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Brass for Beginners® and The Wallace Collection

We are delighted to be collaborating with the Chicago-based developers of the Brass for Beginners® programme, enabling it to be scalable and transferable to meet the UK’s early learning music education requirements.

Brass for Beginners® is a cross-disciplinary method for learning the fundamentals of brass playing using the natural trumpet (a modern-day polymer version manufactured as an integral part of the programme) as the primary teaching tool.  By combining learning to play the instruments with additional lesson resources, the class is engaged with the story of ‘Ragnar’, a hypothetical trumpeter, travelling through history, and enabling the programme to effortlessly integrate with topics of history, geography, mythology, philosophy, religion and science.

John Wallace commented: “In looking at ways of expanding the US programme, to meet and exceed UK educational criteria, it can be seen that there is also wide scope to involve visiting professional musicians to offer essential CPD for staff;  positively engage students in a cross-curricula approach; and successfully facilitate the benchmarks for Wider Opportunities within schools.”

John has been working on the scheme with the organisation and believes that its use of natural trumpets, in conjunction with a story-driven approach, whilst incorporating cross-curriculum topics is a recipe for success in championing brass music in the UK’s primary schools.


Ragnar in early orchestra
Ragnar with bison horn

Why Brass for Beginners®?

Brass is pervasive in almost every cultural and historical context throughout human history, and the experience of playing brass is unique from any other instrument family, yet only a small percentage of school children have the opportunity to learn a brass instrument. Brass for Beginners® provides creative solutions that unlock students’ creative and technical potential to play brass.

Developed over the past decade in programmes in the US, Brass for Beginners® makes use of the natural trumpet (a modified child-friendly version) and an interdisciplinary methodology to jump-start the development of aural skills and fundamental brass technique necessary for success on any of the modern brass instruments.  To support the programme, a range of products have been developed:

  • Programme Books:
    US and UK Student and Teacher Editions
    (available in both hard copy and E-book)
  • Classroom materials:
    Rewards Stickers
    Classroom Posters
  • Instruments:
    BFB Tromba™ (polymer natural trumpet)
    BFB Buffalo Horn
  • Online Resources:
    Play-along Sound Files
    Teacher Resources
    Instructional Videos
A Brass for Beginners class trying out some earlier prototypes of the programme's natural trumpet.
A Brass for Beginners class trying out some earlier prototypes of the programme’s natural trumpet.
Brass playing for all - it works for adults too.
Brass playing for all – it works for adults too.
Lots of happy faces from a session on prototype natural trumpets.
Lots of happy faces from a session on prototype natural trumpets.
A Brass Odyssey Book cover1
The BFB Tromba - a replica polymer natural trumpet.
The BFB Tromba – a replica polymer natural trumpet.
Gigging, the natural (trumpet) way!
Gigging, the natural (trumpet) way!

New! Brass for Beginners® in action …

New! … the results speak for themselves

Find Out More

John Wallace Interview

Read about John’s work with the programme’s authors, in an interview in Music Teacher – the UK’s leading music education publication.  Discussing the programme’s approachability in structure and resources, and its relevance to enhancing early years brass music education within the primary school classroom.

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“It was success in the US, and growing interest there and abroad, that led us to want to make both the instruments and the programme more widely available.”

Get In Touch

If you would like to discuss the programme for the UK in more detail, please do contact us with your questions. 

In addition, to keep automatically up to date with future developments on Brass for Beginners®, and The Wallace Collection in general, you can also subscribe to our mailing list.

Launch Events

Watch for the launch of the newly manufactured instruments and the revised Brass for Beginners® curriculum “Around the World in Twenty-One Trumpets: A Brass Odyssey”, at these upcoming international events:

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EMAP Exhibition
7-8 February, 2017
Museo de la Ciencia
Valladolid, Spain

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Music & Drama
Education Expo
9-10 February, 2017
London Olympia,UK

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NAfME Eastern
Division Conference
6-8 April, 2017
Atlantic City, New Jersey

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Historic Brass Society
Symposium (Anticipated)
13-16 July, 2017
New York City

Shared Enthusiasm

Here are some comments from others who also endorse the refreshing approach Brass for Beginners® offers in supporting the introduction of playing brass instruments and promoting the cross-curricula significance of brass music through the ages:

  • “Brass for Beginners authors have developed one of the most innovative programs to teaching beginning brass by employing a hands-on approach with the natural trumpet supplemented by a rich study of early brass history. Brass for Beginners adds a full intellectual and stimulating aspect to the study of instrumental music. This Historic Brass Society offers its enthusiastic support and endorsement of this program!”

    Jeffrey Nussbaum, President, Historical Brass Society

  • “I enthusiastically recommend this innovative and creative approach to beginning brass pedagogy, which encompasses aspects of ear training, music history and anthropology that are lacking in the more standard method materials. The foundation being laid by Brass for Beginners is a solid one upon which students can build throughout their scholastic careers and beyond.”

    Terry Everson, International Trumpet Soloist, Associate Professor of Trumpet, Boston University

  • “Brass for Beginners is the most innovative approach to teaching brass to have come along in many years. Starting on an instrument using the natural harmonics is the time-honored method of mastering brass tone production which makes for an easy transition to any of the modern brass instruments.”

    Dr. Scott Whitener, Emeritus Professor of Music Rutgers University, Author of A Complete Guide to Brass

  • “The European Music Archeology Project (EMAP) proudly offers its endorsement of the Brass for Beginners curriculum. BFB authors have done an incredible job of putting the painstaking research of scholars in various fields into a format that can engage young learners. This approach promises to inspire the next generation to appreciate our shared history through the study of ancient music and musical instruments. The fact that the curriculum is a general music curriculum that bridges this history with hands-on learning of brass technique makes it all the more compelling. We at EMAP are hopeful that children around the world will have the opportunity to benefit from this fantastic learning experience.”

    Dr. Raquel Jimenez, Assistant lecturer at the University of Valladolid, Spain and EMAP Head Researcher

  • “Brass for Beginners is a highly effective program that gets kids really excited about playing brass. My own son loved learning about instruments from different periods of history and from all around the world. This engaging and interdisciplinary approach not only prepares students very well for transitioning to modern brass instruments, it also gives them an expansive sense of music and all of its possibilities. No more fights over practicing! BFB makes kids love music.”

    Jessica Winegar, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University

  • “Having studied ancient brass instruments for all my professional life and developed a huge passion for their history, culture, their players and their makers, I realize how difficult it is to convey that enthusiasm and passion in a way which is easy for students/children to understand. The Brass for Beginners curriculum, with its unique multi-faceted approach to the topic brings the history of lip-blown instruments to life. It makes it accessible to teachers and students alike, with a hands-on approach which promises to enthuse and inspire, creating an enduring impression on the next generation.”

    Dr Peter Holmes, Trumpet Player, Engineer, Music Archaeologist

  • Quotes from attendees at past educational conventions:

    “Great idea!! What a great horn!!! Even I can play it!”
    “Nice history lesson and FUN!”
    “I love these trumpets! Definitely would use for the classroom!”
    “Great tool/option for a general music setting! Fun and Historic!”
    “These are great ear trainers”
    “Fun for all ages; What a blast!”
    “Love the concept, could really work wonders in a classroom”