Let’s Get Down To Brass Tactics


When talking about musical instruments, we often talk about them as being part of a family. That’s because some instruments share the same characteristics. They are often made of the same types of materials, usually look similar to one another, and/or produce sound in comparable ways.


The brass musical instruments family is mainly named after the fact that all the instruments are made of brass. This family of instruments can play louder than most instruments in the band. Although their early ancestors are known to have been made of wood, tusks, animal horns or shells, today’s modern brass instruments are made entirely of brass. Brass instruments are essentially very long pipes that widen at their ends into a bell-like shape. The pipes have been curved and twisted into different shapes to make them easier to hold and play.


Brass players use their breath to produce sound by vibrating their lips (buzzing) against a metal cup-shaped mouthpiece. The mouthpiece helps to amplify the buzzing of the lips, which creates the sound. Most brass instruments have valves attached to their long pipes; the valves look like buttons. When you press down on the valves, they open and close different parts of the pipe. You change the pitch and sound by pressing different valves and buzzing your lips harder or softer. The brass family members that are most commonly used in the orchestra include the trumpet, French horn,trombone, and the tuba.


The trumpet was first used in the military to rhythmically sound signals to the the troops. Today, the trumpet is one of the world’s most popular instruments and is used in a variety of musical settings including jazz and concert bands. Along with the very popular Bb trumpet, there are trumpets in C, D, E, Eb, Piccolo trumpets, Cornets and Flugelhorns.


The slide is the oldest method of changing the air-column of a brass instrument. A very popular instrument today, the trombone is used in many types of musical groups including concert, symphonic, marching, military, jazz, rock, and pop idioms. St. John’s Music carries the top three brands in Canada. Yamaha, Accent, and Bach


French Horns have been a part of orchestras and band for a very long time. Their resonance is incomparable. The types of French horns most commonly in use today are the single and double horns.


Low brass instruments like the baritone and euphonium are used often in concert band and orchestral music. They are often not featured prominently when played in ensembles but the low brass family of instruments often provides the harmony and is a very important part of any ensemble.


One of the most important instruments in the band. The tuba is the largest and lowest brass instrument and anchors the harmony for the whole band with its deep rich sound. You blow and buzz into a very large mouthpiece and use your hand to press down on the valves which changes the sound.