Just as athletes perform a variety of physical exercises to increase their strength and agility, trumpet players perform different musical movements with their instruments. The purpose of these trumpet exercises is not to make music, but to practice the mechanics of playing the instrument and improve their performance abilities. These include exercises in quickly moving the fingers to change notes on the instrument, interval exercises to increase the musician's playing endurance, and practice producing the buzzing sound a trumpet uses to make music.
The trumpet, like other brass instruments, produces different sounds based on two factors — the buzzing sound a trumpet player makes into a mouth piece to produce air vibrations, and the length of metal tubing that turns this buzzing into a note. The three valves that a trumpet player can depress in different combinations cause the air to travel through different lengths of the trumpets tubing before exiting the bell as a note. In addition to pressing down the correct combination of values for a particular note, or the 'fingering' as it is called, the player must also produce a buzz in the mouthpiece that has a pitch that corresponds to the note he or she is trying to produce.
Trumpet players practice producing this buzzing sound by buzzing into their mouthpiece when it is not connected to the trumpet. Musicians who play the trumpet, as well as other brass instruments, make this buzzing sound by tightly pursing their lips and blowing air out. The result of the air forcing its way through the lips creates a buzzing sound and vibration of the lips. Higher notes require that the player purse his or her lips more tightly, while lower notes require less tightly pursed lips. Trumpet exercises that focus on buzzing through the mouthpiece let the musician focus on the quality of the buzz he or she creates, which will translate into a richer trumpet sound.
When trumpet players are playing with their mouthpieces in their instruments, they need to combine the note they are buzzing with the correct valve fingering for the trumpet to produce the desired sound. The speed at which a musician can change these fingers dictates how quickly a player can change notes when playing music. Trumpet exercises that require players to rapidly play a succession of notes with different fingers can help the player practice quickly changing his fingerings and switch notes. Developing this skill allows the musician to play pieces of music that are more technically complex with quick tempo.
Intervals are the types of trumpet exercises that build strength in the mouth muscles that facilitate buzzing. To do this, the musician plays a note with a particular fingering, and then slurs to the note above or below the current note that does not require the player to change his or her valve fingering. This means that the change of note comes solely from the player tightening or loosening these muscles to produce a different buzzing tone. When a trumpet player's mouth muscles get tired, he or she has to work harder to produce a quality sound from the instrument. By strengthening these muscles, the musician can play for longer periods of time.