How do String Instruments Work?

When starting band there is lots of information about the different wind instruments but not the string instruments. So, what are the different string instruments? For the longest time I had no idea. Their structure and mechanics are so similar it can be hard to tell them apart. I have a friend that told me a story about how their step dad thought all string instruments were called guitars, which is not true. I’m Hannah Kerchner, founder of Hannah’s Musical Hope and I’m here to instruct you on the basics of string instruments.

Have you ever had a rubber band pulled really tight and when you pull the tightened band is makes a cool vibrating sound? By doing this you are demonstrating the basics of a string instrument. A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by vibrating strings. Some instruments such as a violin uses bows which are generally made of horsehair. The bows are moved across the strings to make notes. Other string instruments produce sound by plucking the individual strings with a pick or with your fingers.

The most common string instruments used by individuals and in orchestras are violins, violas, cellos, bass, and guitars. Guitars, and bass specifically can be played acoustically which means the sound comes solely from the vibrations on the instrument or electrically with an amp. String instruments vary a lot but all have the same general concept.

String instruments are used by a large variety of musicians and in a large variation of music styles. The most common place string instruments are seen is in an orchestra. Outside of the orchestra guitars are used in rock bands, mariachi bands, show bands, and individually. The bass, like the guitar, is also seen in many different bands. The string bass is used in orchestra, and jazz bands and bass guitars are used in rock and show bands. If you play a string instrument orchestra isn’t the only place you have to go, there is a variety of settings you can play in.

String instruments are a lot different than wind instruments. Rather than sound being produced by airflow it’s produced by vibrating strings. No matter what instrument you decide to play it’s good to be informed. If you have any questions about specific string instruments, or what they are feel free to comment below. If you have any advice or expertise you’d like to share or a story about your instrument feel free to comment below! We look forward to hearing from you! “You are the music while the music lasts!” -T.S Eliot Happy playing!

So many it’s hard! Woodwind instruments!

As someone just learning music terminology you may be overwhelmed and simply want the simple questions answered such as “What are the different woodwind instruments?” I, a representative of Hannah’s Musical Hope, know I felt overwhelmed when starting out. The three main kinds of woodwinds are flute, clarinet, and saxophone. These three main kinds have more specific types as well, but all are very similar.

There are other kinds of woodwinds as well such as the bassoon and oboe, but they are more complicated to learn. I wouldn’t recommend for a beginner, they use a double reed, a with two layers of wood, and is played differently than a singular reed. The alto saxophone is the most common starter saxophone, but some start off on tenor. B flat clarinet is what I would recommend for beginners, and a flute in the key of C is recommended for beginners. After you start out with one of these you can expand and try things such as baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, or piccolo, which is a smaller version of the flute.

Flutes are the most common exception to general facts about woodwinds. They are very unique, but still have always been considered woodwinds. Flutes used to be made of wood; however, now they are made of metal. Reeds, and keys are the easiest ways to identify an instrument as woodwind, brass instruments typically have valves or slides.

All woodwinds have keys, small buttons pressed to change the pitch of the sound. These are what allows different notes to be played. A series of keys being pressed down will make one specific note. This is different than other instruments, such as brass. When playing a brass instrument, a musician can press down a valve and make several different notes depending on how they shape their mouth. This can be very complicated to get the hang of; you have to be able to identify which note you are playing and change it to your desired note. Woodwinds do not have this option, one key or series of keys can only make one note.

The general shape of woodwinds is similar, a flute is like a sideways clarinet, and a saxophone is like a curved clarinet. All of these instruments have the same basic design, a long instrument covered in what seems like randomly placed keys. I can assure you that these keys are not randomly placed. They are designed so you can easily hold the instrument. Your right hand will always be farthest from you. When you first pick up any new instrument it will feel uncomfortable to hold, it will feel awkward and you won’t be sure where to put your hands. Once you get past this phase, picking it up and putting your fingers on the correct keys will come naturally. Learning a new kind of instrument for the first time will always be rough, weather it’s brass, percussion, strings, or woodwind.

If you have any more questions about kinds or types of instruments please comment. If you want to add anything, or leave any thoughts please comment as well. “You are the music while the music lasts,” -T.S. Eliot. Happy playing!

Beginning as a Drummer!

Many children have the dream to become a drummer, some more than others. If you have a child that wants to be a drummer that is great! New to the drumming world you may ask, how do I prepare my child to become a drummer? I am Hannah Kerchner, founder of Hannah’s Musical Hope and I am here to tell you exactly what needs to happen!

The most important thing to do for your child is to sign them up for lessons. When they are first starting into the world of music the best place to start is with piano. In most schools to be a percussionist you have to have had piano lessons. Drum music is different than piano music so once your child has been in piano lessons for awhile and they seem committed sign them up for private drumming lessons and help them achieve their goals. The worst thing you can do is to let them teach themselves because so many things can go wrong. Lessons will help them develop their skills properly.

When they begin learning to drum get them the right tools. It may be expensive but having the right tools will help your child grow their passion in music and develop their skills. When they are first starting it may be acceptable to just buy them a snare drum, drum sticks, and a music stand. Later on they will need more lesson books and eventually an entire drum set.

As annoying as drums can be let your child practice. A drummer, like many musicians love what they do and not practicing can frustrate them. If you allow them to practice, their skills will grow rapidly and they will get better and better everyday. Rather than complaining about it be sure to encourage them. If you complain they may feel bad and quit their new found passion.

Drumming is music, and just because your child is a drummer it doesn’t mean they will be a drug addict. It is important to support your child through their musical endeavors, no matter what instrument they choose. If you have any questions about how to prepare your child to become a drummer please feel free to comment below! If you have any tips or stories you would like to share we would love to hear from you! “You are the music while the music lasts!”~T.S. Eliot Happy playing!

Hannah’s Musical Hope – Making a Mark on the World


Since I founded Hannah’s musical hope, I have been fortunate enough to meet some really amazing people. Last summer, I talked about HMH with Mr. Devin Thorpe of Your Mark on the World Center when my mom and I were in Dallas working on plans for Hannah’s Musical Hope & my mom’s own venture, Avalo Health at an event called, “Focus on Impact,” with our mentor and friend, Wendy Lipton-Dibner. Devin was kind enough to invite us to be on his show which will be live on 10/26/2016 here: Mother and Daughter Social entrepreneurs March to their Own Tunes.

I hope you will check out the article & tune in to watch mom & I talk to Devin about what in the world we are doing to make an impact. Simply click on the link and find us there at 3:50 Eastern Time (2:50 Central) on 10/26/2016! If you miss the live show, you can still read about our talk with Devin at the same link.


♬Keep the Music Playing!♬

Decisions, Decisions! Choosing a Brass Instrument

img_7152Upon entering the world of music may find you in a situation where you feel like your brain might explode with all the new information. One of the many questions I receive includes: what are the different types of brass instruments?

I’m Hannah Kerchner, founder of Hannah’s Musical Hope and I’m here to help you begin your journey in music. When it comes to playing brass, I can help you out.


First you have to understand what makes a brass instrument. A wind instrument is an instrument that requires you to blow air through a mouthpiece to make a sound. A brass instrument is a wind instrument made of brass, and brass is made of zinc and copper. Brass instruments can also be distinguished by their mouthpiece which is round, made of metal and has a cup shape.

For the most part all brass instruments have the same general design. They all have a bell at the end which projects sound. They also have a series of tubes for the sound to travel through. Brass instruments commonly have a valve system to change the notes though some, like trombones, use only slides.


The most common brass instruments include trumpet, trombone, tuba, baritone, and french horn. Less well-known brass instruments in bands include flugelhorn, soprano trombone, piccolo trumpet, euphonium, and sousaphone. Another variation you may see as a beginner is cornet. A cornet works the same as a trumpet but is a little smaller.


Of the above list of brass instruments trumpet, trombone, tuba, and baritone are the best for beginner musicians. French horn is a cool instrument, but without any earlier music knowledge it may be a bit more challenging. There are many factors that come into play when learning a French Horn so it becomes far more difficult than learning music needs when starting out. If your aspire to play French Horn someday, starting out on a trumpet or cornet is a good idea, since the fingerings used to play notes are the same on these instruments.

Brass instruments came onto the scene hundreds of years ago. Trumpets are the oldest played, since 1500 B.C., and are the inspiration for all other brass instruments. The trombone was initially made as a modified trumpet. Rather than changing the notes with valves, a slide was added. The slide of the trombone gives us the original name, sackbut, meaning “push-pull,” in French. Tubas were also inspired by the trumpet, the word tuba actually means trumpet in Latin.


Brass instruments are fun to play and fun to learn. I know from experience. On the outside they might look complicated but once you get the hang of it, brass instruments open up opportunities to explore and play musical styles including concert, orchestra, marching band, drum & bugle corps, and of course, jazz. If you have any questions about what a brass instrument is, where to buy one, or a question specifically about your instrument feel free to comment below. If you have any tips about brass instruments or stories about your instrument please leave us a comment!

“You are the music while the music lasts!” -T.S. Eliot Happy playing!

Hannah’s Musical Hope now has trombones and trumpets available to students hoping to learn. Individuals or band directors, contact us today for more information on how you can qualify to own or borrow a HMH instrument.

What is the best musical instrument for a beginner musician?

Music is the strongest form of magic. -Marilyn Manson

Music is the strongest form of magic. -Marilyn Manson

A common question people have is, “What is the best musical instrument for beginners?” Whether for you or your child, this is a common question and if you asking, you are not alone. Because music is an important part of our culture and lives, the pressure to choose the right instrument can lead to anxiety. Instruments are often expensive, so fear of making the wrong decision may lead people to avoid starting out at all. However, music can bring life-long joy to children and families, so while the decision is an important one, it is one that is well worth the time, investment, and effort.

If you are a parent, you may fear that you will make a mistake in choosing and your child won’t want to continue in music. Early on, it is important to remember that the first instrument is an introduction to music for you or your child. The first instrument represents the beginning of what may become a lifetime of joy, whether as a hobby or pastime, or even a potential career.

A common place to start in music is with the piano. The piano is an instrument that can open up a world of music and lead to easier understanding of other instruments later on. Because learning the piano teaches the student not only how to play an instrument, but also how music works with combinations of notes, scales, chords, melodies, and harmonies. The piano makes a perfect introduction into the world of instrumental music.

Piano keys
Piano lessons are available in most communities. A quick search online or conversation with local music teachers, churches, or art venues may help you find what you are looking for. If you do not own a piano, starter pianos are often available at low-cost or even free. Check online auctions or sales sites, which often have pianos listed. If you are local, HMH can help you find a piano. Just contact us here. No space for a piano? An electric keyboard takes up little space and is a good place to start practicing.

Lessons, recitals, and competitions in piano offer opportunities for the beginning musician to perform, meet new people, and expand musical abilities. Many communities offer performance venues that are enjoyable without the pressure of competition. As budding musicians grow they can start performing more often and in higher places.

Piano also gives a beginning musician the opportunity to learn to play every style of music. Piano can teach all aspects of reading music, as well. While most instruments only teach some aspects of reading music, piano teaches all. Piano performs in every major genre, so it teaches appreciation of jazz, pop, classical, and many other styles of music. Students of all ages can learn piano including those who are too young to learn horns. Once the basics of piano are mastered, learning other instruments is much simpler. Any student who has an interest in playing drums someday will need to first learn the basics of piano.

The feeling that arises when playing music is like no other. It is simply indescribable. Piano is a way to experience this feeling, allowing creativity to flow and also acts as an emotional outlet. Piano is an amazing entry into the world of music.

Man and young boy playing piano and smilingIf you have any questions, thoughts, or something to add to the conversation please leave a comment. I would love to hear your experiences with the beginning of your musical journey, including experiences with piano.  

“You are the music while the music lasts,” -T.S. Eliot. Happy playing!

How to Choose a Musical Instrument & Keep the Music Playing

Letting your child make the final decision is important

Letting your child make the final decision is important

A common question many parents have is; How do I help my child choose their first instrument?

Choosing the first instrument can be both an exciting and a scary time. You may have no idea what you’re doing but at the same time you are opening up the world of music for your child.

At this point in their life your child probably doesn’t know what instrument they want to play either, I know I didn’t! I tried a bunch of different instruments before I found the right one, and now that I have, I play my trumpet all the time.

I am Hannah Kerchner, founder of Hannah’s Musical Hope and I’m going to help you on your way to find the perfect instrument.

The best way to find the right fit is to talk to a school band director or visit a local music store. Once you find and expert who can help, allow your child to try a variety of instruments.

Not everyone can play every type of instrument. There are people that can’t make the smallest sound out of a trumpet, but can play a saxophone, and vice versa. The shape of the mouth, finger size, and genetics all play a role. Knowing what instruments others in the family have played successfully may tip you in the right direction. Trying all of the instruments is also an exciting way for children to ignite their passion and get excited about starting something new.

Once your child figures out which instruments they can play, listen to their preferences, and when it comes time to make a decision let your child choose what they play.

Parental permission form

Parental permission form

It can be hard to allow your child to play an instrument you dislike, but if you force a child to play an instrument they dislike they will be more likely to quit.

Whatever they choose don’t let the cost scare you away. The fact is that instruments are expensive. However, you have to remember there are options. There are programs that can help you purchase the instrument with monthly payments, ways to rent and instrument and if need be, to have an instrument donated to your child.

Thanks Mom & Dad!

Thanks Mom & Dad!

Choosing the first instrument is a big deal and can determine a lot for your child’s future. If you have any questions about choosing the right instrument, finding a music store, what to ask the band director, or anything else please feel free to leave a comment below. If you have any advice you’d like to give or if you want to share how you found your first instrument comment below, we would love to hear from you!

Happy playing!

– Hannah

“You are the music while the music lasts!” -T.S. Eliot.

What We Do


At Hannah’s Musical Hope we are working to Keep The Music Playing!

We collect, fix, and donate musical instruments so that every kid can be in band.

We also promote #leadership & #socialresponsibility in our community.

We are run by kids. Someday, we hope to grow the #music programs and #youth #leadership in your community, too.

Hannah’s Musical Hope is a certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2015.

Meet our founder, Hannah. Without her passion for helping other kids find music, we would not be doing what we do.

Founder Hannah & Youth Board VP Cece

Founder Hannah & Youth Board VP Cece work @ play @ work

What’s the big deal?

When kids learn to play an instrument not only do they rock, but other things start to happen, too.

Things like:

• Better grades & Higher test scores: 22% higher in English & 20% higher in math
• Improved attendance & fewer drop-outs
• Higher self-esteem & less depression

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HMH 2016/2017 Youth Advisory Board

HMH 2016/2017 Youth Advisory Board

Fine arts #education budgets are being cut and the number of low income households is on the rise.
This means not all students are given the opportunity to participate in #music programs like band.
Hannah says, “That’s just not cool.”

According to the latest census,
44% of the United States households are low income (less than $47,248/year) or living below the poverty line (less than $23,624/year).
Things seem to be getting worse instead of better.

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2016 HMH Talent Show #RisingStar

2016 HMH Talent Show #RisingStar

Kids may not be able to afford things like joining band.
Stars cannot rise if they aren’t given a chance to shine.

Budget cuts in schools, particularly in #art and #music departments are a growing problem.
Without funding, schools can’t afford to continue their music programs.

Schools cut the amount of money teachers need to support their programs or worse, eliminate music programs completely, like they did in Atlanta, GA.

• • • • • • • •

What many school administrators do not seem to understand is that when they cut music from the curriculum, they decrease kids chances to excel in math & reading.



It was like that time Hannah’s superintendent told her, “band doesn’t have homework.”

(Just ask Hannah’s younger sister if #band has #homework.)

Music makes these connections in a child’s developing brain. My mom says it’s called #neuroplasticity
It is something that makes it easier for kids to succeed in school and throughout life.

Music uses all parts of the brain allowing it to develop spatially, emotionally, and mentally.
Just like learning a language, learning music is easier for kids than adults, so starting young is really important.

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So we think it’s a pretty big deal to Keep the Music Playing.

We know musical instruments are expensive, and a big reason kids are not in band.

That’s why we’re recycling all the ones sitting in attics & closets across the country.

We refurbish them and get them to kids & schools who need them.

Check out our instrument inventory, and grab an application.

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Dance Party Finale HMH Talent 2016

Dance Party Finale HMH Talent 2016

You probably want to follow us on social media too, because we post some cool stuff.

Help Hannah #KeepTheMusicPlaying