02 December 2016 | 7 °C

Where To Learn Brass Instruments In London

Where To Learn Brass Instruments In London

There are two main reasons to learn brass instruments. The first is that learning instruments is good for the body, mind and soul as well as a splendid way to let off steam (literally, in this case). The second is so that you can make that hilarious up-down-up sound with a trombone that perfectly accompanies people falling over like this.

A slight difference between brass and other families of instruments is that learning one often provides you the basic skills of others, and as a result many tutors are proficient in a number of these instruments. With that in mind we've hand-picked a worthy tutor or two for each instrument. You're more than welcome to name others (or yourself) in the comments below.

You'll be doing this in no time. Photo: Simon Goldsworthy.

Cornet

The cornet is the second highest-sounding brass instrument, behind only the trumpet. It's more compact in shape than its more famous cousin, but has a mellower tone making it an interesting choice if you're the type not to follow the crowd. Because the crowd are all learning the trumpet these days, so we've heard.

Tom Harrison is a cornet (and trumpet) teacher based in Barbican. He is a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and offers a fiver discount off your first lesson, and he'll travel reasonable distances in London to impart his cornet knowledge.

Flugelhorn

The flugelhorn is a trumpet-like instrument with a wider bore (its interior chamber) and a mellower sound. It's more commonly found in popular music than in an orchestra, and it has the most amusing name of any of the instruments here.

And our recommended tutor sums up that many brass aficionados can turn their hand to multiple instruments, but as Wayne Martin specifically mentions the flugelhorn in his ad he wins the coveted mention here. He teaches at schools in West Brompton and Finchley and he's based in Hendon, though he will travel around town to spread the music of the mighty flugelhorn.

Photo: Andrew Smith.

French Horn

The French horn may be the instrument in this list that is easiest on the eye with its graceful curves and peculiar symmetry. You couldn't tell to glance at it but the French horn is made up of over six metres of tubing, and confusingly is actually of German origin. It is the third highest-sounding brass instrument after the trumpet and cornet.

Julia MacDonnell is one of London's masters of this fine instrument. She's played with various orchestras (and bands of note such as Dry The River) since relocating to Europe from Australia, including the Bloomsbury Opera, the Beethoven Ensemble and l'Orchestre de la Cité Internationale in Paris. Now based in Canonbury, Julia's lessons can be scheduled flexibly according to your availability.

Trombone

Perhaps the archetypal brass instrument with the classic slide mechanism. And if the flugelhorn has the comedy name, the trombone probably has the most chucklesome sound — don't try and convince us you've ever heard a trombone without thinking of the theme from Johnny Briggs.

Such a lovable instrument deserves to be learned properly, though you'd have to be eyeing a serious orchestral career to pick the full-time, three-year degree at the London Centre of Contemporary Music. Otherwise, the Arts Academy offers lessons with Trinity College postgraduate Amanda Michell, who has played with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Concert Orchestra.

Photo: Andrew Smith.

Tuba

The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched of the brass instruments. It has similar dimensions to a medium-sized child, though we don't recommend you treat the two similarly because you just can't play catch with a tuba.

One of the most accomplished tuba tutors we've tracked down in the capital is Omer Plotniarz, a Hackney-based graduate of Goldsmith's College who has played in the National Theatre and with bands all over the world. Omer will also provide tuition in music theory in the unlikely event you'd rather play this splendid instrument with your brain rather than your hands.

Euphonium

The euphonium is a 'sweet-voiced' instrument with a conical bore. It is described as having a dark, rich, warm and velvety sound, words more often used to describe wine if you're into tasting it rather than knocking it back. It is believed to have evolved from the serpent, the oldest ancestor of all low brass instruments.

It is to a large degree interchangeable with other brass instruments, particularly the baritone horn, but if it's the euphonium you're keen on you could turn to one of these versatile guys for a lesson or two.

Be as cool at this chap. Photo: John Morrill.

Trumpet

Arguably the most well-known of the brass instruments, it also produces the highest-pitched sound of any of the brass family.

There are plenty of trumpet tutors and courses across the capital, among them Rocco, who teaches both classical and jazz trumpet.

A special mention goes to London Metropolitan Brass, who run a special training band for keen beginners looking to learn the basics of brass.

Last Updated 17 October 2016

Nick Duff

And when we are suitably good on our instruments, can you suggest brass bands, big bands, wind bands or orchestras to join in London?

ENJO English Jazz Orchestra

ENJO English Jazz Orchestra's educational programme is looking for brass players www.englishjazzorchestra.co.uk

London People's Orchestra N14

London People's Orchestra www.londonpeoplesorchestra.co.... provides learner to intermediate performance opportunities for brass players in London N14

Tammy Jones

any ensembles that need saxophone players?? can't seem to find any in London. I would think it would be quite easy

Simon Goldsworthy

Thanks for the picture credit and thanks to Oompah Brass for being such good sports a few weeks back when the main image was taken outside the Gherkin

Henry Lau

No tips for the saxophone?