Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
This post, “Fun with Music: Brass Instruments”, is written in collaboration with Shannon Wijnker, who used to blog on Mamamusing. Shannon is a music teacher and mother of four.
Every instrument is important in a band or orchestra setting but, I must admit, my personal favorites are the brass instruments. I love the showy high notes of the screaming trumpet, the s-l-i-d-e of the trombone and the oompa, oompa of the big tuba. I could listen to brass music all day. I rented the 1957 movie, The Music Man, just so I could watch the performance of Seventy-six Trombones, as I was preparing for these posts. In preparing your child for this activity read Brass (Instruments and Music) by Daniel Nunn. There is more information about this book below in the Story Time section.
I have been blessed with a family of brass players. Both of my daughters played trumpet while in school. My husband’s primary instrument is the tuba but he can play all the brass instruments quite well. I have been able to experience many different settings with brass instruments. Both of the girls participated in marching band and my husband plays in a symphony, a concert band, a couple of big bands and a quintet. Oh, how I love music.
When my girls were babies I wouldn’t let them blow raspberries. You know…when you stick your tongue out and blow air through your lips to make that vibrating sound? I didn’t allow them because, although it might be cute when they are babies, when they get older and blow a raspberry in someone’s face, it is no longer cute or funny. I didn’t see any reason for confusing them by approving of raspberries when they were babies just to turn around and reprimand them when they got older. What I did let them do was to buzz their lips…the way you make a motorboat sound; similar to a raspberry but no tongue. The reason I let them do this was because it would build the muscles they would need to blow through a brass instrument. Knowing how to buzz your lips is essential in learning to play any brass instruments. I didn’t know if they would grow up to be brass players but I wanted to help them develop the skills they might need in the future.
Encourage your child to make motorboat sounds. Have them practice them in the pool or the bathtub. Have your child try tightening their lips and making a motorboat sound, then loosening their lips and trying again. Do they hear the difference in the sounds?
If your child doesn’t all ready have a toy trumpet or some sort of horn, make one from the craft section below. Then let them march around and pretend to play their brass instrument.
Shannon from Mamamusing suggests that you use YouTube to view the different instruments. Then you and your child can see and hear them.
Trumpet from Toilet Paper Roll
Toilet paper roll
Yellow or gold cardstock or cardboard
Yellow duct tape
1) Take a piece of wax paper and place it over one end of the toilet paper roll.
2) Tape the wax paper to the outside of the toilet paper roll. You might want to use a rubber band to hold the wax paper in place while you tape it. Then remove the rubber band.
3) Print 2 copies of the Trumpet template and cut them out or print one copy and use it as a pattern to cut 2 copies from your yellow cardboard or cardstock.
4) Spread glue on the straight (not flared) part of the yellow paper. I alternated stripes of glue stick and white glue. The glue stick helps hold it still but the white glue gives a stronger hold once it dries.
5) Glue the 2 trumpet templates to the toilet paper roll with the bell (the flared part) towards the end that has the wax paper on on. Use rubber bands to hold in place until completely dry. (I glued one piece on and let it dry some before I tried adding the second piece.)
6) Use scotch tape or duct tape to tape the two sides of the bell together. I made a slight fold along the edge of the bell and then taped that over the other section of bell. I thought it helped give the bell a little bit rounder shape.
7) Wrap a piece of duct tape around the narrow end (mouthpiece) of the trumpet. This will help keep the cardboard from getting soggy if your child puts the mouthpiece inside their mouth.
8) This trumpet is simply a fun toy. It works like a kazoo; your child hums into the mouthpiece to produce their music.
The idea for this craft was adapted from the blog, “Bible Story Hour”.
Empty 2 liter soda bottle
Single serve soda bottle with same size mouth as the 2 liter bottle
45 inch length of 1 inch diameter, flexible clear plastic tubing ( I purchased mine at Lowes)
2 Large wooden craft sticks (tongue depressor size)
yellow duct tape
1. Cut off the top third of the 2 liter bottle. This will be the bell of the bugle.
2. From the single serve soda bottle, cut off the mouthpiece. This will serve as the mouthpiece to your bugle.
3. Insert the mouthpiece of the 2 liter bottle into the end of the tubing to form the bell.
4. On the other end of the tubing insert the part of the single serve bottle that you cut off into the tubing. This leaves the mouthpiece of the single serve soda bottle to be used as the mouthpiece of your bugle.
5. Cut the two wooden craft sticks in half. These are going to be used to brace the top of the bugle loop.
6. Loop the tubing around and use a piece of tape to secure it. Then place 2 halves of the tongue depressor on top of the loop (laying across both pieces of tubing). Tape around the the top of the loop and the tongue depressor. Repeat with the other two pieces of tongue depressor on the underneath side of the loops. This will hold the loop together and give you a nice sturdy place to put your hand.
7. To get a sound out of your bugle you will have to use the skills that any brass player uses. You will need to buzz your lips as you blow through the mouthpiece. You should not be puffing out your cheeks because the air does not come from your cheeks, it comes from your lungs and diaphragm.
8. Have fun with your new bugle!
Take your children to any place that live music is being played. In Indianapolis, you can find many places that give free outdoor concerts during the summer. Maybe you have the same opportunities in your area. Outdoor concerts are a great way to introduce your children to live music because they can sit in their own lawn chair, on a blanket or even get up and dance around a little. Maybe you have older children or neighbors that participate in a school band. Take your children to see them. Expose your children to many types of music. Take the time to talk about what they are hearing, how it makes them feel and the different instruments they are seeing and hearing.
Ben’s Trumpet by Rachel Isadora
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
Ben lives near the Zig Zag Jazz Club. He sits on his fire escape at night and listens to the music. He plays his trumpet right along with them. During the day, he goes over to the jazz club and watches the musicians practice. He constantly plays his horn for everyone in the family. One day some neighbor kids started making fun of Ben because Ben’s trumpet was pretend. The trumpeter from the Zig Zag Jazz Club happens to notice that Ben has stopped playing his trumpet. When he asks Ben why he isn’t playing his trumpet, Ben tells him that he doesn’t have a trumpet. Take time to pick this book up and find out how the trumpeter from the Zig Zag Jazz Club helps Ben out.
Brass (Instruments and Music) by Daniel Nunn
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
This book makes a great introduction into brass instruments. The text is simply a sentence or two on each page. The illustrations are actual pictures of brass instruments and people playing them. Your child will get to see the many different sizes and shapes of brass instruments. They will also learn that some brass instruments aren’t made out of brass at all but made out of wood. Since you have to buzz your lips to play the wooden horns, just like the brass horns they get included with the brass instruments. As an added bonus, there is an illustration of how to make your own horn. Have fun learning about brass instruments.
Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
Piggie gets a trumpet and wants to show his friend Elephant what he can do on his trumpet. He blows and blows and all kinds of sounds come out of the horn, but is it music? Find out what Elephant has to say about Piggie’s playing and how Piggie responds.
Tubby the Tuba by Paul Tripp
Reading Level: Ages 4 and up
Tubby the Tuba is part of the orchestra and he wants to play more than just oompah, oompah. He believes he could play a beautiful melody too but none of the other instruments believe him. Follow Tubby through his disappointments and how meeting a certain bullfrog turned his musical achievements around. The copy of the book that I borrowed from the library had a CD with it. Although I would encourage reading the book to your child a couple of times before using the CD, I strongly recommend having your child listen to the CD as well. The CD is the story with an orchestra playing along, so your child can hear a tuba, trumpet, violin and many other instruments. This story holds a special place in my heart because my husband is a tuba player and he agrees with Tubby that tubas can play more than oompah, oompah. He enjoys playing flute solos on his tuba. A lesson to be learned: Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t. If you believe in something, give it a try. You might give yourself and the people around you a whole new wonderful experience.
Music at an Early Age by Shannon at Mamamusing
Fun with Music – Overview
Fun with Music – Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Woodwind Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: String Instruments
Fun with Music: Keyboards