Brass musical instruments are mostly made from an alloy of copper and zinc and make a sound when air is blown by the player through a metal mouthpiece into a metal tube. This metal tube is called a bore.
The vibration of the player’s lips causes a vibration of the air inside the instrument and this is what produces the unique sound of the different brass instruments.
There are various types of brass instruments and for someone who is looking to learn to play one of them, choosing the right one can be a difficult task.
Trumpets and cornets
These are by far the most popular of the brass instruments and they are played in both music bands (jazz, funk, pop, etc) and traditional orchestras. They have three valves and a cylindrical bore.
Cornets are smaller in size but produce the same range of notes as the trumpet. For a beginner, trumpets are an ideal choice since they are easy to learn, light to carry, and you will be able to progress on them quite quickly. They also give you many options for the style of music you can play with them.
The French horn found its place in the music of the classical orchestras of the 18th century and was also a part of the music produced by Mozart and Haydn. It has a much mellower and more distant sound than the trumpet.
It has twelve feet of tubing that culminates in a flared bell. It’s often used to fill in the middle of the brass sound. In a marching band, you would find French horn players playing the mellophone. The French horn doesn’t tend to be used for jazz, pop or funk.
A trombone generally does not have any valves unlike the other brass instruments used in the modern orchestra. Higher and lower pitches are produced with the help of a section of its tubing called the slide that the player moves in and out.
The range of the trombone is a bit lower than the trumpet, however, the trombone’s sound is less piercing. Trombones are common in orchestras and popular in jazz groups.
Baritone horn and euphonium
These instruments fall in the middle and low range of the brass family and are often used in bands. They are, however, less common in orchestras. Their range is the same as the trombone, however, due to their cylindrical shape, they produce an even mellower and sweet sound.
The baritone horn is neither too heavy nor too large to carry. The distinct feature of the euphonium, on the other hand, is that it has a wider bore and considering its large size, it produces quite a gentle sound.
A euphonium is a good instrument for a child to learn if the child has expressed an interest in the tuba, which is much bigger and heavier to carry.
This one is the largest of all the brass instruments and is also the lowest sounding of all. It is conical in shape and the sound produced by it is mellower and more distant than the other brass instruments.
Although it is quite large in size and difficult to handle, especially for children, it is quite popular since it plays the bass part in ensembles. For younger players, a sousaphone may be the right choice since it curls around the player with its bell resting on the left shoulder.
The sousaphone is also the instrument that is used in marching bands instead of the larger tuba.
Whether you chose to learn the trumpet or the large tuba, the choice will depend on your own personal musical preferences. If you are looking, to begin with, and easier instrument, trumpets may be your choice.
However, if you prefer the low-pitched sounds of the tuba and sousaphone, then you can go for these brass instruments. The choice may be any, however, keep in mind that learning any musical instrument requires commitment and hard work on the part of the student.