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March 29 2016


Choosing a Musical Instrument To your Child - A Parents' Help guide to Brass

Chance The Rapper Type beat
Many people end up thrown into the realm of musical instruments they know nothing about when their kids first begin music in school. Knowing the basics of fine instrument construction, materials, and selecting a good store to rent or purchase a copy instruments is extremely important. Precisely what process should a parent follow to make the best ways for their child?

Chance The Rapper Type Beat 2016
Clearly the first task is to choose a guitar. Let your child have their own choice. Kids don't make lots of big decisions about their life, and this is a big one that can be very empowering. I can also say from personal experience that children have a natural intuition as to what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is to put a child in a room to try no more than 3-5 different choices, and let them make their choice in line with the sound they like best.

This information is intended to broaden your horizons, not to create a preference, in order to put you in a position to nit-pick in the store! Most instruments are extremely well made these days, and selecting a respected retailer will allow you to trust recommendations. Ask your school and/or private music teacher where you should shop.

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


There's two basic kinds of materials used in brass instrument construction. The first is clearly brass, as well as 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 has a certain tendency perfectly into a particular quality of sound - however is a very subtle distinction, and cannot be used as an exclusive gauge for picking your instrument.

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

(Gold brass can also be extremely popular, mainly because of its slightly more complex quality of sound, and personal feedback. Often a player hears themselves somewhat better using gold brass, however the trade off is a very slight reduction in projection. This more 'complex' quality is incredibly attractive to the ear, but tend to get harsh at high volumes if your player is not in command of all of their technique. It is similar to the transition to screaming from singing - there is a point at which you can easily get carried away. Gold Brass is not used for the whole instrument (in North America, but a lot in Europe). We primarily use it for the bell (the place that the sound comes out), and also the leadpipe (the first stretch of tubing in your instrument). The leadpipe usage is becoming common for student instruments, because it resists corrosion well, that is a concern for teenagers whose body is volatile, and then for students who rarely clean their instruments.

The same holds true of Red brass. This can be a very complex sound, not often used in student instruments. Red brass appears almost exclusively inside the bell of an instrument. Simply because its less stable nature in sound production at loud volumes. With that said, it can produce a marvelous sound when healthy against the rest of a well designed instrument. One example is the famous 88H Symphonic Trombone, that is a staple of the north american market for over 60 years.

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

This is a very important section of your instrument. Unlike brass, it tends to be very hard. This makes it well suited 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 into a lot of connection with the hands to protect against friction wear through the hands.
Companies use nickel silver in numerous ways, and on various parts of the instrument. These construction data is minimal, but below are a few suggestions to look for that can assist the stability and strength of student instruments:
o The outsides of tuning slides. This is good, because it protects parts that regularly need to be moved from damage.
o The lining tubes of tuning slides. Ideal 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 within the ferrule is regulated to change shape (taper) through to a larger consecutive tube. Some erogenous student instruments just fit expanded ends of brass tubing together.
o Parts that the hands touch. Brass is definitely eaten away, albeit slowly, by normal body, so a student instrument which has these areas in nickel-silver is definitely an asset for longevity. There are exceptions to this rule, specifically Trumpets, whose valve casings are often made of brass alone.


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

As with instruments, mouthpieces come in a dizzying array of shapes and specifications. Stuff that you have never heard of, including 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 is often difficult for the parent to digest, and in many cases frustrating. How big or small should the various parts be?

Generally, schools start kids on small mouthpieces given that it is easy to get a response out of them. The downside on this is that small mouthpieces can mean a very bright sound, and may actually hold a student 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 would recommend getting the second mouthpiece straight away. This will produce a bigger/fuller sound, and may 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 is the company that makes the mouthpiece, suggested here only for comparison.

Trumpet: 7C, 5C (Bach numerology - for strong players consider also 3C)
Horn: 30C4, 32C4 (Schilke or Yamaha numerology)
Trombone: 12C, 6½AL (Bach numerology - for strong players consider also 5GS)

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

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

When and what reason should I not buy a new mouthpiece?
Kids often look for the short-cut. Not being able to play high or low enough is a challenge and often the kid looks for a simple answer, or has witnessed a colleague playing something more important. Often, when your child approaches you in regards to a new mouthpiece, it might very well be the time for it. Be sure you ask lots of questions regarding what they do and do not like regarding their mouthpieces so you can learn from your retailer if this sounds like a good request. Make sure to know what they already have. The best changes to make would be the subtle ones. Small variations in a mouthpiece design may help get the desired result, and never sacrifice some or all the other areas of playing. The students that make the big changes just to get high notes often spend the money for biggest price within their tone, tuning, and technique.

Other considerations

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

For Trombone, for early beginners, a nickel-silver slide a very good idea, as slide repairs cost a lot.

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

For Tuba, make an effort to get one that fits your kids, and on which all the parts - including tuning slides - are 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 operate well. Be sure you know what lubricants to use on what parts of your instrument. Trumpet, a comparatively simple instrument, needs 3 different lubricants; tuning slide, 1st/3rd valve slide, and pistons. I recommend synthetic lubricants. They will hold up slightly better against forgetful students who do not do the regular maintenance.

Cleaning. Once every 12-18 months use a professional cleaning. Otherwise clean in the home once a month using mild soap and lukewarm water (trouble will cause your lacquer to peel of your respective horn), and a flexible brush from a retailer.

Avoid cheap instruments. With instruments you get what you pay for. There are a lot of instruments via India and China now. Lots of people are excellent, while many others ought not even have been made. Your neighborhood, 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 cannot possibly offer you the continued assistance, service, or repair that a developing and interested student will need. If you choose this route, obtain american-made instruments (and Japan). This is a major separator of good from bad. People that make brass in the united states are generally very well trained and portion of a history of excellent brass making, particularly those in the Conn-Selmer family of companies. Any local, trusted retailer will assist to guide you in the choices available, don't forget that just because it says USA, or Paris onto it, does not mean it was stated in these places. Increase which mean sometimes making these products part of the 'name' of the instrument.((The amount should I spend?

That is the big question. Remember that popular instruments, like Trumpet, are less expensive 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 (during the time that this is being written) for brand new student instruments that actually works for both American and Canadian currency.

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

When should I purchase 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 label of instrument making. Today, instruments are engineered to get you to buy three times. First when getting started, then as an advancing student, lastly as a professional. Clearly, this is a model that makes lots of money for manufacturers.

Ideal reasons, I often encourage parents in the first place the better instrument, or even a good used intermediate or professional instrument. Starting on better tools are like starting on that slightly larger mouthpiece; getting a bigger, better sound is encouraging. The better construction and materials mixture of these better instruments will also leave more room to grow. So what are the right reasons? Listed here is a list that works not merely as guide for helping to choose the right instrument, but for what you should watch for to aid musical growth:

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

These factors are good indicators of whether to buy, and whether to buy intermediate or professional. When the bulk of these are unclear, think about a rental for a year to ascertain if they get any clearer, and supplement with regular (weekly) private lessons.

Don't be the product, buy the product!