Choosing an Instrument – A Practical Guide (Brass Edition)

Perhaps singing isn’t for you? Or you feel your child is too young to start formal singing lessons? Maybe you just want to explore all your musical options? The first and most important reason for learning an instrument should be that you want to learn it, but even then, it’s good to think about practicalities too. Here’s some ups and downs of your brass instrument choices to help you out:

Brass-instrumentsBrass in general

+ Wide range of styles
+ Less popular than other woodwind, and so more opportunities for collaboration
+ Less ‘mechanical’ than other woodwind as they’re essentially just a tube
– Difficult to get to the stage of really playing melodies
– Fingering on all instruments is difficult
– Can be quite grim due to all the spit
– All are very expensive


TrumpetTrumpet – The highest pitched brass instrument, the trumpet can be heard everywhere from the Messiah to sounding the Last Post

+ Regularly gets to play the tune so a great selection of music
+ At the cheaper end of brass instruments at around £200-300
+ Can be used with a mute for practicing so less awful for the neighbours
– Very difficult to get going as a beginner
– Loudest instrument in the orchestra requiring accuracy and control
– Transposing instrument


Trombone – For the more adventurous, the trombone uses a slider to change pitch.

+ It slides in a way the vast majority of instruments just can’t.
+ Not a transposing instrument
+ cheaper than other brass instruments at £200-£300
o Uses bass clef
– Much larger than some other brass instruments, awkward to carry, and gets in the way of the music/other instruments/everything when playing
– Not a very interesting role in orchestras – lots of 80 bars rest…


French HornFrench Horn – Works in a similar fashion to the trumpet, but not as high in pitch. Usually provides orchestral harmony.

+ unusual instrument, so in demand for group music
+ also offers a wide range of styles, though limited solo music
– often very dull in orchestral music
– limited solo repertoire
– transposing instrument
– not cheap at all, cost is easily £500 upwards


Tuba

Tuba – the big Daddy of the brass instruments, with a sound that could probably cause a mild earthquake

+ hardly anyone plays
+ not a transposing instrument
o uses bass clef
– very expensive, costing around £1000 plus
– very little solo music, and usually very dull bass parts or long rest periods


 

So there you have it, a quick run down of the main members of the brass family. There are, of course, many other options which include the didgeridoo, and the cornet, but most other brass instruments are very similar to one or more of the above.

Still confused? Click some of the links below for more options, or have a look at this handy flowchart from Sinfini Music.

[Woodwind] ♦ [Strings] ♦ [Other] ♦ [Why take singing lessons?]

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