The Brass Family

Trumpet - Horn - Trombone - Euphonium - Tuba

If you guessed the brass family got its name because the instruments are made of brass, you’d be exactly right! This family of instruments can play louder than any other and can also be heard from far away (hello neighbors).



Personality: Are you energetic, “brassy”, and love be the center of attention? Trumpeters are individualists (so you stand out from the crowd) but you also get along well with others – providing you have had your time in the spotlight!

About the instrument: Throughout history, the trumpet has been used to sound alarms, gather people together, as a call to war, and to add luster to any parade. Like the violin, the trumpet is the smallest member of its family and plays the highest pitches with its bright and vibrant sound. Today's modern trumpet is a slender brass pipe with three attached valves, which is curved and bent into long loops. If you unwound the trumpet to its full length, it would be 6 ½ feet long! You play the trumpet by holding it horizontally, buzzing your lips into the mouthpiece, and pressing down the three valves in various combinations to change pitch.

Best age to start: 8 and up


Horn (aka French horn)

Personality: If you love warm, rich musical tones, the horn may the instrument for you! Featured in Peter in the Wolf (listen to the clip below of the horn representing the Wolves), the horn’s distinct sound is often associated with beautiful motifs and unforgettable characters. Being a member of the exclusive french-horn-playing-club will open many musical doors for you!

About the instrument: Surprisingly, the horn does actually originate from France! It comes from the French hunting horn of the 1600s and produces a diverse sound ranging from very loud to very soft, from harsh and blaring to mellow and smooth. The horn's 18 feet of tubing is rolled up into a circular shape, with a large bell at its end. To play the horn, you hold it with the bell curving downward and buzz into the mouthpiece. Your left-hand plays the three valves. You can change the character of the sound using your right hand inside the bell.

Best age to start: 8 and up



Personality: Express your creativity by playing in orchestras, concert bands, or jazz bands! The trombone is wonderfully expressive!

About the instrument: The trombone is the only instrument in the brass family that uses a slide instead of valves to change pitch. A standard trombone is made of long thin brass pipes. Two U-shaped pipes are linked at opposite ends to form an "S." You play the trombone by holding it horizontally, buzzing into the mouthpiece, and using your right hand to change pitch by pushing or pulling the slide to one of seven different positions. If you stretched the trombone out straight, it would be about 9 feet long. The longer you stretch the slide, the lower and deeper the tone. The sounds of the trombone can evoke a jovial march, or convey the eeriness of the unknown.

Best age to start: 8 and up


Tuba and Euphonium

Personality: Playing the tuba provides you with the opportunity to the only tubist in most groups. You never have to share your music stand with anyone!

About the instrument: These are the grandfathers of the brass family. The tuba is the largest and lowest brass instrument and anchors the harmony not only of the brass family but the whole orchestra with its deep, rich sound. Like the other brass, the tuba and euphonium are made of a long metal tubes, curved into an oblong shape, with a huge bell at the end. Tubas range in size from 9 to 18 feet; the longer they are, the lower they sound. You play the tuba and euphonium sitting down with the instrument on your lap and the bell facing up. You blow and buzz into a large mouthpiece and use your fingers to press down on the valves which change the pitch.

Best age to start: 9 to 12 and up