Episode 6: Playing Trumpet with Rachel Doolittle


If you have any questions about how to teach trumpet, you are in luck! Today we are talking trumpet with trumpet extraordinaire, Rachel Doolittle, who is sharing so many tips to teach students how to play trumpet and her experience playing trumpet. Whether you teach beginners or high schoolers, she has practical exercises and advice to help you and your trumpet players. 

Rachel has been playing trumpet since she was six, yes six, years old. Today, she is sharing her expertise and experience with us. She is sharing her musical background, how to start a student with no experience on their instrument, tips on how and when to use different exercises for trumpet players, what order she suggests teaching notes in for trumpet, what she suggests doing to expand more advanced students’ range, and how to improve lyrical playing for a middle or high school trumpet player. This episode is packed with amazing information and you’re sure to pick up some amazing tips to use with your trumpet players! 

Rachel Doolittle has played trumpet for 20 years, starting when she was six years old. Rachel performed in the Northgate High School wind ensemble and jazz band in Walnut Creek, and was awarded the John Philip Sousa Band Award in 2012. She also performed in the Blue Devils C, B, and A corps. At UC Davis, Rachel played in the symphony orchestra and lead trumpet in the top Jazz Band. Her teaching experience began giving private trumpet lessons between 2015-2019 in Davis, Walnut Creek, and Concord. From 2017-2020, she performed in jazz bands in the bay area, including the Montclair Women’s Big Band and Mary Lou’s Apartment, now called Melba’s Kitchen. During that time, Rachel instructed high school marching band at Foothill High School and Amador Valley High School in 2017 and 2018, as well as teaching brass at the Blue Devils B and C corps from 2018-2020. She currently plays in the Coastal Communities Concert Band in Encinitas and is starting her professional teaching career.

If you’re looking for a resource to help get your beginner students playing their first notes, chek out The Quarter Note Companion Pre-Method Book. This book is perfect for preparing your students for method book success. It helps take your student from the first day of band to playing five notes with correct posture and embouchure. It contains 20 lessons with step by step instructions, visuals, and videos! 

We would love to hear from you! What tip from Rachel are you going to try with your trumpet players? Head to our website and send us a message or connect with us on Instagram.

In this episode we cover:

  • Rachel’s musical background and what it was like starting trumpet at age 6
  • Rachel’s tips for where to start with a student who has no experience with their instrument
  • Recommendations for buzzing exercises and what to do if they don’t work
  • What order you should teach notes in for trumpet
  • Suggestions for helping students who naturally play high
  • What exercises help with expanding the range of more advanced players
  • What you should be looking for when doing pitch bends
  • How to help your middle and high school trumpet players improve their lyrical playing

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More about The First Six Notes with Classroom Composers

The First Six Notes Podcast with Classroom Composers is for band teachers and string teachers looking for great information from experienced teachers. 

Every other week, we’ll dive into everything about teaching band and string music students. We’re covering everything from pedagogy to fundraising and interviewing successful music teachers, composers, admin, professional private studio teachers, and more to uncover and share their strategies for musical success. 

Classroom Composers is a married team of two music teachers, Kevin Hoff and Jessica Frank. Between the two of us, we have experience teaching K-6 general music, elementary 4/5 band/strings, and middle school band/strings/guitar who want to share our knowledge and experience with other teachers.

Grab a chair and stand and join the conversation!