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Brass instruments for beginners and pros

 

As one of the broadest categories of musical instruments, there’s a lot to consider when pursuing playing a wind instrument. Brass or woodwind is just one if the many questions a musician must ask themselves, then it’s on to narrowing it down to the instrument itself.

Like with any other category, there are myriad options to choose from. To help narrow down the search, here’s a guide to the some of the most popular brass instruments for all levels of skill. 

 

Trombone 

 

Dating back to the 15th Century, the trombone is one of the oldest brass instruments there is. Its sound is solid and unmistakeable – even in a symphony orchestra, a bold blast from the trombone player is never missed. It’s a little less trendy today than it once was and is considered more of a marching band look than a rock star one with kids and teenagers. That’s not to say it isn’t a valued. In jazz circles, the trombone dominates and its masters, like J.J. Johson and Carl Fontana, are worshipped.

Beginners can’t go wrong with Mendini’s B Flat Tenor Slide Trombone for $129.99. Players love its easy slide and the white gloves that come with it.

 

Mendini B flat Tenor slide trombone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A more experienced trombone player may want to consider a more expensive piece of kit like a King. At $2,249, the King 2166 3B Valve Trombone is a treat for professionals who want the sleek, shiny comfort of a valve section. It’s a beautiful instrument and one which will stand the test of time if cared for properly.

King 2166 3B Valve Trombone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trumpet 

 

The trumpet offers a sharper, brighter sound than the trombone and often adds moments of levity and lightness to darker arrangements. It shines in the middle register between a G3 and G5.  The earliest instruments which resembled the trumpet were used as battle horns and date back to 1500BC. Today, it remains popular in schools and normally takes a dignified backseat to glorified guitarists and vocalists in mainstream bands.

Mendini’s MTT-L Trumpet Bb is a hugely popular trumpet for $89.99. The friendly price point makes it a go-to for kids or other beginners who are eager to take up an instrument.

Mendini's MTT-L Trumpet Bb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pros are may want to look to a more sophisticated model like the Bach Stradavarius Series Bb Its price ($2,829) reflects its heightened quality. The trumpet comes in silver and with an elegant brown leather trunk for transporting it.

 

Bach Stradavarius Series Bb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Horn

 

With its wrapped brass tubing and dramatic flared bell, the French horn certainly grabs the eye. Its the third highest sounding instrument in the brass category beneath the trumpet and the cornet. Its normally reserved for classical music.

Beginners can’t go wrong with Ammoon’s B/BB Flat 3 Key horn for $179.99.

Ammoon’s B/BB Flat 3 Key Horn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a fuller bellied sound and higher quality, Hans Hoyer makes show-stopping pieces with startling price tags including its uble French HornHeritage 6802 Bb/F Do for $5,035.

 

uble French HornHeritage 6802 Bb/F Do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuba

 

The largest and lowest pitched instrument in the brass family, the tuba is one of the most show-stopping pieces of the band. Next to the cello, there are few instruments which command so much attention because of its size. Its younger than others in the family, finding its origins in 1835.

Because of its size, it’s more expensive than other brass instruments. Again, Mendini makes a great option for beginners with its $399 Brass B Flat model

Mendini Brass B flat tuba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schiller make more advanced models including its rotary 4-valve BBb tube for a reasonable $1,930 and its 4-valve Piston tuba in a nickel finish for $1,292.

Schiller silver 4-valve BBb tube 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a more modern take on the brass look, Cool Wind boasts a collection of coloured finishes on its 4-valve BBb tuba for $1,245.

Cornet 

 

The corner is similar to the trumpet but is smaller and has a conical bore. Its tone is mellower and less piercing than the trumpet and it’s not as well known by non-musicians. Still, it’s a unique instrument which can add vital undertones to any piece of music.

To hear the difference, check out this video comparing the two:

The good news about this lesser known instrument is that, like the trumpet, it’s cheaper than a lot of other members of the brass family. A decent beginner item, such as the Tristar which comes with a case and MP, will set you back just $100.

Tristar cornet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More sophisticated versions are offered by Ravel for $343.

 

Ravel cornet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If a brass instrument isn’t for you, you might want to consider wind or a different family altogether. Check out our guides on the ukulele, drums, bass guitar and violin for inspiration.

10 of the best drum sets for beginners and kids

Choosing the best beginner drumset is no easy feat.  It’s the heart of the band and if you go the wrong route, it can be the source of many household arguments. There’s no shortage of options out there but sometimes this makes the search all the more overwhelming.

The importance of a good set has never been lost on the music world. Buddy Rich, the iconic New York jazz drummer who died in 1987, said famously: ‘Any young drummer should get himself a great teacher and learn all there is to know about the instrument.’

To help you with your search, here’s a list of some of the best five piece sets that are available today for adults and kids alike.

Need inspiration or just curious about the drums? Check out percussionhowto.net for some titillating material.

1. Best Choice Products

Best choice 5 piece adults drum set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This five-piece set is a fail safe beginner drumset for any rookie. It comes with high hats, a throne and dual cymbals, giving the drummer everything they need to get going. The shiny black gloss finish also gives it a versatile look for any band or home. Drummers love how easily the set is to tune and the $199 price tag is hard to beat.  It’s not a forever set and some felt the need to upgrade some elements, namely the cymbals, within a year of practice but if you’ve never owned a percussion set before and don’t yet know your limit or potential, it’s a great starter option for adults.

Get a great deal on yours here 

 

2. Rise by Sawtooth

Rise by Sawtooth five piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This student/beginner drumset is crafted out of Poplar wood and comes in an array of jazzy, sparkly finishes. It’s priced reasonably at $249.95 and drummers seem to appreciate how easy it is to assemble. As for the sound, it’ll do the job without shattering any windows. Some musicians complain that the drum set’s two cymbals are a little tinny and thin so you might want to consider upgrading those once you develop a more sophisticated sound.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

3. Gammon

 

Gammon full size 5 piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gammon is a brand name that’s commonly associated with the beginner drum set and the reason for that is its beloved 5-piece battle drum set.  At $250, it’s hard to beat price wise. Its hardware is light weight which can give off the impression that it’s cheap, but the shells and heads are well received.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

4. Mendini

Mendini 5 piece adult drums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medinini prides itself on being one of the most affordable brands for beginner drumsets and drummers in general. Its five-price set offers the same as the others listed above and comes in a variety of bright colours. It’s particularly popular among kids and in schools.

Adult 5 piece,  $209.99 here.

Junior 16 inch, $139.99 here. 

Kids 13 inch, $79.99 here.

 

5. Pearl Roadshow

Pearl Roadshow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearl is a well respected name in the drum world and for good reason. Its the brand of choice for Tico Torres, Bon Jovi’s revered drummer, and some of the products in its masterworks range are simply spellbinding. For the less experienced, the American drum specialists’ roadshow five-piece set is a stealthy option. It’s more expensive than the more basic alternatives at $432, but what you pay for you get back in the quality and sound that Pearl is famous for.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

6. Alesis Nitro

 

Alesis Nitro 8 piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever considered an electronic drum kit? They’re becoming more and more popular, and the Alesis Nitro is leading the trend. This is an eight-piece set which includes three dynamic tom pads, a dual-zone snare drum, a kick drum pad and three symbols. Its most attractive feature are the headphones which come with it – drummers can practice in peace without anyone else in the house hearing the sound. This makes it a great option for families or for self-conscious beginners who want a little more privacy starting out.

At $375, it’s more expensive than the acoustic options which is to be expected. Whether you opt for acoustic or electric is a matter of taste. Few pro-drummers would side with the latter, preferring a more traditional experience with acoustic sets.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

 

7. Tama Imperialstar

 

Tama Imperialstar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tama is a common fixture in drum kit rankings. Its beginner set comes with a 22” bass drum which musicians love and is finished to a high quality which is reflected in the $699.99 price tag. The Imperial Star is a simplified version of its more expensive products and it is built to last. It’s made from poplar and has a number of durable features including glued-on wraps as opposed to taped on ones which other brands favour. Its HCS brass cymbals from Meini are an added bonus which drummers don’t feel the need to replace so quickly as they do with other sets.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

8. Ddrum D Series

D drum D series five piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ddrum has been making drums in the US since 1983 and is a firm favorite among beginners. Its D-Series 5 piece set sits in the mid-range for beginners at $360. In terms of appearance, it bears little difference to some of the Mendini or Best Product options, but its sound and quality is where the added value lies. Its sound quality is durable and, while the cymbals aren’t the best.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

9. Ludwig Element Evolution

Ludwig Element Evolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With subtle added touches of quality, this is a great set for a relatively inexperienced drummer who’s looking to kick it up a notch. It’s more sophisticated sound is brought by double-edged hardware and, importantly, its Zildjian Cymbals. At $799, it’s a very reasonable intermediate option. If you’re already at ease with the drums and want to progress, this is a next step.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

10. Yamaha Gigmaker

Yamaha Gigmaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any instrument which bears the Yamaha name will likely bring comfort to a beginner musician. It may be best known for its grand pianos, but its drum sets measure up too and the Gigmaker 5-piece set is a safe bet.

This set, unlike all of the others above, is a shell pack so it does not include cymbals, stands or hardware. With this in mind, the set is $399 of drums – and good ones at that. If you can get your hands on some decent hardware, the Gigmaker is solid choice for beginners and intermediates alike.

Get a great deal on yours here

 

Not sold on the drums? Read our beginners guides for the bass guitar, violin and ukulele. 

Advantages of having an Amazon Music account

These days, it seems like every time you get online there is a new way to listen to music. The listening method du jour is streaming, giving users instant access to millions of songs at once, a luxury that would have blown the minds of people who grew up only listening to music fed to them on the radio.

Spotify, Tidal and iTunes have dominated the conversation in recent years, but Amazon Music has just as much if not more to offer music lovers.

Here are some of the benefits:

Prime Access

Do you already have an Amazon Prime account? If you shop online, you should. The free shipping alone is worth it, but Prime members were pleasantly surprised when free streaming music was added for Prime members in 2014. This is similar to the company adding streaming television and movies prior to that. Prime has gone from a free shipping service to an all-inclusive entertainment package at an affordable annual price. One of the biggest advantages of the Prime music service is the huge number of pre-programmed playlists that you can choose from depending on your mood or listening preferences at that time, making it a great resource for musicians, teachers, and even industry pros who are looking for the next hot artist or some fresh inspiration for their own compositions. If you have Amazon Prime already, there is a good chance that you didn’t even know you had access to Amazon Music. Now you know, so take advantage of it.

For a special offer of Prime for just $5.99 a month, click here.

Family Plan

The beauty of music is that everyone loves it. This can become costly though when subscribing to services as a family.  You probably don’t want to shell out a different monthly subscription price for each family member who streams music online like some other streaming services require. Amazon understands this and has accommodated for it by giving up to six people access to one account for an extremely low monthly price of just $7.99. If you already have subscriptions for all of your family with another streaming service, this could mean a lot more room in your budget each month. It seems that Amazon has seen the success that cell phone service providers have found with this business model and are acting accordingly. Also, each individual account can listen to different music simultaneously on their different devices.

Gigantic Catalog

Classical music lover? Jazz? Country? Ragtime? Regardless of what your favorite kind of music is, the Amazon Music Unlimited catalog has it in spades. This includes brand-new music being released by today’s most popular artists which are usually available without advertisements and whenever the listener wants to hear them. This includes the variety of different playlists and radio stations that have been curated by the company’s experts. There is no difference between the amount of music offered by other streaming services and Amazon which is a great deal considering the service can be had for free when you already have Amazon Prime.

Compatibility

You may not always be at home with your computer when you are trying to check out a new tune or practice for your next gig. Amazon has you covered with this. You would be hard pressed to find a device that connects to the internet that isn’t compatible with Amazon Music. Waiting in the green room before a gig and need to learn the chord changes to tune? Plug your headphones into your phone and dial it up. Don’t worry, you can listen as many times as you want too, Reading on your Kindle or Fire and want to switch over and listen to a song that is mentioned in an article? Just switch over to your Amazon Music app and go for it. This includes both Android and iOS devices.

You Can Still Listen in Airplane Mode

MAJOR perk. Those who work in the music industry understand just how much travel is required in order to be successful. The time spent flying from one place to another on an airplane is valuable because there is nothing to distract you from catching up on music you have to listen to or making some charts for your next gig. Even if you aren’t in the music industry, there’s nothing more frustrating than having your signal cut-off mid subway ride. Amazon Music eliminates this risk. On the app, you can download any song you need to listen to a specifically designed playlist so you can listen to it later when you may not have internet access.

Amazon Audible for the Bookworm

Another option when it comes to auditory entertainment is, Amazon Audible a service that lets people stream books straight from their device. It’s no accident that the popularity of audiobooks is enjoying a meteoric rise as Amazon boosts Audible (Serial ring any bells?) Audible is in addition to Prime or Music Unlimited services. Nothing passes the time like a great book and members with Audible can get a free credit each month that they are on the service. This is an ideal service for those who already have an Amazon Kindle or an Amazon Fire device. One unique feature of Amazon Audible is its exchange program which allows a person to exchange any book that they aren’t enjoying for another one. The entire internet is now your library through Amazon Audible.

Try Before You Buy

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of music streaming services out there and they all seem to offer the same thing. You don’t want to end up paying for the wrong one, do you? Luckily, Amazon offers a one-month free trial for anyone looking into adding it to their mobile entertainment package. Amazon Audible goes one further, offering a three-month trial. During this period, users will have access to all of the same features that regular subscribers do to help them determine whether or not they want to go all in and subscribe with either a solo or family plan.

The benefits are plentiful whether you’re a casual music fan or a professional. The service makes it easy to access just about every song in recorded history on just about any device you can think of. You would have to actively try to not be able to get music when you subscribe to this. Unlike other services, the new music being released will be on the application the day it comes out whereas it could take a week or two with competing services. Put simply, Amazon Music is a no brainer for anyone with a flare for sound.

The best music colleges in the US

If you enjoy music and want to create a career from it, then the good idea is to enroll in one of the best music colleges in the US. Finding the right one can be a bit challenging at first, but results can indeed be extraordinary in the end. With that in mind, here are some of the best options to focus on.

Oberlin Conservatory of Music – Oberlin, OH

What makes this one of the best music colleges in the US is that it has it has a string undergraduate program. It also allows you to ascent to some of the best orchestras in the world, and they don’t take more than 600 students at one time. This offers a more compact and exciting place to study.

University of North Texas College of Music – Denton, TX

The reason why you may want to study music here is the fact that this is one of the largest music conservatories in the world. It’s also one of the few places out there where you can have a degree in jazz.

Curtis Institute of Music – Philadelphia, PA

This institute, in particular, is widely known for its piano programs, and they are also the only faculty free of charge in this sector. That sets it apart from most of the music colleges in the US.

Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN)

Around 1600 students can enroll here on a yearly basis. You can study vocal performance, percussion performance, music librarianship, orchestral conducting, music composition and many others.

Juilliard School – New York, NY

Aside from the fact that it’s a prestigious school with plenty of programs, this is one of the music colleges in the US that gives you an amazing exposure to the industry. It’s located in New York, so finding a job after your graduation is easy.

University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (Ann Arbor, MI)

A lot of people consider this to be one of the best music colleges in the US for those that want to prepare for classical saxophone and music theater. They also have cello programs too.

Yale School of Music (New Haven, CT)

Yale’s music school can easily help you harness a wide array of instruments. It’s also great for composers, and lots of musicians like David Shifrin and Aldo Parisot graduated from here. So, it can easily prepare you for a multitude of musical paths.

Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)

The Berklee College of Music is very good for those that want music production, jazz performance, film scoring and even music business degrees. That alone, combined with the great exposure of the town, allows you to gain access to some incredible music paths and a wonderful career in the industry.

The Colburn School (Los Angeles, CA)

The Colburn School is one of the most interesting music colleges in the US because they are free of tuition to all the enrolled students., On top of that, they have faculties for winds, strings, brass, and percussion.

Rice University Shepherd School of Music – Houston, TX

The Rice University Shepherd School of Music is a great place where you can prepare for both classical and modern music. Many bassoonists, violists, and trumpet professionals attended this school. Plus, the college is one of the few schools out there that present hundreds of concerts each year.

As you can see, there are many music colleges in the US that you can choose from. Whether you want to be a sound engineer or a music therapist. These schools can get you there. It all comes down to where you live, the opportunities you want and what musical sub-category interests you the most. One thing is certain; there are lots of amazing opportunities to be had here, so just study the list and see what works best for you!