Thanks to Allison of the Houston Symphony Education Coordinator, students enjoyed a brass instrument session in music class. The students listened, learned, and played the trombone, trumpet, and French horn. In addition, the Mustangs and Explorers tried to play the flute, which is difficult to play compared to the brass instruments because of the need for a very tight embouchure.
To start, we worked on buzzing with our lips, like blowing a raspberry and learning the basic brass embouchure by putting the lips together. There were lots of laughter as students sprayed spit on themselves while vibrating their lips. I played each brass instrument for the students and then they had a chance to try each of them. We compared mouthpiece sizes of all three brass instruments, pointing out that they are different, smaller one for the french horn and larger one for the trombone.
In the Zebra, Giraffes, and Bears class, several of the students had difficulty producing a sound on the brass instruments. With my guidance, “lip inside the mouthpiece” or “put your lips together, like you are kissing,” students were successful in making the instrument sound. With each student’s success, their peers cheered them on! It was so exciting to hear them encourage each other to play.
The Mustangs and Explorers had the option to rotate around and try all the instruments. Each student was each responsible for cleaning the instrument’s mouthpiece with a wipe before playing it to prevent spreading germs. It was loud, rhythmic, and had musical potential. They all pointed out that the flute was the most difficult to play and loved the big brass instruments.
Through the brass experience, students worked their oral motor skills, connecting their breathing and diaphragm to be able to produce a sound. Some were able to produce long beautiful tones while others played short sounds with each breath they took. They were so excited to play them all! Many of the students named at least one of them or all of them as their favorite. There are certainly some strong brass players in the bunch and have a future in it.