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Brass Instruments

The Brass section of an orchestra tends to cover wind instruments formerly made of that metal. Nowadays some of the instruments are made from other metals. Each instrument has a mouthpiece which looks like a cup or funnel which is placed against the player's lips. The shape of the mouthpiece affects the quality of the tone, for example the French Horn has a deep funnel which produces a smooth tone whereas the trumpet has a cup shaped mouthpiece which produces more brilliance. The instruments are then made up of a tubular section leading into a bell end. With the exception of the Trombone which has a sliding arrangement, the instruments are fitted with a system of valves which helps the player to change the note of the instrument.

TrumpetThe Trumpet

The Trumpet is a tubular instrument which has a cup mouthpiece and a moderate sized bell end. A variety of notes can be played by using different combinations of the three valves. It's sound can be muted by the insertion of a stopper into the bell. The trumpet is reasonably straight forward to learn and therefore a simple tune can be played on one within a relatively short space of time. To play the trumpet you must be able to vibrate your lips over the mouthpiece. They are a popular instrument to learn.


CornetThe Cornet

The Cornet is very similar to the trumpet, in that it has a cup shaped mouthpiece, is a tubular instrument and has a bell end. The main difference being that when you approach the bell end the cornet changes its cylindrical tube to a conical one, it can also be considered as a squashed trumpet. It is played in the same way as a trumpet but is probably less popular.


French HornThe French Horn

The French Horn is an intricately coiled tube which is narrow at one end and then widens into a flared bell about 30cm diameter at the other. The mouthpiece is funnel shaped rather than cup shaped. It is again played with three valves giving a range of notes. It can be more expensive than a trumpet and is also harder to learn, which means it is less popular with the younger children.


TromboneThe Trombone

The Trombone is like a trumpet being that it is a tubular instrument with a cup shaped mouthpiece and a moderate sized bell end. The difference being that it is not operated by valves but by a sliding arrangement which extends the size of the tube, and hence gives the range of notes. It is not too expensive to buy and can be relatively easy to learn.


The Tuba

TubaThe Tuba is the biggest brass instrument and is therefore quite heavy for children to carry. It is a bass brass instrument which comprises of a cup shaped mouthpiece, a large conical tube that wraps around itself and a large flared bell end. It is fairly expensive to buy and also, because of its size, not that popular for younger children to play. An alternative for a young child would be the Tenor Horn which is similar to the french horn but smaller.


To find out more about learning how to play these instruments visit the Starting to Learn section of our site.

Information on maintenance or repairs is available in the Maintenance and Tuning section of our site.

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