIN what you have?

Maintaining what you already have is much easier than to build up. That said, we still have to put in a decent amount of practice time just to keep our chops strong, as well as keeping the rest of our playing mechanism on the same level, without it starting to deteriorate.

Professional Level: most professional trumpet players feel that they need to get in at least 60-90 minutes of practice every day just to maintain the skill level they have. I find this to be true for myself as well. If I practice for 60 minutes a day, I will keep my form but it is not enough to improve,  although I don’t really see myself as a professional at this point in my life.

Amateur trumpeters: Most amateur players do not need that much practice time to maintain what they got. Of course it depends greatly but it is not uncommon to see pretty good amateurs trumpeters maintaining their current playing skills with just one or two practice sessions a week…

…remember though, we are talking about maintaining now…not building or improving.

How much do trumpet stars practice each day?
A few examples

Rafael Méndez:  8-12 hours a day

Perhaps one of the greatest trumpet players ever to walk this planet. Rafael was born on March 26, 1906 in Jiquilpan, Mexico. This guy practiced A LOT. Most parents have to force their children to practice but Rafael actually practiced more than his father allowed him to.

Later on, when he got married, his obsession for the trumpet did not stop and his wife, frequently, had to remind him top stop practicing for the day because it was way past bedtime. Rumor has it that he often practiced up to 13 hours a day.

Listen to some of Rafael Mendes playing here


Maurice Andrè: 8-9 hours a day

I think every trumpet player has heard the name Maurice Andè. A first class virtuoso who made the piccolo trumpet popular. His gorgeous sound was out of this world and his finger technique was…not bad 😉 Rumor has it that he often practiced for 8-9 hours a day.

Listen to Maurice Andrè here


Doc Severinsen: 7-9 hours a day

I admire and respect Doc Severinsen so much. Born in  July 7, 1927, he is still alive today, keeps playing the trumpet, performing and still plays great at an age of 91 years old.

Doc has always practiced A LOT and when it comes to trumpet practice time,  many trumpeters have called him “a fanatic”. By many,he was also considered the #1 trumpeter in the world for a big part of his playing years…coincidence? I think not!

This is Doc Severinsen


How long should you practice trumpet every day
Conclusion

When trying to figure out how much practice is required to learn the trumpet you have to first know your goals. How good do you want to get? Is “average” good enough for you or do you want to really set yourself apart from the masses? If the latter is the case then you know what to do, start collecting those hours of practice time…

and make sure you get well over 10.000 of them!

Speaking of practice and improving, conside taking a look at my article
26 trumpet playing tips to become a better trumpeter.

P.S. Feel free to comment in the comment section below. How much do you spend practicing the trumpet on a daily basis and do you play professionally or are you playing just for fun ? I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading the article.

-Robert Slotte-