SmithAir747
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Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:35 pm

I am a lifelong musician--piano for 25+ years, acoustic guitar for 8 years, and violin (self-taught) for 4 years. I have also played organ, harpsichord, recorder (a little bit), harp, and have tried the piano accordion, and a few other stringed instruments (including balalaika, cello, etc). In my collection of musical instruments (my piano, guitar, violin, recorder), I also have a lovely antique (late 19th-early 20th century) Conn trombone, which I have tried to play but to no avail. I would like to add more instruments to my collection, including a green sax!

I have tried to play brass instruments (trumpet and trombone), but due to my cleft palate (repaired but not completely), I find it impossible to make even the least sound when I blow into the mouthpiece. But I do get a lot of air leakage. How do you brass players get a sound out of it?

I have not yet tried a woodwind instrument (reed type, such as saxophone or clarinet). Are woodwinds/reed instruments just as difficult to play? Or does the woodwind mouthpiece make it easier to blow?

If I invented a recorder-type/woodwind mouthpiece and attached it to a brass instrument (instead of the cup type mouthpiece), would it make it easier to blow, or would it ruin the sound? I have been thinking of how to modify a brass instrument in this way.

If you play a wind instrument (brass or woodwind), what is easier for you to play?

SmithAir747

[Edited 2009-07-21 15:36:35]
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Superfly
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:49 pm

The only wind instrument I was able to play was the tuba / sousaphone.
No need to position your lips in any particular manner.
I wish I could learn to work the saxophone.
Tried it once and my lower lips was numb for half a day.
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flybaurlax
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:59 pm

I played the clarinet for about 7 or 8 years, and I have tried my friend's trumpet numerous times (although you wouldn't want to hear me try it). Clarinets are a lot easier to play than trumpets, at least for me. I tried my girlfriend's oboe, which is pretty much the hardest woodwind instrument to play, and even with my clarinet experience (granted it's been a few years), I had quite a challenge making a nice sound. A flute is relatively easy to play, as I've been told, but in terms of embouchure, reed instruments (with the exception of the oboe), are easier to play than brass instruments. Of course I used to get a really sore lower lip when I had long rehearsals before concerts, but the longer you play the more you build up. It gets easier.

I hope this helps.
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Cadet57
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:00 pm

I only took lessons for one school year, so take this with a grain of salt. But for the life of me, I could not get the trumpet. I was terrible. I switched to clarinet and did much much better. But by then, I lost interest (being 12 will do that to you) so stopped playing completely.
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vikkyvik
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:05 pm

I wouldn't say either family is "easier" to play.

However, from the point of view of how you have to position and use your mouth and lips, single-reed woodwinds such as the clarinet and sax are probably easier than trumpet or french horn (which actually has a smaller bore mouthpiece than trumpet if I remember correctly).

Took me quite awhile (as it seems to take everyone) to master getting decent notes out of a trumpet. But I was able to get notes out of a sax after a day or two of trying (of course, my tone was, um, rather crappy).
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aero145
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:05 pm

I don’t know about the flute, but the clarinet and bassoon and oboe are extremely difficult instruments. On an advanced level, at least! When one figures out what valve to push and what embouchure to use while pushing that particular valve, brass instruments aren’t too bad.

Bassoon, for example, is pissingly (yes I made that word up) difficult. The embouchure is extremely difficult, and fingerings are even worse. Let’s take an example: The left thumb has between 9 and 12 levers to push. The left index finger has either to have its hole open, 1/4 closed, 2/4 closed, 3/4 closed, or completely closed, depending on what note one is playing. Try doing that at high speed! And when one mixes up sizes of hole, one gets a nice scratchy sound.

I would try out the flute or the trumpet to begin with!
 
Goldenshield
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:11 pm

I played brass (Trombone, Trumpet, Baritone, some French Horn) during Jr/Sr high. The trick to playing brass is having lots of drool.  Wink Yes, it's all about spitting the air out (while minimizing the actual spit) in order to make the lips vibrate.

It's been nearly 12 years since I've played the trombone. While I probably couldn't play like I used to right off the bat, I think I could do it on a basic-moderate level. Having played the cello for 2.5 years now, though, I find the trombone's range way too limited.
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Mir
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:33 pm



Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
I have tried to play brass instruments (trumpet and trombone), but due to my cleft palate (repaired but not completely), I find it impossible to make even the least sound when I blow into the mouthpiece. But I do get a lot of air leakage. How do you brass players get a sound out of it?

It's all about the vibration of the lips. If you can't do that, then unfortunately brass instruments are not going to be good for you.

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
If I invented a recorder-type/woodwind mouthpiece and attached it to a brass instrument (instead of the cup type mouthpiece), would it make it easier to blow, or would it ruin the sound? I have been thinking of how to modify a brass instrument in this way.

The problem I see with putting a woodwind mouthpiece on a brass instrument is that you're going to be very limited in the number of notes you can play. The reason that brass instruments have the range they do with a limited number of valves is that the player uses their lips to vary the air going into the instrument; a combination of lip shape and valves make the notes. A woodwind mouthpiece can't do this, which is why those instruments need all the keys to get a wide range of notes. As for the quality of the sound, I really don't know.

Of course, there is a brass/woodwind combination out there right now called the saxophone.

-Mir
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aero145
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:36 pm



Quoting Mir (Reply 7):
A woodwind mouthpiece can't do this

Oh yes it can! Much more than you think.

But you’re still correct about that it wouldn’t *work* with a brass instrument.  Wink
 
austinairport
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:08 am

I can't believe I missed this! I play Alto and Tenor Saxaphone, and I have to say that Woodwind (for me atleast) is much easier than Brass.
I played around on my brother trumpet for a while with no luck. I could never hardly get a sound!
I love playing the Sax. Its an amazing instrument, would recommend it to anyone looking to get into playing an instrument.
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Cadet57
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 3:24 am

I wanted to make a "skinflute" joke, but I diddnt think it was appropriate  Wink
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D L X
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:20 am

I've played woodwind (saxophone), string (viola), percussion (everything), piano, and brass (french horn) and can without a doubt say that the hardest instruments to master were the saxophone and viola. Brass instruments are easy! You just buzz the note you want, and play the right keys (there are only 8 combos, and many are duplicate) and voila!
 
TSS
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:33 am



Quoting Mir (Reply 7):
The problem I see with putting a woodwind mouthpiece on a brass instrument is that you're going to be very limited in the number of notes you can play. The reason that brass instruments have the range they do with a limited number of valves is that the player uses their lips to vary the air going into the instrument; a combination of lip shape and valves make the notes. A woodwind mouthpiece can't do this, which is why those instruments need all the keys to get a wide range of notes. As for the quality of the sound, I really don't know.

Very well put!  bigthumbsup 

Quoting Mir (Reply 7):
Of course, there is a brass/woodwind combination out there right now called the saxophone.

Ehhhhh... Although saxophones are made of brass, they still use a wooden reed to make the initial sound and have the same peculiar, Rube Goldberg-ian arrangement of valves and actuators that other woodwind instruments do. The majority of flutes today are made of brass (or at least metal) and have no reed at all, yet they're still considered "woodwinds".

SmithAir747, I would never have guessed that a repaired cleft palate might hinder one's ability to make the ordinarily rude "thbbbbbbbt" sound that is necessary for regular brass instruments, so once again you've expanded my mind a bit. As for my own experience, in my senior year we had "turnabout", wherein the woodwind players tried brass instruments and vice-versa, I found that I was better on a trumpet the first time I picked one up than I was on a saxophone after three years of regular practice... so I'd say try both and see which one suits you better.
I would also add that pretty much any time you hear a saxophone carry a melody in popular music, it's a tenor sax. As an alto sax player, I got very good at both counting out measures and coming in at just the right moment for an occasional *honk* and at playing the harmony part of pieces of music... which tends to sound rather odd when played by itself during practice. One exception to the tenor sax rule is Kenny G, who plays a "modern" (straight, like an oboe, as opposed to older ones that are curved like an alto or tenor sax) soprano saxophone. Kenny G also plays his saxophone with the side of his mouth, not the center, so maybe that method might work better for you as well.
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787seattle
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:06 am

I play the mellophone and french horn, but used to play trumpet. I've tried to play a clarinet before but that didn't turn out so well. Once I tried to make a note on a flute, but that didn't turn out so well. I have a feeling that the reason I can't play a woodwind is that I don't practice and there's a big difference in one's embouchure. Speaking of which, why are flutes considered woodwinds when they are almost all metal?
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:58 am

I've been playing clarinet for 9 years now. I've found the precision of fingerings on a woodwind to be easier than changing how I buzz. I'm not terribly good at brass instruments. My only issue on woodwind instruments are low notes on saxes. I've been told I have chops of steel, and I can consistently hit the highest of notes on clarinet, but loosening up for a really low note on sax is just too unnatural.
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austinairport
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:28 am



Quoting N776AU (Reply 14):
My only issue on woodwind instruments are low notes on saxes. I've been told I have chops of steel, and I can consistently hit the highest of notes on clarinet, but loosening up for a really low note on sax is just too unnatural.

Drop your jaw, and blow like hell.. HA! That sounds gross!
But in all serious just drop your jaw, I've gotten notes that aren't even in most books fingering charts.  Big grin
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Carlisle
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:22 pm

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
but due to my cleft palate (repaired but not completely), I find it impossible to make even the least sound



Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
what is easier for you to play?

I also have (a minor) cleft palate, so I can (somewhat) understand where you are coming from. Personally, I found woodwinds easier and more comfortable to play with a decent emboucher.

I've played a few from each group as I could never decide which instrument I wanted to play "full time" in band. (I started out in a school system that had an orchestra so I took on the cello / bass as I had a lot of inspiration from '80s MTV music videos with artists having cellos / basses, e.g., Sting & The Police. I eventually moved out of state to a school system that only had band so it was play a wind instrument in school and save the strings for the community's Jr. Symphony Orch.)

I love the Oboe, French Horn, Trombone, and Euphonium (Mini Baratone Tuba.) I also did some E-flat Alto Sax for Marching Band however, when I found out that I was going to be the Symphonic Band's (String) Bass Player later on, I had my decision set. Having the experience with all the instruments was fun and if I ever happen to be around one of them, I'll pick it up and start fiddling with it, pun slightly inteded. (One instrument I really wanted to get my hands on was an English Horn.)

Carlisle

[Edited 2009-07-28 05:24:24]
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baguy
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:41 pm



Quoting Aero145 (Reply 5):
I don’t know about the flute

I play the flute - it is very much like riding a bike (like most instruments i guess) At first, it is REALLY difficult to get a sound of, but once you've got it it's easy!

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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:31 pm

I've been pondering the oboe for a while now, but looking at the cost of a cheap student model, I could buy a decent violin AND viola of moderate quality, so that puts me off a little bit. However, I do want to learn the violin and viola to compliment the cello, so I guess it's not so bad.
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 3:42 pm



Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 18):
I've been pondering the oboe for a while now, but looking at the cost of a cheap student model,

Cost of the oboe is indeed a problem. But it is a challenge well worth overcoming.  Smile

Even better, find a cor anglais - superb timbre. I bought one of the old Kneller Hall oboes with high pitch (British Army regulation pitch for woodwinds A451.9) and borrowed a 440 instrument for concerts. The cor anglais I was loaned was a magnificent rosewood instrument. One advantage of the oboe is that since it is so difficult to adjust the pitch, provided the orchestra is not playing a piano concerto you get to dictate the pitch for everyone else. I used to like that!!  listen 
 
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:06 pm

I played Clarinet for 2 years and played Tuba/Souzaphone for 7 years in high school and college.

I did quite well at both, but I had more success with the Tuba, and made all-state, tri-state and all-county bands.

But if you can't make your lips vibrate, brass is out of the question.
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seb146
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RE: Which Is Easier To Play: Brass Or Woodwind?

Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:54 pm

My computer crashed, but now that I have a (temporary) computer, it is good to be back! Now, on to the thread:

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
If you play a wind instrument (brass or woodwind), what is easier for you to play?

I played bassoon and flute in high school. I tried claranet and saxophone. All were easy for me. Trombone and trumpet, however, were not. I had such a hard time with the trumpet (I played for one year) and tried trombone a couple of times. The hardest thing, for me, was getting octaves on the reed instruments. The flute was even easier for me.
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