Choosing a Musical Instrument On your Child - A Parents' Self-help guide to Brass

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Many people find themselves thrown into the realm of musical instruments they know nothing about when their children first begin music in class. Knowing the basics of proper instrument construction, materials, picking a good store in order to rent or buy these instruments is extremely important. Just what exactly process should a dad or mom follow to make the best choices for their child?

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Clearly step one is to choose a musical instrument. Let your child get their choice. Kids don't make very many big decisions regarding their life, and this is a large one that can be very empowering. I'm also able to say from personal experience that children have a natural intuition in what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is to put a child into a room to try only 3-5 different choices, and permit them to make their choice in line with the sound they like best.

This post is intended to broaden your horizons, not to create a preference, or to put you in a position to nit-pick inside the store! Most instruments can be extremely well made these days, and selecting a respected retailer will assist you to trust recommendations. Ask your school and/or private music teacher best places to shop.

Brass instruments are produced all over the world, but primarily in the us, Germany, France, and China. If we talk about brass instruments, we're referring to members of the Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, and Tuba families.


There are 2 basic kinds of materials found in brass instrument construction. The foremost is clearly brass, as well as the second is nickel-silver.

Brass employed for instruments is available in three types:
Yellow Brass (70% Copper, 30% Zinc)
Gold Brass (85% Copper, 15% Zinc)
Red Brass (90% Copper, 10% Zinc)

Most of these brass are all useful for instrument construction. Each also has a certain tendency perfectly into a particular quality of sound - however this is a very subtle distinction, and should not be used as an exclusive gauge for picking your instrument.

Yellow brass is most typical and can be used for most areas of your instrument. It provides a very pure quality of sound, projects best of the three alloys, and holds up very well at high volumes.

(Gold brass can also be extremely popular, mainly because slightly more complex audio quality, and personal feedback. Often a player hears themselves just a little better using gold brass, nevertheless the trade off is a very slight decrease in projection. This more 'complex' quality is incredibly attractive to the ear, but could get harsh at high volumes in the event the player is not in command of all of their technique. It is similar to the transition to screaming from singing - there exists a point at which you can easily get carried away. Gold Brass sits dormant for the whole instrument (in The united states, but a lot in Europe). We primarily utilize it for the bell (the location where the sound comes out), along with the leadpipe (the first stretch of tubing in your instrument). The leadpipe usage is becoming common for student instruments, mainly because it resists corrosion well, that is a concern for teenagers whose body is volatile, as well as for students who rarely clean their instruments.

Does of Red brass. This is the very complex sound, generally not used in student instruments. Red brass appears almost exclusively within the bell of an instrument. This is due to its less stable nature in sound production at loud volumes. That being said, it can produce a marvelous sound when healthy against the rest of a well designed instrument. An illustration is the famous 88H Symphonic Trombone, that has been a staple of the north american niche for over 60 years.

The other material that is used to make brass instruments is nickel-silver. Interestingly, there isn't any actual silver in this material. Most often it is a combination of Copper, Nickel, and Zinc, in varying combinations. I prefer to think of it as brass with nickel added. Its name hails from its physical resemblance to silver, which makes it ideal for things like brass instruments, and the coins you probably have in the bank.

This is a very important part of your instrument. Unlike brass, it is usually very hard. This makes it suitable for use on instruments to:

Protect moving parts
Join two tubes along with a ring (called a ferrule)
Wear parts of the instrument that can come into a lot of experience of the hands to protect against friction wear in the hands.
Companies use nickel silver in various ways, and on differing of the instrument. These construction facts are minimal, but here are several suggestions to look for that can help the stability and strength of student instruments:
o The outsides of tuning slides. This really is good, because it protects parts that frequently need to be moved from damage.
o The lining tubes of tuning slides. Perfect for student instruments (and common on european instruments), this protects against corrosion.
o Joint between tubes. When used as a ferrule, this can be a selection of shapes and sizes, at the discretion from the designer. Sometimes the interior of the ferrule is regulated to alter shape (taper) to a larger consecutive tube. Some very basic student instruments just fit expanded ends of brass tubing together.
o Parts how the hands touch. Brass is definitely eaten away, albeit slowly, by normal body, so a student instrument that has these areas in nickel-silver is definitely an asset for longevity. There are exceptions to this rule, particularly for Trumpets, whose valve casings are often made of brass alone.


Mouthpieces for brass are often referred to as 'cup' mouthpieces, and they are made of brass, but plated in silver. Brass on its own can cause irritation, and is mildly toxic to stay such close proximity for the lips, whereas silver is generally neutral. There are cases by which some people are allergic to silver, most often the allergy is because a dirty mouthpiece. The recommended test just for this is to use an alcohol based spray cleaner, from the music retailer that's specifically intended for mouthpieces, and to clean the mouthpiece before each use. This may be beneficial, anyway. If the irritation persists, consider a gold-plated mouthpiece, or as a last resort, plastic. Note additionally that not all companies include a good quality mouthpiece making use of their instruments. Be sure to seek advice from your retailer to ensure what you are getting is exactly what you should be using for your student.

As with instruments, mouthpieces comes in a dizzying array of shapes and specifications. Issues that you have never heard of, for example Rim, Throat, inner diametre, Backbore, etc., may confuse you.((To produce matters more complex, there isn't any standard system for identifying sizing in mouthpieces. This could be difficult for the parent to digest, as well as frustrating. How big or small if the various parts be?

Most often, schools start kids on small mouthpieces for the reason that it is easy to get a response away from them. The downside of the is that small mouthpieces can mean a very bright sound, which enable it to actually hold trainees back from developing the free blowing of air that's essential to developing a good sound. There's a generally accepted order of progression from bare beginner to solid student. I propose getting the second mouthpiece straight away. This will produce a bigger/fuller sound, and will encourage more air to be utilized right from the start. Don't let the numbers throw you here, the 2nd mouthpiece is the bigger one. The bracket indicating numerology may be the company that makes the mouthpiece, suggested here just for comparison.

Trumpet: 7C, 5C (Bach numerology - for strong players consider also 3C)
Horn: 30C4, 32C4 (Schilke or Yamaha numerology)
Trombone: 12C, 6┬ŻAL (Bach numerology - for strong players consider also 5GS)

We've got left Tuba off the suggested list because there are many factors that can come into play for the student. Physical size plays a part, and often the condition of the instrument being used, as well as the size of the instrument. These vary so greatly in one student to the next which a personal consultation using your qualified music retailer is strongly recommended. Kids generally start on the small mouthpiece (24AW is but one in the Bach numerology), such as the get off that but they should. There are a number of really excellent mouthpieces available, however it is hard to beat the Perantucci Mouthpieces. A PT48 or PT50 works well for the advancing student, along with the professional, but remember that as students grow and change, so may their mouthpiece needs.

As with instruments, it is a very good idea to try 3-5 at your local retailer.

When and for what reason can i not buy a new mouthpiece?
Kids often search for the short-cut. Not being able to play low or high enough is a challenge and quite often the kid looks for a quick answer, or has seen a colleague playing different things. Often, when your child approaches you of a new mouthpiece, it may very well be the time for it. Make sure to ask lots of questions regarding what they do and do not like regarding mouthpieces so you can find out from your retailer if this describes a good request. Make sure to know what they already have. The most effective changes to make are the subtle ones. Small variations a mouthpiece design may help get the desired result, and not sacrifice some or all the other areas of playing. The kids that make the big changes only to get high notes often pay the biggest price of their tone, tuning, and technique.

Other pursuits

For Trumpet, I recommend having 1st and 3rd valve slides with rings or saddles for quick. These are helpful for tuning.

For Trombone, for early beginners, a nickel-silver slide is a great idea, as slide repairs are costly.

For Horn, get a double horn. It is 4 valves, and offers much more choice to the player permanently tuning, and development down the road. Horn is tricky, so helping using this is a good endorsement of your child's chances.

For Tuba, try and get one that fits your child, and on which every part - including tuning slides - come in a state of good repair. Push the school if it is a good school instrument. If your child can handle a big instrument, buy one.

Brass instruments need consistent maintenance to work well. Be sure you know very well what lubricants to use on what parts of your instrument. Trumpet, a somewhat simple instrument, needs 3 different lubricants; tuning slide, 1st/3rd valve slide, and pistons. I strongly suggest synthetic lubricants. They will hold up slightly better against forgetful students that do not do the regular maintenance.

Cleaning. Once every 12-18 months have a very professional cleaning. Otherwise clean at home once a month using mild soap and lukewarm water (hot water will cause your lacquer to peel of your horn), and a flexible brush out of your retailer.

Avoid cheap instruments. With instruments you get what you buy. There are a lot of instruments originating from India and China now. Lots of people are excellent, while many others must not even have been made. Your local, respected dealer needs to have those that are reliable, and definately will stand behind them. Your big-box Costco, Wal-Mart, BestBuy, and e-Bay doesn't have expertise in these matters, and procedures for their bottom line only. Avoid these places. They won't possibly offer you the continuing assistance, service, or repair a developing and interested student will require. If you choose this route, obtain american-made instruments (and Japan). This can be a major separator of good from bad. Those who make brass in the us are generally very well trained and section of a history of excellent brass making, particularly those in the Conn-Selmer family of companies. Your neighborhood, trusted retailer will help to guide you in the choices available, and remember that just because it says USA, or Paris on it, does not mean it was made in these places. Manufacturers are now sometimes making these products part of the 'name' of the instrument.((How much should I spend?

That's the big question. Bear in mind that popular instruments, like Trumpet, are less costly because they are made in greater quantities. Some instruments, like Horn and Tuba, are challenging and time-consuming to create, making them more expensive. Below is a list of acceptable pricing (at the time that this is being written) for brand new student instruments that works for both American and Canadian currency.

Trumpet: $400-600
Horn: $1600 or higher (Get a double horn, or else you be back to buy another, soon!)
Trombone: $400-$700
Tuba: $2300 or more

When should I get a better instrument, and Why?

Six decades ago, there were no 'student' and 'intermediate' instruments. Manufacturers were just visiting the realization that there was an emerging, post-war market that was changing to guide a more commercial type of instrument making. Today, instruments are engineered to get you to buy three times. First when getting started, then as an advancing student, last but not least as a professional. Clearly, this is the model that makes a lot of money for manufacturers.

For the best reasons, I often encourage parents to begin with the better instrument, or perhaps a good used intermediate or professional instrument. Starting on better tools are like starting with that slightly larger mouthpiece; finding a bigger, better sound is encouraging. The greater construction and materials mixture of these better instruments will likely leave more room to cultivate. So what are the right reasons? This is a list that works not merely as guide for helping to choose the right instrument, but also for what you should watch for to assist musical growth:

-Going with a school with a strong music program.
-Getting private lessons, or has called for some. (Check with private teacher for recommendations before choosing, this will help.)
-Practicing without parental encouragement
-Has at least 4 years of playing before them.

These factors are perfect indicators of whether to buy, and if they should buy intermediate or professional. If your bulk of these are unclear, look at a rental for a year to find out if they get any clearer, and supplement with regular (weekly) private lessons.

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