Why play natural trumpet ...

The natural trumpet is simply a tube with a mouthpiece at one and flaring out to a bell at the other end. As there are no mechanisms to enable chromaticism, the player is limited to playing only the notes of the harmonic series. This requires producing a very exact form and speed of air, making it even more precarious than playing a modern trumpet.

The only good reason to play a natural trumpet rather than a modern valved instrument is for the musical effect. A natural trumpet is twice the length of its modern counterpart, and when it is also made from hand-hammered metal and accompanied by a baroque style mouthpiece, lends itself to a wide range of sound colours – from a brassy low and middle range to a sweet sound in the high ‘clarino’ register. Balance issues problematic to modern chamber music ensembles and orchestras are solved with the natural instruments as the sound is not as focussed and has a wider range of overtones.

Playing the ‘right’ hardware, however is not a guarantee of authentic natural trumpet playing.

... and why study natural trumpet?

The secret to great natural trumpet playing is in the software – the approach to the repertoire. Baroque music in particular needs to be played rhetorically. Knowing what each section of music is saying – as if it is a language – informs the player what articulations to use, what colours to look for, what ornaments are appropriate and how to shape a phrase. This is only possible to learn by doing; playing in ensembles with well informed musicians, and by exploring and experimenting with the music, by applying knowledge from baroque treatises and trying out ideas from listening to other players (especially non-trumpeters!). For these reasons a trumpeter will gain expertise and confidence quickest by doing some form of formal or informal study of early music.


Formal study

Studying natural trumpet with Susan Williams formally – in a bachelor or masters program or as a contract student – can be done at one of two institutions.

The Royal Conservatoire The Hague has the largest early music department in the world and offers many opportunities to learn about early music and to perform in both chamber music and large-scale projects. Courses offered are often innovative and both students and staff are from all over the world. See www.koncon.nl/en


Design your own study

If you are already busy in professional life but want a more in depth experience and understanding of natural trumpet playing, it is possible to make your own study program depending on your own needs and time. Modules on offer include workshops, lessons, and even assignments and reading lists. You would have the opportunity to study and perform chamber music repertoire connected to the following themes:

  • Bach and Handel
  • Bohemian music
  • Trumpet and voice
  • Trumpet and strings
  • Trumpet with oboe band
  • Trumpet consort

For details contact info@susan-williams.com.

The University of the Arts, Bremen offers a traditional and rigorous study program for studying early music in a city rich with heritage and performing opportunities. See www.hfk-bremen.de/en


23-26 May 2018Stadpfeifer Workshop (Bremen)

23-26 May 2018
Stadpfeifer Workshop (Bremen)

The Bach-Gesellschaft Bremen is sponsoring a workshop for trumpeters, oboists and bassoon players with repertoire written for the Stadtpfeifer (town musicians) by Telemann, Bach and other German composers.

3-8 July 2018Clarincanto (Zutphen)

3-8 July 2018
Clarincanto (Zutphen)

As part of the Zutphen Summer Academy, a workshop celebrating the vocality of the natural trumpet will take place. Repertoire from Italy, Spain, Germany and England for voice and trumpet will be explored and performed.


10-14 July 2017Viva Vivaldi (Venice)

10-14 July 2017
Viva Vivaldi (Venice)

Baroque trumpeters can join this Summer Academy celebrating the music of Vivaldi, which takes place on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.