Did you know that brass instruments have been around since the 15th century?
The fact that they’re still being used today is a testament to the quality of sound that brass instruments can produce. They’re also one of the easier families of instruments to learn, even for younger budding musicians.
If you’re thinking about learning a brass instrument, you may be wondering which is the easiest to pick up.
Read on as we take a look at some of the best brass instruments you can learn.
The trumpet is arguably the easiest brass instrument to learn to play, although not necessarily the easiest to master.
The beauty of the trumpet is that it is comparatively small, so is an ideal instrument for smaller hands. Many children will take up the trumpet as the first musical instrument, although they may progress onto other brass instruments as they grow.
The beauty of the trumpet, as with many of the instruments on this list, as that to be able to play it, you only need to learn two things; how to make a sound, and how to press down the valves to make specific notes.
Making a sound is much easier to pick up than with some instruments such as the flute or the clarinet, and with only three valves to play with, it doesn’t take too long to learn the basic notes, too.
Possibly the most popular of all the brass instruments is the cornet.
This is one of the best brass instruments for beginners simply because it is relatively cheap, small, and light. It’s very similar to the trumpet, and the skills you learn on the cornet can be transferred to the trumpet. The fingering is exactly the same, so once you know the notes on the cornet, you know them on the trumpet too.
The mouthpiece on the cornet is a little deeper, which can make it slightly harder to play. It’s still an ideal instrument to learn on, however.
3. Alto Horn
The alto horn is a great instrument for those who struggle with the relatively narrow mouthpieces that trumpets and cornets have.
The alto horn is a slightly larger instrument, but still small enough to make it a good starter instrument even for younger players. Unlike the trumpet and cornet, where the majority of the instrument must be supported vertically, the alto horn is cradled, so it’s less work on the arms. In treble clef, the same fingerings apply as for the first two instruments in this list.
The slightly larger mouthpiece doesn’t require the same tight embouchure that the cornet or trumpet needs.
One of the benefits of learning a brass instrument is that, as we have already seen, many of the instruments use the same fingerings. That means once you’ve learned on one instrument, you can easily move to another.
The trombone is one instrument where this isn’t the case. Instead of using valves to create the different notes, on the trombone, you position the slider in different positions. Unlike with valves, which will always produce the same pitch, it’s easy to slightly miss the mark and be a little out of tune with the trombone, so it requires more of a musical ear.
The mouthpiece is much larger than a trumpet or cornet, so it’s a good choice for those who find a tight embouchure challenging. The trombone isn’t ideal for the youngest students, as the 7th position requires a reasonably long arm to reach.
The euphonium is a step up in size from some of the other instruments listed above, so whilst it’s a good beginner’s instrument, it’s less suitable for younger children.
There are two types of euphonium available; three valve and four valve. The same fingerings will work on both, but alternate fingerings on the four valve version can make tuning a little more accurate. Obviously, this makes things a little more complex, with an additional valve to think about.
The larger mouthpiece makes it less demanding to play in the lower ranges. Since it’s a larger instrument, it’s less easy to carry around.
The tuba is another step up in size again. For a small child, this would be a serious challenge to try to lug around. When playing, however, the instrument rests in your lap, so it’s not too tiring to play.
The tuba has a large mouthpiece, so you don’t need a tight embouchure to play it. Its large size means that you need to put a decent amount of puff through it, but it’s not beyond the realms of most learners. One of the upsides of playing the tuba in a group is that most tuba parts are fairly simple, meaning you can be a useful part of a group even when you’re relatively new to the instrument.
If you like the idea of playing in a group, then brass lessons are a good place to start. You can find a local music teacher, or many sites such as https://sloanschoolofmusic.com/lessons/brass/ will also offer virtual lessons, too.
7. French Horn
The French horn is probably the hardest brass instrument on this list to learn.
Whilst similar to other instruments, you’ll need to learn new fingering for the French horn if you’re coming from something like the trumpet. It’s also more challenging to use your embouchure to hit the right intended note, especially when first learning; it requires more control than some of the other brass instruments on this list.
Once you get the hang of it, however, the French horn is a beautiful sounding instrument and is relatively easy to carry around with you.
Are You Thinking About Learning One of These Brass Instruments?
If you’re thinking about learning an instrument, then one of the brass instruments above would make an excellent choice.
The beauty of brass instruments is that they provide everything you need to start making music. You don’t need additional power or extra equipment such as strings, bows, or reeds. You just pick it up and you can play. The smaller brass instruments are also easy to transport too, although the same can’t be said of the tuba!
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