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Is Brass Right for My Student?

Alright, so it’s time for your student to pick an instrument.


As a parent, you want to make sure your child picks an instrument that they will be successful in, as well as something that they will like playing!

And so, this is designed to give you an idea of what the brass family requires, and how that might fit in with your student. 


Let me begin by saying that this is no more than a very light suggestion on what might be a good fit for your student. The singular most important thing about loving to play music, is playing an instrument you enjoy! Your student might pick something you think isn’t a good fit for them, but in the end, it is their decision. People fall into whatever instrument they play in a variety of different ways, and as long as they like it, it works out! 

This also doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. Your student can decide they want to try a different instrument in 6 months, a year, or even a few years. People are constantly picking up new instruments, either because they like it better, or because their ensemble needs that particular instrument, and all sorts of other reasons. Exploring other instruments should be encouraged, so they can find one they like. 

But for now, let’s discuss brass, and the characteristics of students who often succeed at brass instruments. This is once again, only in a very general sense. 


Patient: Another characteristic of most brass instruments, is that it takes a long time for the player to build the skills necessary to sound ‘good’ on the instrument. Range and tone both take years to develop, and so the first couple years of playing brass can often be frustrating, for the student as well as whoever listens to them practice. So if your student is patient and willing to dedicate time to sounding good, they might do really well on a brass instrument! If they aren’t great with delayed gratification, then they might be happier with another instrument, like saxophone. 


Confident: I have listed this characteristic for multiple reasons. Firstly, high brass instruments often are ones with solos, in many different styles of music. It’s for this reason, that trumpet in particular often draws many confident students who want to be heard over the ensemble. However, all brass players need confidence in themselves. Whether or not they are soloing, the range of the instrument requires strength and self-confidence to reach. My trumpet instructor used to say the high notes “can smell fear.” 


Aural training: One of the difficult things about brass, is that on all of them, one has multiple notes on the same fingering pattern. So, unlike any other instrument, the player must hear which ‘partial’ they are playing, and adjust accordingly. This is particularly difficult on french horn, as the partials are very close together. 

So if your student has any history of music, including singing or piano, they might do very well at brass instruments! Anything that would have built those aural brain pathways will certainly be an asset to them. 


Dependable (Low Brass): Now, this is obviously a trait that will help your student succeed in a lot of things, not just music, and not just brass. A dependable and consistent student will advance quickly in whichever instrument they choose! However, particularly in low brass dependable students are widely praised and successful. The low brass section is the foundation of the ensemble, including tuba, euphonium, and trombone. These instruments ‘hold down the fort’ of the music, being often the choral root and support for other instruments. 


And so, that’s it! These are just a few of characteristics that might help your student succeed at playing brass instruments.

Remember, they can have one, all, or none of them, as long as brass is what they want to play! 

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