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Choosing Your First Brass Instrument

2018-10-15

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

Like other instrument families there are some limitations to how early a child can start learning.  Due to the amount of pressure that is put on to the front of the mouth, it is recommended that you shouldn’t start until your adult (or permanent) front teeth have come through, often between 6-7 years of age.

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 due to its smaller size.

The Older Beginner

For the older beginners where the above isn’t appropriate, 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 trumpet a go!  As a trumpeter I’m a little biased, but they’re all great fun to play and have their own roles in any orchestra, brass band or any other style such as jazz, pop etc.  Within a brass or wind band, for example, the higher register instruments often play the melody, while lower register instruments although do get the chance to play the melody they often play (and very importantly) the bass parts and other harmonies in between.

Although we’re happy to help and advise you on choosing the right instrument, the decision is yours!  Once you’ve decided, we can run through the options that we offer for all budgets and suitability.  Like other instrument families, there are instruments designed specifically for the beginner 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 regular Instrument Try-out Days, which we hold throughout the year (see our Events page for further details and dates).   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) with an option to purchase at the end of the minimum rental period.

With a minimum rental period of only 3 months on brass instruments, it is possible and relatively inexpensive to try one instrument then give another a go if this hasn’t worked out for you.

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

Trumpet

              

Cornet * (similar register to Trumpet)     

Flugel Horn

     

French Horn

Eb Horn (or Tenor Horn)

Bb Baritone Horn

Euphonium

Tenor Trombone *

Bass Trombone

Eb Tuba

Bb Tuba

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