Choosing an instrument can be a challenging task. Each instrument is unique, so understanding a few key concepts about each instrument can really help in making the decision.
The main instruments available to beginning brass players are
- French Horn
Important characteristics to consider when making a decision are
- the sound of the instrument
- how the mouth is shaped to play (embouchure)
- how the instrument is held (posture)
- how many fingers need to press valves
The most important factor in choosing an instrument to study is the sound that it makes.
The trumpet produces mostly higher pitches with a bright, brassy sound.
The French horn produces high to mid-low pitches with mellow, brassy sound.
The trombone and baritone produce mid-high to low pitches with a brassy sound.
The embouchure for all brass instruments is very similar. It is formed by pulling the corners of the lips back and rolling the lips slightly inward. The lips squeeze together to produce a buzzing sound while blowing into the mouthpiece.
The trumpet is held with the mouthpiece on the lips and the bell of the trumpet coming straight out in front of the player’s face. The left hand holds the weight of the trumpet by gripping the valves, and the first 3 fingers of the right hand are used to press the valves.
The French horn is held with the mouthpiece on the lips and the body of the French horn coming down and to the right of the player, with the bell of the French horn resting on the player’s right thigh. The left hand stabilizes the French horn while pressing the valves, and the right hand is placed inside of the bell for stabilization and sound control.
The trombone is held with the mouthpiece on the lips and the bell of the trombone coming straight out in front of the player’s face. The left hand holds the trombone with the back of the instrument resting on the player’s left shoulder. The right hand moves the slide to change pitches.
The baritone is held with the mouthpiece on the lips and the body of the instrument in front of the player’s chest. The left hand supports the weight of the instrument, while the right hand presses the valves.
The trumpet, French horn, and baritone all use 3 fingers to press valves. The trumpet and baritone use 3 fingers on the right hand, while the French horn uses 3 fingers on the left hand.
The trombone does not use valves, so no fingers are pressing anything, but instead the entire right hand grips the slide-brace to move the slide.