Trumpet playing and smoking cigarettes

a trumpeter is smoking his cigarette

Trumpet playing and smoking cigarettes

We are all human humans and, last time I checked, humans are not perfect. Believe it or not, sometimes we do things that are not optimal for our health and one of those things are…

…smoking cigarettes!

But what if you play the trumpet? How will the smoking affect your trumpet playing ? Or could the lung training you get from blowing the trumpet, in some way, help to fight off the otherwise negative health effects of smoking ?

Well, this is what my article is going to cover today, so stay with me until the end of it.

Let’s jump in!

How does smoking cigarettes affect your trumpet playing?

I’m doing a bit of online research on this, but I will start with my own story, as I personally smoke cigarettes from time to time…

…or should I say that I smoke in periods. Sometimes I smoke for a couple of months and then I go for perhaps a year without smoking anything at all. When I do fall off the wagon and have my periods of smoking these are what I have noticed about my own trumpet playing.

  • 5-10% drop in lung capacity

Even after as little as 4-5 weeks of smoking cigarettes I notice a drop in lung capacity. By lung capacity I am talking about the total volume of air I can take into my lungs

  • 10-20% reduction in “in-breath” speed

Just as above, this too happens fast. Personally I have mild asthma so my results may not be the way you react to smoking, but I’m sharing my data here. By the way, if you also suffer from asthma, take a look at my post is playing the trumpet good for asthma?

The numbers are not estimated, but they are actually tested by real spirometer and other equipment.

Considering that these negative effects happens just after a few weeks of smoking I feel a bit embarrassed sharing this data. Not only that, but all of us also know about the negative impact smoking has on our health in general.

I do however go on long “streaks” without any smoking at all (sometimes for years at end) and then I end up smoking on a vacation for a couple of months before I, again, clean up my act.

In addition to the reduced lung capacity what else does it do to my trumpet playing?

Well, with the reduction of air, and how well I can use it, other trumpet playing issues also starts creeping in. This is because breathing IS the core foundation of our playing. It is the very fuel for the whole trumpet engine so it is not surprising that things like endurance and power also suffers if I smoke…

…to be honest it is not by much though, but it is indeed noticeable.

Health guides aside are there ANY benefits at all?

Well, nicotine in and of itself, is what we call a “nootropic”. If you don’t know what nootropic means the definition of a nootropic is…

“A drug, supplement, or other substance that may improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions like memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals”

In other words it may help with short term concentration, motivation and focus which in all honesty could help with focus and practice or even performing the trumpet…


The long term negative effects on our health far outweigh the, potential, nootropic benefits we get from the nicotine. IF we only smoked because of the nootropic effects we would be dishonest to ourselves because there are much healthier ways to take nicotine…

…like for example using a spray or something similar, without getting the harmful smoke and all the unhealthy crap we get by smoking. Nicotine in and of itself is actually not at all as dangerous as many other compounds found in cigarettes and a significant number of them are toxic (poisonous) and can damage our cells and as we all know…

many of them are carcinogenic.

So short answer…No!

No, I’m sorry, but there are no real benefits of smoking that could help your trumpet playing aside from the potentially increased focus, but as I said, you can get that from something else.

Are there any studies on this?

There are no real studies or research done on trumpet playing and smoking or how smoking would affect trumpet playing other then all the anecdotal evidence we can read about and well, at least 90% of those pretty much say the same things that I have noticed and mentioned…

  • A decreased lung capacity
  • Coughing that disturbs the trumpet playing
  • Reduced endurance and power
  • Decline of general health (worse health=worse trumpet playing)

After some online research these are the things I come across on trumpet forums and other places on the web and they are pretty much go in line with what my personal friends and myself has noticed.

But since we use our lungs so much when playing the trumpet…
…perhaps that lung training means we can avoid some of the otherwise negative effects of smoking?

There is just no data on this, but I think we are starting to grasp at straws here. There is not much left justifying our smoking, other than that we occasionally enjoy our cigarette brake,  and…

…I think we are better of accepting that instead of trying to justify it in some weird way that just don’t hold up. Perhaps trumpet players have “stronger and healthier”lungs than the average Joe but I hardly think that would make us less likely to suffer any of the negative consequences that accompanies long term smoking.

Some world class trumpet players smoke

I don’t want to write an article giving the impression that it is impossible to become a great trumpet player if you smoke. In fact there are a few incredible high class trumpet virtuosos out there who also smoke so, again, I’m not saying it can’t be done…

…I am merely pointing out the negative effects on trumpet playing most people who smoke experience, me included. Now, of course one could speculate that the trumpet master who smokes would be even greater and better if they swapped the cigarettes for a 3 mile run instead and…

…sura, it might just be the case, however now we are getting so deep into speculations that there is no point in going any further with that thought. Sure there are people using cigarettes who still plays a smoking hot (see what I did there) trumpet, but, in general, it is fair to say that smoking cigarettes indeed has a negative impact on brass playing.

Smoking and trumpet playing final words

Smoking is bad for us and as the reader I hope you understand that I highly recommend AGAINST smoking, but I do also want to point out that I’m not judging and pointing any fingers at all here…nor am I moralizing in any way shape or form…

…I guess there is just no way around this. Smoking and trumpet playing is not a good idea. In fact smoking is never a good idea and as far as my own smoking goes…

…sure I enjoy it from time to time, and that’s ok however, I think the cigarette package I bought yesterday will be my last package I buy for a very long time now. I’m going “clean” for at least 12 months…

…perhaps you could do the same?

Thank you for reading the article “Trumpet playing and smoking cigarettes”

-Robert Slotte-

P.S. Feel free to also take a look at my article 26 Trumpet playing tips to help you become a better trumpeter


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