Brass Instruments Uncoiled

Do you like to measure things? In this activity, you will use brass instruments to measure everyday items. Sounds strange doesn't it?

The first brass instrument that we know about is a trumpet found in a drawing in King Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt dating to 1500 B.C. - over three thousand years ago. The Egyptian trumpet was a long, straight tube made of silver or bronze, and was four feet long. This instrument could produce only a few tones. As the trumpet evolved (evolved - developed gradually over time), it became longer and was coiled to make the instrument easier to hold. Later, valves and tubing were added to let the players play all of the notes in the scale.


What You Need

  1. Pictures of the trumpettromboneFrench horn, and tuba
  2. A yardstick or ruler


What You Do

  1. Click on the links listed above to see pictures of the trumpet, trombone, French horn and tuba. How long do you think each instrument would be when unrolled or uncoiled?
  2. Do you see any connection in the length of each instrument to the sound of each instrument? The longer the tubing of each brass instrument, the lower the sound of the instrument. Therefore, the trumpet plays higher pitches or sounds than the tuba.
  3. Now using the copy of the" Brass instruments Uncoiled Chart" that you printed off, can you figure out how many trumpet lengths make up your kitchen table or a desk in your home. For example, my dinner table is two trumpets long. (My dinner table is 12 ft. long.) What about your bed? How many trombones does it take to walk from your room to the kitchen? What about your backyard or driveway? How many French horns would it take to go from your house to school? What other items or distances can you measure sing brass instruments?

Something Else

Have you ever tried to play a brass instrument before? Try "Buzzing Brass Mouthpiece" to find out how to make your own mouthpiece like the ones brass players use, and learn how to use it.