Decisions, Decisions! Choosing a Brass Instrument
Upon 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.