Choosing a Musical Instrument For Your Child – A Parents’ Guide to Brass

Many people end up thrown into the arena of musical instruments they know nothing about when their young children first begin music at school. Knowing the basics of excellent instrument construction, materials, picking a good store where you can rent or purchase a copy instruments is extremely important. Just what exactly process should a mother or father follow to make the best selections for their child? – August Alsina Type Instrumental 

Clearly step one is to choose a device. Let your child their very own choice. Kids don’t make developed solid relationships . big decisions with regards to their life, and this is a major one that can be very empowering. I can also say from personal experience that children have a natural intuition about what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is always to put a child in to a room to try no more than 3-5 different choices, and allow them to make their choice based on the sound they like best.

These details are intended to broaden your horizons, to never create a preference, or to put you in a position to nit-pick in the store! Most instruments are really well made these days, and choosing a respected retailer will help you to trust recommendations. Ask your school and/or private music teacher where you can shop.

Brass instruments are created all over the world, but primarily in the united states, Germany, France, and China. When 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 used in brass instrument construction. The first is clearly brass, as well as the second is nickel-silver.

Brass used 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 types of brass are all used for instrument construction. Each also has a certain tendency perfectly into a particular quality of sound – but this is a very subtle distinction, and should not be used as an exclusive gauge for selecting your instrument.

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

(Gold brass can be extremely popular, mainly because 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 of projection. This more ‘complex’ quality is quite attractive to the ear, but tend to get harsh at high volumes if the player is not in charge of all of their technique. It’s just like the transition to screaming from singing – there’s a point at which you can easily get carried away. Gold Brass sits dormant for the whole instrument (in America, but a lot in Europe). We primarily apply it the bell (in which the sound comes out), and also the leadpipe (the first stretch of tubing within your instrument). The leadpipe usage is now common for student instruments, because it resists corrosion well, the industry concern for teenagers whose body is volatile, and 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 within 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 nicely designed instrument. An example is the famous 88H Symphonic Trombone, that is a staple of the north american industry for over 60 years.

One other material that is used to generate brass instruments is nickel-silver. Interestingly, there’s 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, so that it is ideal for things like brass instruments, along with the coins you probably have in your wallet. – August Alsina Type Instrumental 

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

Protect moving parts
Join two tubes with a ring (called a ferrule)
Put on parts of the instrument that can come into a lot of contact with the hands to protect against friction wear through the hands.
Companies use nickel silver in a variety of ways, and on parts of the instrument. These construction facts are minimal, but below are a few suggestions to look for which can help the stability and strength of student instruments:
o The outsides of tuning slides. This is good, because it protects parts that frequently need to be moved from damage.
o The within tubes of tuning slides. Well suited for student instruments (and customary 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 in the designer. Sometimes the inside of the ferrule is regulated to switch shape (taper) by way of a larger consecutive tube. Some erogenous student instruments just fit expanded ends of brass tubing together.
o Parts the hands touch. Brass is readily eaten away, albeit slowly, by normal body chemistry, so a student instrument which includes these areas in nickel-silver is surely an asset for longevity. You’ll find exceptions to this rule, for Trumpets, whose valve casings are generally made of brass alone.


Mouthpieces for brass are likely to be referred to as ‘cup’ mouthpieces, and tend to be made of brass, but plated in silver. Brass without treatment can cause irritation, and it is mildly toxic to stay in such close proximity for the lips, whereas silver is mostly neutral. There are cases where some people are allergic to silver, but most often the allergy is because a dirty mouthpiece. The recommended test with this is to use an alcohol based spray cleaner, out of your music retailer that is specifically intended for mouthpieces, and clean the mouthpiece both before and after each use. This is a great idea, anyway. If the irritation persists, think about a gold-plated mouthpiece, or being a last resort, plastic. Note as well that not all companies add a good quality mouthpiece using their instruments. Be sure to seek advice from your retailer to be sure what you are getting is the thing that you should be using for the student.

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

Usually, schools start kids on small mouthpieces because it is easy to get a response away from them. The downside with this is that small mouthpieces can translate to a very bright sound, which enable it to actually hold a student back from developing the free blowing of air that is certainly essential to developing a good sound. There exists a generally accepted order of progression from bare beginner to solid student. I recommend getting the second mouthpiece straight away. This will produce a bigger/fuller sound, and can encourage more air to be utilized right from the start. Don’t let the numbers throw you here, the next mouthpiece is the bigger one. The bracket indicating numerology is 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, 6½AL (Bach numerology – for strong players consider also 5GS)

We have left Tuba off the suggested list with there being many factors that come into play for the student. Physical size plays an important part, and often the condition of the instrument getting used, as well as the size of the instrument. These vary so greatly from student to the next that a personal consultation 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 whilst they should. There are a number of really excellent mouthpieces available, yet it’s hard to beat the Perantucci Mouthpieces. A PT48 or PT50 works well for the advancing student, and also the professional, but remember that as students grow and modify, so may their mouthpiece needs.

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

When and for what reason must 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 frequently the kid looks for a fast answer, or has witnessed a colleague playing something else entirely. Often, when your child approaches you about a new mouthpiece, it may well very well be the time for it. Be sure you ask lots of questions on what they do and do not like regarding mouthpieces so you can discover from your retailer if this sounds like a good request. Make sure you know what they already have. The very best changes to make will be the subtle ones. Small variations in a mouthpiece design may help get the desired result, instead of sacrifice some or all the other areas of playing. The students that make the big changes simply to get high notes often pay the biggest price of their tone, tuning, and technique.

Other considerations

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 a very good idea, as slide repairs can be very expensive.

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

For Tuba, try to get one that fits your son or daughter, and on which all the parts – including tuning slides – have been in a state of good repair. Push the varsity if it is a good school instrument. If your little child can handle a big instrument, buy one.

Brass instruments need consistent maintenance to function well. Be sure you understand 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 strongly suggest synthetic lubricants. They are going to hold up slightly better against forgetful students who don’t do the regular maintenance.

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

Avoid cheap instruments. With musical instruments you get what you buy. There are a lot of instruments via India and China now. Most are excellent, while many others must not even have been made. Any local, respected dealer really should have those that are reliable, and definately will stand behind them. Your big-box Costco, Wal-Mart, BestBuy, and e-Bay doesn’t have any 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, require american-made instruments (and Japan). This will be a major separator of good from bad. People that make brass in the USA are generally very well trained and part of a history of excellent brass making, particularly those in the Conn-Selmer family of companies. Your neighborhood, trusted retailer will assist to guide you in the choices available, don’t forget that just because it says USA, or Paris into it, does not mean it was produced in these places. Functions and features sometimes making these things part of the ‘name’ of the instrument.((Just how much should I spend?

That is the big question. Be aware that popular instruments, like Trumpet, are cheaper because they are made in greater quantities. Some instruments, like Horn and Tuba, are challenging and time-consuming to produce, making them more expensive. Below is a list of acceptable pricing (at the time that this is being written) for first time student instruments that works well for both American and Canadian currency.

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

When should I get a better instrument, and Why?

Sixty years 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 model of instrument making. Today, instruments are engineered to obtain to buy three times. First when getting started, then as an advancing student, and finally as a professional. Clearly, this is the model that makes a lot of cash for manufacturers.

For the ideal reasons, I often encourage parents first of all the better instrument, or perhaps a good used intermediate or professional instrument. Starting on better tools are like starting with that slightly larger mouthpiece; getting a bigger, better sound is encouraging. The higher construction and materials mix 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, nevertheless for what you should watch for to assist musical growth:

-Going to some school with a strong music program.
-Getting private lessons, or has called for 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 ahead of them.

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

Music is surely an investment that requires attention from the variety of angles, as well as the instrument itself is merely a small step. Being equipped with the knowledge of how to get the instrument is just section of a process that a parent can – and may – be actively involved in. Many parents do not know anything about all of this, but now you do! Ask the questions you need to know, and you’ll be just fine getting your new instrument.

Choosing a Musical Instrument For Your Child – A Parents’ Guide to Brass