10 Tips for Beginning Brass Students

Dansr, Inc.

10 Tips for Teaching Beginner Brass Students

Without going into specifics of the many various schools of brass playing that exist today, here are 10
tips for teaching beginner brass students:
1. Keep it simple.
Rather than using a barrage of words to go deep into the theory of how a brass instrument works, use
simple verbal instructions, backed up with demonstrations.
2. Demonstrate.
Demonstrate good posture, hand position, and mouthpiece placement, and reinforce these good habits
often in early lessons.
3. A relaxed atmosphere
Help your student to feel relaxed. Some beginners can become quite nervous before, and during their
first lessons. Smile, make them feel welcome, and encourage them with positive reinforcement. In other
words, instead of screaming “Not like that!”, you could say “O.K. Try to make it sound a bit more like this
(demonstrate).” Plenty of laughter and humour in lessons can help set a nervous student at ease.
4. Stretch...
Use simple stretches as a gentle physical warm up. During the stretches, explain why they are important
(in as few words as possible!)
5. ...and breathe
Get your students used to taking full, relaxed breaths by showing them simple breathing exercises.
6. Free buzzing
The majority of students will (after some practice) be able to create a rudimentary buzz in their first
lesson. There are many ideas out there as to the best way to do this. Here is one suggestion: Have your
student moisten their lips with their tongue and form the lips as if saying “Mmm”. When this feels
comfortable, have them blow air through the lips to create a buzz.
7. Mouthpiece buzzing
Have the student try the same thing, this time with the mouthpiece placed lightly on the lips. Have them
breathe, and then produce the buzz on the top of the breath, using the tongue to articulate with the
syllable “T”
8. And now...
Repeat the process with the mouthpiece in the horn – have the student play any note that comes easily.
9. Show and tell
If the student is unfamiliar with musical notation, show them what their note looks like on paper, e.g. If
they played a C, show them the position of a C on the stave.
10. Lesson journal
Have your student keep a lesson journal! Get them to write down some simple reminders of their first
lesson, so that they can more easily recall the lesson when they practice at home.

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