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Brass Playing a brass/second instrument


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I've been playing saxophone for a number of years now and I am interested in starting another instrument. I can play basic piano pieces and have dabbled in clarinet but I am quite interested in learning a brass instrument.
However, when discussing this with a friend, who plays flute, she said that it's very hard to be very good at a brass and a woodwind instrument due to differences in embouchre.
Does anyone play sax and a brass instrument (or knows someone who does) who could give me some advice?

P.S. If a brass instrument doesn't work I also thought about bassoon but I know how expensive they can be.

to my knowledge it's difficult (but not impossible) to 'perfect' both types of instrument, since you're training overlapping muscle groups to work in slightly different ways.
It's easy enough to play both, it just depends if you want to be doing so at a high standard. I have a trumpet and get it out a couple of times a year. I can still knock a tune out, but my tone is terrible and my range is not large.

Playing both every day should be enough... As TomMapfumo about his sax/brass experiences...

My first posting for a long time ! I was a brass player for many years, trumpet, cornet and tenor horn, before changing to sax. I would say that the brass instruments are more physically demanding that sax and need more frequent practice to keep a good embouchure. But it can be done. Think about Benny Carter. Better known as a sax man but in his younger days a superb trumpeter as well. Even into his 80's he could out-play many younger people on sax and was still pretty good on trumpet. I would say that if you feel the need then go for it, but make sure you get a decent instrument, there's a lot of rubbish about.
Good luck.
I was raised (musically) according to the creed of "stick to one wind instrument, or you'll ruin your embouchure".

Maybe - depending on how precious (and just how much of a specialist) you want to be. For most of us, I don't think it's that much of an issue, you've just got to get used to changing. Flute was my first main instrument, and when I first started playing saxophone I felt like I needed a day's break before I could play the flute again. These days that's not an issue, and hasn't been for a long time (despite the fact that I only practise the flute just before a gig - maybe).

Then there's the matter of employment. Orchestral wind player (not a lot of opportunities for sax players) can specialise. Play in most other sorts of "paying" bands, and it's an advantage to double. Play one of the "reed" books for a Broadway type musical and it's a necessity.
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I have answered the call.........

There is NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER in playing a brass instrument alongside a sax. Sound wise a Trumpet/Cornet/Flugelhorn has a very similar range to an Alto Sax, and a tenor trombone has a very similar range to a Baritone Sax/Bass guitar. Both brass instruments are more physically demanding than a sax to play and require more breath, but means that your sax playing will develop greatly - endurance/breath control/dynamic wise - I can play very quietly, very loudly and with greater control in my sound. Trumpet etc, is in Bb, Trombone is in concert pitch as piano/guitar etc.

It is harder to play trumpet and trombone at the same time than it is to play sax and one other at the same time. With Sax you primarily blow air into the instrument and the rest is done with the keys. With a brass instrument much more is done by the mouth/embouchure, and much less with the keys - the trombone only uses my right wrist, the trumpet uses three fingers. Decent instruments can be picked up new for about £300 ( John Packer, Yamaha and Bauhaus Walstein have excellent quality instruments). PM me with any particular queries.

With brass you simply need to be consistent about practice as the embouchure is more crucial to maintain than on sax, and is crucial in order to maintain your range of higher and lower notes, which takes time to develop.

Hope this helps. For me it was important to have the right sort of motivation in order to decide what to play, so would be good to listen to different musicians to see what you think.

Trumpet - Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker, Nils Petter Molvaer, Eric Truffaz, Tomasz Stanko, Jonny Bruce and others.
Trombone - Dennis Rollins, Samuel Blaser, Nils Landgren, Don Drummond, Rico Rodriguez, Bob Brookmeyer etc.

Kind regards

Apologies to Phil for not noticing earlier!;}
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Gavin Fitzjohn, who is in Paolo Nutini's band, plays both sax and trumpet in the same pro gigs! My own experience is that people with a classical background say that things can't be done & that people with a jazz background say "why not ?"

I suspect that it is common for Woodwind players to play more than one woodwind instrument (Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Flute is very common), and Brass players play more than one brass instrument (Trumpet & Trombone, Trombone & Tuba,and many other combinations). It is simply less common to cross over. I cannot imagine that the same skill/embouchure is involved in playing Baritone sax and piccolo flute, so think that it is more a socio-cultural thing which was probably the result of orchestral music, and people having an identity based on membership of an individual section. Similarly many schools would have either a Wind Band or a Brass Band, but very few (in UK anyway) have Jazz quartets/quintets/sextets or combinations of guitar/bass/drums together with a horn section (sax, trumpet, & trombone or tenor sax, alto sax & trumpet.

Kind regards

Thanks so much for all the replies, it's been really interesting (and enlightening) reading them all. I'm really glad that it seems playing a brass instrument and sax isn't a huge issue, I suppose with most things it just takes some time getting used to.
I've always wanted to play a brass instrument as well as sax (they just seem more exciting than a flute or clarinet) and I think now I will seriously consider doing so, I just have to decide which one!

Thanks again,
In my motorcycling days, I often used to ride bikes owned by other people. There were always differences - weight, brake sensitivity and the big killer - footbrake and gear lever were usually different - left foot brake/right gear change, right foot brake/left gearchange - and the gears may be down for go up or up to go down.... Riding one bike exclusively made it difficult to adjust. Riding a few with different patterns made it easy, as long as you kept half a mind on what you were doing. I've found the same between alto and tenor sax, where embouchure and breath control are really different - and when going back to tin whictle, where a much lower pressure is needed. Keeping current is OK. But playing just one makes the others difficult. I think you'll be fine, as long as you keep your skills up on all instruments.
Don't forget the good old tenor horn. Embouchure not as demanding as a trumpet and not as plodding as a tuba (sorry all you tuba players, but you know what I mean:))

If you really want to work on intonation go for a trombone.
What are your particular musical interests - it does sound as if you lean towards the classical, but I may be inaccurate. I enjoy being able to play most of the horns in a horn section, and the different roles involved, but you must keep up regular contact with the instruments, especially the case with brass, as said above.

The Flugelhorn is a lovely instrument, BTW, as OG says.

Kind regards
Hi again,

In reply to TomMapfumo's last comment - I'm interested in all types of music, I play in a wind and big band but I've been taking jazz grades. I think one of the thing that appeals about an instrument such as trumpet or trombone is that you have the option of playing in a jazz group and an orchestra. I was also wondering if skills learnt on a valve instrument like trumpet are easily transferable to other valve instruments, like swapping between alto and tenor saxes (obviously the techniques are slightly different but it's not as hard to pick up as when you're starting afresh).

Hi Beth!

I'm up to Grade 5 Jazz in Sax, Trumpet & Trombone - great fun. Broadly speaking the valve skills are transferable - several instruments require a slight difference in embouchure, but using valves is a key skill in terms of flexibility, fluidity and speed. Trombone is different altogether, but so much fun. Sounds like it would increase your range of options. Embouchure is the big difference - many people "smile" in order to play a trumpet, but have to "frown" when playing trombone. One of my favourite trombonists is Annie Whitehead, who may be worth a google search. She has produced a lovely CD with Trombone, Guitar, Violin, Piano, Percussion and Concertina - lovely sounds!

Kind regards

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