Brass instruments come in many shapes and sizes which can make it difficult for inquiring new musicians to pick their horn of choice. All have a prerequisite skill of learning to “buzz” a horn’s mouthpiece to produce sound through pursed lips and compressed airflow. Once sound is being made you learn how to change pitch either with valve combo’s, slide positions, or harmonic series’ such as producing more or less airflow.
Here is a look at some classic horns, giving pros and cons in an overview to find the easiest horn for you to learn.
A powerful musical presence and one most all recognize, this popular horn is the most affordable and lightest of the brass family. They are ideal for the young player. As there are many of them in a given band there is better opportunity to perform. Often the competition between trumpet players push each other to greater mastery of their instrument.
Tenor Horn/French Horn
You may find the trumpet mouthpiece to be too small to produce sound. In which case you may want to look at the Tenor or French horns. Equal in tonality to the trumpet, it’s slightly larger frame and mouthpiece could be your answer.
Like the Trumpet and Cornet, both the Tenor and French Horns are affordable at the student/ beginner level. The technique for all valve instruments are the same combining practice of lips and fingers for perfect synchronous composure and great sound.
Due to their size they would be most appropriate for an older student, however this sonorous instrument’s low range and unique sound fits well with those wanting a more individual role in ensemble. Like the other horns already mentioned the Baritone and Euphonium use a valve system for pitch changing.
If you’re prepared to bear the weight and want a low commanding sound then you might find your home in the Baritone/ Euphonium family.
The most simplistic instrument on this list, it has no valves for changing pitch but instead a slide with positions to memorize. It is a highly accommodating instrument for all ages with different sizes available for your mouthpiece.
There is quite a lot of practice needed due to it’s slide mechanic. You need to learn the slide positions and have them in muscle memory. The best tool when learning is to have a good ear allowing you to alter the slide just enough for a perfect pitch. With diligence and hard work the ensemble will regard you with respect in handling such a unique instrument.
The largest and most expensive instrument on this list, the Tuba is not the popular option among younger students. Not recommended for anyone under 12, this instrument is rare among ensembles. However, it being the lowest instrument it is important for all bands. If you make the commitment others will respect your strength, will, and bass tones.
So, which is the easiest to learn? They are all unfortunately equal. If you pick the horn appropriate to your size, budget, and enthusiasm, you will prosper. Practice, dedication, and a good teacher are imperative to success with your instrument. Have you made your choice? Then go forth and toot your heart out!