sketch of a tuba

Brass instruments are an exciting addition to any musical ensemble or solo performance. With great trumpet, trombone, and French horn players scattered throughout music’s history, it is no surprise that the clear, clean tones of brass instruments are still sought after. Today, you can hear brass instruments in everything from jazz and orchestral music to ska, pop, and hip hop. Whether you are interested in learning some trumpet jazz in the style of Dizzy Gillespie or you want to record some sweet backup samples, Sloan School of Music can help you achieve your brass goals.

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An Overview of Brass Instruments

Brass instruments unsurprisingly get their name because they’re made of brass. These robust instruments can be heard from great distances and are the loudest instruments in an orchestra.

Early versions of brass instruments were made from a variety of different materials: wood, animal shells, tusks, and horns.

Brass instruments are long tubes that end in a bell shape. The tube and bell are crafted and bent into different shapes to make holding and playing the instruments easier.

Brass instruments have mouthpieces, just like woodwinds. They differ from woodwinds, though, because players buzz their lips against a metal mouthpiece instead of blowing through a reed. The mouthpiece is designed to amplify the lips’ buzzing to help produce musical sounds. Buzzing your lips harder or softer changes the kind of sound produced.

Most brass instruments’ pipes have valves fastened to them. When a player presses down on the button-like valves, this action opens and closes part of the instrument to play different notes.

Types of Brass Instruments

trombone closeup

There are many different variations, but we can divide brass instruments into five major categories. Here are some details about them to help you decide which one to play:


This is the highest-pitched member of the brass family. It’s also the smallest, making it a popular choice for beginning players. The cornet is very similar to a trumpet. The differences between it and the trumpet are so minor that many band instructors don’t bother to distinguish between them for beginners.


This is a unique instrument among the brass family. The trombone uses a long slide instead of valves to change the pitch. They are regarded as “low brass” in pitch.

French Horn

The French horn is slightly larger than the trumpet and thus has a lower pitch. It’s known for its beautiful sound, but it’s somewhat challenging for beginners to learn.

Baritone and Euphonium

Baritones and euphoniums are very similar. Think of them as half-sized tubas or double-sized trumpets.

Tuba and Sousaphone

These two instruments are also very similar. Tubas and sousaphones are the largest brass instruments, and their pitches are very deep.

The variety of sounds comes in handy, as there are usually 11 to 14 of these instruments in an orchestra. Most brass instruments would be too large and unwieldy to play if the pipes were not bent and fashioned into more manageable sizes. Trumpets would be over 6 feet long, while French horns would be 18 feet!


You play a brass instrument by making a buzzing sound with your lips into the mouthpiece. The sound is amplified by the shape and material of the instrument, and the pitch is adjusted by changing the strength of your buzz and altering the length of the tube by pressing keys or sliding the tube to make it longer or shorter. The trombone is an excellent example of the slide method, as you can see the player push the tube out and in to modify the pitch. 

people playing brass instruments

The Benefits of Brass Lessons at the Sloan School of Music

Sloan School of Music prides itself on delivering the best music lessons possible. You (or your child) will learn to play beautiful music with our highly qualified instructors, but that’s not all. Your lessons will also help you (or your child) in other areas of life. 

Music lessons have been shown to help improve memory, communication, and problem-solving abilities. Your brain gets a full workout when playing music, and those who study it learn problem-solving abilities, how to work well in a group, and personal discipline.


Male student with friends blow the euphonium with the band for performance on stage at night

Brass instruments are an irreplaceable member of any music ensemble. No other instrument is capable of producing the smooth, wide open sound of a trumpet or the deep, insistent beat of a tuba. If you would like to learn how to play brass instruments, there are a wide variety available.

The most common brass instruments available today are the French horn, trumpet, trombone, and tuba. Although the sound produced by a brass instrument can carry very far, they have a wide dynamic range and can play equally softly. Their unique sound and versatility makes them a great instrument for musicians of any age, though some younger students may need to select instruments that are suitable for their size.


Ready to start your musical journey? Stop in for a visit. Our friendly staff will be happy to give you a tour and answer any questions you have. We can help you with instrument selection, scheduling, and choosing the right kind of lessons. Contact us today and we can help get you started.

kris nigh playing trombone on stage headshot


3 Reasons to Choose the Sloan School of Music for Your Brass Lessons

Sloan School of Music has gone to great lengths to build schools that foster learning and musical creativity. We want our students to have only the best experiences, and here are a few ways we make that happen:

1. Relaxing Facilities

We know that parents and family members may be waiting during a student’s lesson. We want you to be comfortable, so each location has a spacious waiting area with free Wi-Fi, easily accessible USB charging ports, and even a fridge stocked with complimentary ice-cold beverages.

2. A “Teachers First” Attitude

The Sloan School of Music was founded in 2019 by a group of teachers. Not every musician can teach, so our philosophy is to make sure our instructors are not only music experts but also expert teachers.

3. Group and Private Lessons

Our group lessons help players learn to play in a group, while private lessons are perfect for giving players individual attention. We can help you explore the best option.

We offer two convenient locations for your musical needs: one in Hagerstown, MD and one in Urbana, MD. Each store has a friendly staff with a deep knowledge of music, instruments and a commitment to putting your needs above making a sale.

Frequently Asked Questions about Brass Instrument Lessons

When you begin music lessons, you’re stepping into a whole new world of creative self-expression and fun. You may have questions before you begin if you (or your child) haven’t taken music lessons before. Here are some we hear often:

1. How Young Can My Child Start Taking Brass Music Lessons?

Most children can begin taking music lessons on many instruments at age 6. This is dictated mainly by their ability to focus and concentrate. Children are usually old enough if they can sit still and focus on one topic or idea for 20 minutes. Brass instruments are larger and heavier, so some experts recommend that children wait until 8 to 10 before starting brass lessons.

2. Will We Need to Buy a New Instrument?

Players see better progress if they can practice at home between lessons, but buying a new instrument isn’t the only option. Quality used instruments and rentals are available. Ask one of our experts to help you make the right choice for your budget.

3. How Much Practice Does My Child Need?

The more you practice between lessons, the faster you’ll improve. We recommend a schedule of practicing five or six days a week with sessions of 30 to 40 minutes each.

Please reach out to our friendly staff if you have other questions. We want you to be fully informed and comfortable with your decision to take music lessons.

Check Out Other Music Lessons:

Maybe you aren’t sure if a brass instrument is what you really want to learn? Don’t worry – we offer lessons for all types of instruments, and can help you find the right one.

Visit us today for Brass Lessons in Hagerstown, MD!