Choosing Your First Brass Instrument

Posted by Brittens Team on

Brass Instruments are great! Shiny, appealing and LOUD! But when should you start playing your trumpet or trombone? This article explains the pros and cons of this fabulous, versatile family of instruments.
Choosing your first brass instrument

What is a good age to start learning a brass instrument?

Most instruments have limitations as far as the age at which you can start playing is concerned. With something like a violin or guitar, there are smaller versions designed for tinies, and this means even the youngest child can get going. With brass, though, we suggest that the player has their adult (permanent) front teeth for at least a few months before they start to learn, so, usually around the age of 7 or 8. If they are younger and still have 'milk' teeth at the front, they will have a few months of struggle once these fall out and there is a gap to contend with. The front teeth aid the formation and production of the sound. Also the amount of pressure which the inexperienced player is likely to put on the lips can cause problems, as newly grown teeth take a little while to settle.


What is the right instrument to start on?

The Young Player

Due to the size and weight of some instruments not all are appropriate for the younger beginner. For instance, you’ll need long arms for the trombone slide! However, this isn’t essential when first starting off as notes in the furthest position on the slide (arms stretched!) wouldn’t normally be played until the player’s a little more advanced. Lower pitched brass instruments such as the euphonium or tuba are quite large and heavy, so again not recommended for younger beginners. Often, the cornet can be a good option to start on as little hands are able to hold the instrument more comfortably and nearer the body, due to its smaller size.

The Older Beginner

For older beginners where the above isn’t an issue, it’s up to you to decide - you may have a favourite artist that you’d like to try to emulate, or just always fancied giving the trombone a go! As a trombonist, I’m a little biased, but they’re all great fun to play and have their own roles in any orchestra, brass band, pop or jazz ensemble. In fact in any style! In a brass or wind band, for example, the higher register instruments (trumpet, cornet, horn) often play the melody, while lower register instruments do get the chance to play the melody, they often play (very importantly) the bass parts and other harmonies in between. The foundation of the band!

Although we’re happy to help and advise you on choosing the right instrument, the decision is yours! Once you’ve made up your mind, we can run through the options that we offer for all budgets and suitability. As with other instrument families, there are instruments designed specifically for the beginner (usually made to be easier to blow), through to the more advanced and professional. It’s not always advisable just to opt for the cheapest, as the instrument may not be quite right for the player, and they could struggle with it.

You may also like to come along to one of our Instrument Try-out Days, which we hold throughout the year (Subscribe to our Newsletter or see in-store for further details). On the day we have a large selection of instruments out for you to try, primarily so you can see which instrument or instrument type may be right for you. We will show you how to blow or pluck your first note, so no previous experience is necessary!

What happens if you or your child give up or want to change instrument?

For those unsure how long you or your child might continue with the instrument, we offer an affordable rental option on selected instruments (usually trumpet, cornet or trombone)

The Brass Family

The brass family consists of many different instruments covering high and low pitches, the most common being (in pitch order):


Yamaha Trumpet


(similar register to Trumpet)


French Horn

French Horn


Tenor Trombone





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