Bb trumpet and transposing

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Usb, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. Usb

    Usb New Friend

    Aug 3, 2014

    I got a used bb trumpet from a friend 2 months ago and im learning to play it. I've never played a wind instrument before, but I know my way around strings and keyboards.

    My question is this: since I'm planning to play the trumpet mainly in groups with C tuned instruments, wouldnt it be easier for me to learn to play and read allready trasponing in C? Most of the music sheets aren't written for trumpet, so this way i can just play them and im in tune with the others. Often there is no music sheet at all, they just tell me which key they play in (well I'm obviously not good enough yet to do this on my trumpet, but I've been doing it on other instruments until now).
    I'm also doing the first arban exercises in C, which makes them a little harder for a newbie since they are a tone higher, but it helps me get used to playing in C.
    I know i should get a trumpet in C, but this is what i got. So instead of playing the few scores i have in Bb and strugle to transpose everything else, I decided to play everything in C and just 'strugle' with transposing when i find a score written in Bb.
    Should I switch back to Bb? Cause 'it's a Bb instrument and you should play is as such' simply isn't a good enough reason for me. But I'm just a newbie affer all, so please come out with your critics/suggestions/ideas. Thx:)
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, Usb! It's common in German Posaunenchors to learn in C. The only drawback is when playing flexibility exercises (going back and forth between two or more notes all with the same fingering) the fingerings don't always match up.
  3. Sterling

    Sterling Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 22, 2007
    Marcellus, NY
    Great question. Do what you like! At some time you will either have to transpose or learn new fingerlings. Have fun!
  4. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    If you plan on playing mostly C instrument music, then I'd learn the C fingerings as my primary method of playing. Then, when you occasionally play something written for a Bb instrument, you'll be transposing.
  5. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    It depends a bit on what you will be playing I would say. When I play with an orchestra I see a lot of music written for "Trumpet in D" or "in F" and mostly there is no "Bb Trumpet" transcription available (or for C trumpet). Transposing up one tone so you can play parts written for instruments tuned in C isn't that hard when you get used to it (though I still find E Major tricky, which is F# Major for Bb trumpet). On occasion I've seen orchestra scores transcribed for both Bb and C trumpets so we could choose.

  6. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Weeeelllllll.... For the same reason you've quoted, I started playing concert pitch... and then, my life circumstances changed rapidly, and I was thrown into the fascinating world of brass bands. And made a total hash of it. My first remedy was - get myself slides in Ab, so as to be able to use my accustomed fingerings. Fairly time-consuming, and rather expensive. Then - I finally decided to re-learn proper Bb fingerings. Was quite hard, and took more than six months, getting everything re-done. In some way, it was rather líke re-learning trumpet playing. All in all, I'd suggest that you learn the proper Bb fingerings and get yourself a second-hand C trumpet for use in those groups you participate in now. In the long run, it's much easier and cheaper.
  7. graysono

    graysono Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 22, 2007
    Hyde Park, Utah
    I'll probably ruffle someone's feathers when I make the following proclamations: 1. The most common trumpet is the Bb trumpet; ergo, all other trumpets are less common including the C trumpet. 2. Learn the most common first; specialize later. 3. For those who will do classical trumpet work the second horn acquired is often a C trumpet (or maybe a piccolo trumpet). For those not doing classical work the second acquisition is either a flugelhorn or a cornet. The latter horns are typically in Bb. Best bet: learn the Bb horns first, since they are all fingered the same way and cover a broad range of settings. As above, it doesn't take long to learn to transpose one step from Bb to C tuning on the fly.

    Oh yeah: Welcome to TM. A good first post.
  8. BigDub

    BigDub Fortissimo User

    Dec 19, 2009
    Hillsborough, NJ
    I second that- welcome and good question.
    I would add or reiterate that you should learn all the Bb fingerings well, then transpose the C (concert pitch) music up one step. You get used to it pretty quickly and it becomes second nature. Just remember to add the two sharps if it's in c or any key with sharps, or subtract two flats if the key has flats. If there's only one flat, take that away and add the one sharp. As in: if it's in the key of F you'd be playing in the key of G, with one sharp.
  9. Branson

    Branson Piano User

    Jan 16, 2011
    Here's one that will bend your mind.

    When I read trombone music on my Bb trumpet, I transpose down a fifth, change the key and transpose up an octave.

    After doing all that, you might think that using a C trumpet doesn't sound so bad.
  10. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    Learn to play it right, just in case you continue on with trumpet. Learning to transpose for concert key scores isn't that hard.

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