Teaching about the Brass Family Using Technology

Teaching about the Brass Family using Technology

Steven Schopp
[email protected]

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Instructional Music Software




General Music


Classroom computer
Computer LCD projector
PowerPoint software
Brass PowerPoint Introduction
Sibelius Instruments software
Internet Access


45 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:


NAfME Standards of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standards of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 

NAfME Standards of 1994: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

NAfME 2014: Connections


At least one brass instrument

Brass Mouthpiece

Stereo CD player with appropriate examples of brass music:
La Peri, Paul Dukas
Soundtrack from Brassed Off
Procession of the Nobles Rimsky-Korsakov



Students will be able to identify, by sight and sound, the brass family of musical instruments in the orchestra and band.

Students will become familiar with the types of ensembles and solo performance situations where brass instruments are used in the community.


This lesson will fulfill the brass portion of the curricular unit on Instruments of the Band and Orchestra. Students will also learn about uses of brass instruments (weddings, herald trumpet fanfares, taps at funerals, brass marching bands, etc.) that go beyond large concert ensembles.


Anticipatory Set:

As students enter the room, La Peri, by Paul Dukas will be playing.


The teacher will introduce the lesson with a PowerPoint slide presentation. The PowerPoint consists of a slide on how brass instruments produce sound and slides for each instrument in the brass family. Each slide contains a sound clip of the instrument.

With the how brass produces sound slide, the teacher will play the sound clip of buzzing lips into the mouthpiece followed by the sound clip of buzzing into the mouthpiece & horn to produce a tone.

Students will be asked to buzz their lips, without puffing cheeks, to produce the buzzing sound.

The teacher will demonstrate buzzing with and without the mouthpiece and them produce a sound on a brass instrument. (If the teacher does not play brass, a student or another teacher could assist)

Each instrument will be discussed in detail as the slide is shown. At the beginning and end of each discussion, the demonstration sound clip will be played.

Using the Sibelius Instruments in the Sibelius Educational Suite, students will be shown the position of the brass section in orchestra, concert band and brass band.

As they view the ensemble set up in Sibelius Instruments, examples will be played of brass sections in each large ensemble as follows:
Orchestra/Band ö Procession of the Nobles

Brass Band ö Brassed Off Soundtrack

Students will be asked to explore ways in which brass instruments are used other than in bands and orchestras (this may include jazz, pop, ceremonial solos, etc.).

The Internet will be used to research these uses, either in class if sufficient computers are available, or as a homework assignment. The following websites will be suggested:



d. www.iteaonline.org

e. www.frhorn.com

f. Keywords for Google search:
Herald trumpet
Jazz trumpet (or trombone, etc.)
Bugle calls


Check For Student Understanding:

The teacher will play pieces with obvious examples of each instrument (e.g. solos) for students to identify. The sound clips on the PowerPoint may be used if the projector is turned off.

Students will be asked the results of their research and discuss why a particular brass instrument would be used in that way (e.g. herald trumpet for a fanfare or wedding or trombone for a jazz solo).

Follow Up:


As the curriculum specifies instruments of the orchestra, this same lesson can be created for the string, woodwind and percussion families with appropriate examples.

On days following this lesson, players of various brass instruments might be invited in for a demonstration and discussion of their instrument.

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