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Great Lakes 

School of Music LLC

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Playing Brass is Lots Of Fun No Matter What Reason You Are Studying!

Benefits of Playing a Brass Instrument

Music is an important part of our lives. We hear it all around us, in our homes on the television,

in our cars driving around, in restaurants and stores as background music. It enriches our lives.

Someone has to make that music. There are many educational, emotional, and physical

benefits to playing an instrument, both as an individual and as part of an ensemble. Here are

just a few of the many benefits of playing a brass instrument.

1. Joy - Even early on when playing an instrument, that experience of finally making a

sound can be incredibly encouraging to students. While it may take a while to get a

good sound, just the joy of making noises for many kids is enough. With patience

(another benefit of playing an instrument) and practice, they will soon be playing

songs they recognize.

2. Confidence - The more students play, the better they will get. It will build their

self-confidence. Yes, there will be some nerves at first (I used to get hiccups before

every concert in grade school) when performing for others, but over time, the nerves

will be less severe.

3. Organization and Time Management Skills - Playing an instrument takes dedication

and consistency. Students will learn to schedule a time every day to practice. Younger

students should start out with smaller increments of time, like 15 minutes twice a day,

and build up to an hour, or more, a day (between personal and ensemble practice,

usually more). Being able to plan and set aside time during the day will help them

learn to set aside time for other important things, including school work, chores, and

even other hobbies.

4. Friendships - Once a student joins a band or orchestra, there is an instant

connection. They all have music in common. Strong friendships will build out of long

hours of band camps, rehearsals, and performances. If you ask any former band kid,

they will often say some of their best memories were with the friends they made in

different ensembles.

5. Cooperation/Teamwork - As part of an ensemble, cooperation and teamwork are

crucial. Everyone has to work together, playing their part. The melody is important, but

so is the harmony. The parts have to balance, one can’t overshadow the other. The

4th chair player is JUST as important as the 1st chair player.

6. Experiences - Beyond the actual experience of performing, students may have the

chance to travel and see other places with a music ensemble. Some marching bands

get to travel to other parts of the state or country to be in a parade. Some other

ensembles, like the Brass Choir I was in while in college, played in the National

Cathedral in Washington DC. Many groups play for nursing homes and hospitals,

which can circle back to joy, by bringing music to others. Some ensembles travel to

other countries for band tours and music festivals.

7. Better Posture- There are many health benefits to playing instruments. One of the

most elemental is posture. Students develop better posture, as they have to sit or

stand properly to hold the instrument to play it properly.

8. Strengthen Lungs and Respiratory System - This is crucial for brass players. By

developing good breath support, by breathing “down through their bellies to their toes”

and learning to control their diaphragm, the students will develop a stronger, more

controlled sound. I often ask my students, “Which is larger, your mouth or your

stomach?” They always say their stomach. So I ask them to have their stomach do

more of the work. If a student tries too hard, especially trying to hit those high notes by

pushing the mouthpiece against their mouth, it only cuts off the sound, because they

can’t buzz to make the sound.

9. Exercise and Muscle Control - Playing music is physical. Students are using

muscles, just like in sports. They will improve fine motor control when learning the

fingerings and develop a physical memory of where the notes are, both with the

fingers and their embouchure (fancy word for the mouth position while playing). It

takes strong arm muscles to hold that instrument up during marching band. Marching

band will also strengthen their legs and coordination.

10. Reading Skills - Music is its own language, but learning to read music helps the brain

make connections and transfers to reading and learning in general. Studies have

shown that students who are in music ensembles tend to have better grades and

confidence in school.

11. Math - Music is math. Music can help with counting and patterns. Students have to

count the beat, have to break the beat down into the rhythms (which are fractions),

and count rests. Sometimes many measures of rest and to know when to come back

into the piece.

12. Mental Health - Last, but not least, playing music has been shown to help reduce

stress, insomnia, and depression. It provides an emotional outlet, along with all the

physical benefits, that can lead to better overall mental health as well.

Shari Armstrong

Brass Instructor

Great Lakes School of Music LLC