Choosing a Musical Instrument For Your Child - A Parents' Help guide Brass

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Many people end up thrown into the arena of musical instruments they know nothing about when their children first begin music at school. Knowing the basics of fine instrument construction, materials, deciding on a good store in which to rent or buy these instruments is extremely important. Just what exactly process should a parent or gaurdian follow to make the best options for their child?

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Clearly the initial step is to choose a guitar. Let your child get their choice. Kids don't make lots of big decisions regarding life, and this is a large one that can be very empowering. I'm also able to say from personal experience that kids have a natural intuition about what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is always to put a child in a room to try at most 3-5 different choices, and allow them make their choice based on the sound they like best.

These details are intended to broaden your horizons, not to create a preference, or to put you in a position to nit-pick in the store! Most instruments are really well made these days, picking a respected retailer will assist you to trust recommendations. Ask your school and/or private music teacher where you can shop.

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


There's 2 basic kinds of materials employed in brass instrument construction. You are clearly brass, along with the second is nickel-silver.

Brass useful 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)

These kinds of brass are all employed for instrument construction. Each also carries 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 selecting your instrument.

Yellow brass is most common and can be used for most aspects of your instrument. It possesses 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 of its slightly more complex audio quality, and personal feedback. Often a player hears themselves somewhat better using gold brass, though the trade off is a very slight decrease in projection. This more 'complex' quality is very attractive to the ear, but can get harsh at high volumes if the player is not in command of all of their technique. It is like the transition to screaming from singing - you will find there's point at which you can easily go too far. Gold Brass sits dormant for the whole instrument (in United states, but a lot in Europe). We primarily put it on for the bell (in which the sound comes out), and the leadpipe (the first stretch of tubing inside 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 chemistry is volatile, as well as students who rarely clean their instruments.

The same is true of Red brass. This is a very complex sound, generally not used in student instruments. Red brass appears almost exclusively inside the bell of an instrument. The reason is , 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 properly designed instrument. An example is the famous 88H Symphonic Trombone, that has been a staple of the north american marketplace for over 60 years.

The opposite material that is used to produce brass instruments is nickel-silver. Interestingly, there is no 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 comes from its physical resemblance to silver, that makes it ideal for things like brass instruments, along with the coins you probably have in your pocket.

This is a very important portion of your instrument. Unlike brass, it is often very hard. This makes it perfect for use on instruments to:

Protect moving parts
Join two tubes along with a ring (called a ferrule)
Placed on parts of the instrument which come into a lot of exposure to the hands to protect against friction wear from your hands.
Companies use nickel silver in numerous ways, and on parts of the instrument. These construction details are minimal, but here are a few suggestions to look for that can assist the stability and strength of student instruments:
o The outsides of tuning slides. This can be good, because it protects parts that often need to be moved from damage.
o The within tubes of tuning slides. Well suited 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 various shapes and sizes, at the discretion with the designer. Sometimes the interior of the ferrule is regulated to improve shape (taper) through to a larger consecutive tube. Some very basic student instruments just fit expanded ends of brass tubing together.
o Parts that this 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. You will find 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 are generally made of brass, but plated in silver. Brass by itself can cause irritation, and it is mildly toxic to be such close proximity for the lips, whereas silver is mainly neutral. There are cases through which some people are allergic to silver, but a majority of often the allergy is caused by a dirty mouthpiece. The recommended test just for this is to use an alcohol based spray cleaner, out of your music retailer that's specifically intended for mouthpieces, and to clean the mouthpiece pre and post each use. This may be beneficial, anyway. If the irritation persists, think about a gold-plated mouthpiece, or like a last resort, plastic. Note additionally that not all companies will include a good quality mouthpiece with their instruments. Be sure to seek advice from your retailer to make sure what you are getting 's what you should be using to your student.

As with instruments, mouthpieces come in a dizzying array of shapes and specifications. Stuff that you have never heard of, like Rim, Throat, inner diametre, Backbore, etc., may confuse you.((To generate matters more complex, there's no standard system for identifying sizing in mouthpieces. This could be difficult for the parent to digest, and even frustrating. How big or small should the various parts be?

Generally, schools start kids on small mouthpieces since it is easy to get a response from them. The downside of the is that small mouthpieces can translate to a very bright sound, and will actually hold each student back from developing the free blowing of air that is certainly essential to developing a good sound. There is a generally accepted order of progression from bare beginner to solid student. I recommend getting the second mouthpiece from the very beginning. This will produce a bigger/fuller sound, and definately will encourage more air to use right from the start. Don't let the numbers throw you here, the other mouthpiece is the bigger one. The bracket indicating numerology could be the company that makes the mouthpiece, suggested here limited to 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 now have left Tuba off the suggested list because there are many factors that come into play for the student. Physical size plays an element, and often the condition of the instrument getting used, as well as the size of the instrument. These vary so greatly from one student to the next a personal consultation along with your qualified music retailer is strongly recommended. Kids generally begin the small mouthpiece (24AW is one in the Bach numerology), try not to get off that even though they should. There are a number of really excellent mouthpieces available, but it is hard to beat the Perantucci Mouthpieces. A PT48 or PT50 helps with the advancing student, and also the professional, but remember that as students grow and alter, so may their mouthpiece needs.

Much like instruments, it is a excellent idea to try 3-5 at your local retailer.

When or for what reason should I not buy a new mouthpiece?
Kids often seek out the short-cut. Not being able to play low or high enough is a challenge and sometimes the kid looks for a quick answer, or has seen a colleague playing something else entirely. Often, when your child approaches you about a new mouthpiece, it may very well be the time for it. Make sure you ask lots of queries about what they do and do not like regarding mouthpieces so you can discover from your retailer if it is a good request. Ensure you know what they already have. The best changes to make include the subtle ones. Small differences in a mouthpiece design might help get the desired result, and not sacrifice some or all the areas of playing. Students that make the big changes just to get high notes often spend the money for 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 may be beneficial, as slide repairs cost a lot.

For Horn, get a double horn. This has 4 valves, and offers way more choice to the player permanently tuning, and development as time goes on. Horn is tricky, so helping with this particular is a good endorsement of one's child's chances.

For Tuba, attempt to get one that fits your son or daughter, and on which every part - including tuning slides - have been in a state of good repair. Push the school if it is a good school instrument. If your child can handle a big instrument, acquire one.

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

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

Avoid cheap instruments. With instruments you get what you spend on. There are a lot of instruments originating from India and China now. Many are excellent, while many others shouldn't even have been made. The local, respected dealer needs to have those that are reliable, and can stand behind them. Your big-box Costco, Wal-Mart, BestBuy, and e-Bay doesn't have any expertise in these matters, and operations for their bottom line only. Avoid these places. They cannot possibly offer you the continued assistance, service, or repair which a developing and interested student will require. If you choose this route, ask for american-made instruments (and Japan). This really is a major separator of good from bad. Those who make brass in the us are generally very well trained and a part of a history of excellent brass making, specifically those in the Conn-Selmer family of companies. The local, trusted retailer will help to guide you in the choices available, and don't forget that just because it says USA, or Paris about it, does not mean it was produced in these places. Manufacturers are now sometimes making these items part of the 'name' of the instrument.((The amount should I spend?

That is the big question. Know 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. Here's a list of acceptable pricing (at the time that this is being written) for new student instruments that actually works for both American and Canadian currency.

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

When should I obtain a better instrument, and Why?

Six decades ago, there were no 'student' and 'intermediate' instruments. Manufacturers were just coming to the realization that there was a growing, post-war market that was changing to support a more commercial type of instrument making. Today, instruments are engineered to help you get to buy three times. First when getting started, then as an advancing student, and finally as a professional. Clearly, this is a model that makes a lot of money for manufacturers.

For the ideal reasons, I often encourage parents in the first place the better instrument, or maybe a good used intermediate or professional instrument. Starting on better tools are like starting with that slightly larger mouthpiece; obtaining a bigger, better sound is encouraging. The greater construction and materials mix of these better instruments will even leave more room to develop. So what are the right reasons? Here's a list that works not merely as guide for helping to choose the right instrument, however for what you should watch for to help you musical growth:

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

These factors are perfect indicators of whether or not to buy, and if you should buy intermediate or professional. In the event the bulk of these are unclear, think about a rental for a year to find out if they get any clearer, and supplement with regular (weekly) private lessons.

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