So, you're here to find out which is the easiest brass instrument to learn? Well, we all have a love for music; either performing, wanting to perform, or merely listening and appreciating. Every member of staff here at Normans Musical Instruments is a musician. We all have our own ‘passion’ for a particular instrument, and styles of music we love to listen to. Personally, I have the most eclectic love of musical taste. Big Band, Brass Band, Jazz, Wind Band, 80’s Synth Pop, 2-Tone & Ska… and Elgar. Now that is some ‘variations’!
I told you it was eclectic!
So, of all the Brass instruments available, which could be classed as ‘the easiest’? First and foremost, with all brass instruments, you have to learn to produce a sound with ‘the buzz’ of the pursed lips and compressed airflow. Once this has been achieved, it is then a case of how to change the pitch. Either through the technique of pressing/changing valve combinations, or slide positions, as well as the harmonic series (the notes achievable on a single position or valve by tightening or loosening the lips).
Let’s have a look at the most popular Brass Instruments, giving each an overview of the pros & cons of how easy they are to learn.
The cheapest, smallest and lightest member of the Brass family, and easily the most popular.
This popularity emphasises everything that is positive about choosing a Cornet or Trumpet to learn. Affordable (Sonata Trumpet and Cornet c.£150), smaller size ideal for the younger player, and as you find more of them in bands, better opportunity to perform!
Tenor Horn/French Horn
You may find that Cornet/Trumpet mouthpiece options are simply too small for your mouth shape/size (embouchure), and the ‘buzz’ will just not produce. In that case, the slightly larger, and equally tonally-pleasing option of a Tenor Horn or French Horn could be the answer.
Again, they are both affordable at the student, beginner level, with a Sonata Tenor Horn and a Sonata mini-French Horn approx. £250. The techniques are the same for all valve instruments, and with practice the lips and fingers will move in perfect sync to play the music.
Q: If a French Horn is so good… why stick your hand up the bell to stop the sound coming out??
A: It is this ‘stopping’ technique that produces the unique and powerful tone.
Due to their size, they would be more appropriate for an older student or adult. If a younger child does show an enthusiasm to learn a lower pitched instrument, there is now available the amazing Nuvo jHorn. This lightweight plastic ‘Horn’ is brilliant, colourful, sounds great, and even comes in a range of exciting colour options!
As a first instrument to learn, the Sonata Student 3-Valve Euphonium and SBH701 Baritone, are both great sounding and accessible to start you on your journey. Ideal for the developing and improving player who finally wants to own their own instrument. These beautiful instruments play as good as they look!
Designed and manufactured to high standards using pure brass, the tonal response and intonation will improve any enthusiastic player and section. The yellow-brass alloy will help your sound project across the venue, yet easily blend within the ensemble.
Ahh, the wonderful, most amazing of instruments, the mighty Trombone. Simplistic in its design, with no valves to interfere with the most sonorous sound known to mankind! You can also get many more different sizes of Trombone mouthpiece options (small or large shank) to accommodate varying embouchure's. Ideal for all ages! Plus, the wonderful, lightweight and great sounding pBone.
But to master this ‘brass-beauty’, takes dedication, patience, and a total disregard for quieter instruments and the conductor!!
The trombone is an affordable brass instrument to learn, with models such as the brilliant Sonata STB701 only costing around £200. A student I know gained his Grade 8 on one last year!
People have often asked me, “how do you know where to put the slide”? (I won’t tell you some of their suggestions!!) As with all instruments, especially strings, you simply practice and eventually gain a hand-eye coordination and ‘muscle-memory’ that allows you to ‘hit’ the right position every time. But the greatest asset a musician must have, is an ‘ear’! You have to learn when you are in tune and when not… unless you play Bagpipes, then just do your own thing regardless!
The mighty Tuba, is on the official ‘endangered instruments’ list.
If you think about all of the other brass instruments mentioned, they’re all affordable and portable for all ages. Unfortunately, the Tuba, be it an Eb Tuba or the gargantuan Bb Tuba, do not appeal to the younger players. This is due to ‘carryability’, cost (cheapest Sonata STU701 model is around £750), and also as the mouthpiece size can be much, much bigger than their mouth size, so creating a sound is unachievable?
However, for a potential player over the age of about 12, the Tuba will offer you respect within a band/orchestra. Respect of your strength, your rarity, and of your deepest tones! The Tuba is the foundation that all others rely!!
Concisive (ish!) Conclusion!
Q: Which is the easiest brass instrument to learn?
A: They are all equal. Sorry, but it’s true!
If you choose an appropriate brass instrument, that is suitable to your size, embouchure, budget, and most importantly, your enthusiasm, you will prosper. Practice, dedication and a good teacher are also paramount in achieving the highest standards.
I have highlighted the best value-for-money range on offer from Sonata. If however, you wish to achieve outstanding results quicker, with a much more impressive sound, I cannot recommend highly enough the professional spec range from Montreux. Stunning Silver finish, design and sound quality. You will not be disappointed.
Now go forth my friends, buy a Brass Instrument, and start the world domination over the Woodwind section!