How did you get on with our body parts quiz?
Here’s are our answers:
A) Hands – you need hands to hold the instrument and press the valves or move the slide. You also need a hand to stick up in the air to ask your teacher a question. You need hands to clap out rhythms so it’s easier to play them on your instrument! You need hands to turn your music over; to get your instrument out of the case or bag, and put it away again. We could go on!
B) Eyes – you use your eyes to see what your teacher is doing so you can copy it. You need eyes to read the music; to see where your instrument is after you’ve put it down; and to find your way to the rehearsal room! But blind people can learn to play a brass instrument, so it is possible to do all these things without eyes, but in different ways!
C) Heart – you need your heart to pump blood round your body and to stay alive! You cannot play your instrument if you’re not alive! But you also need a heart to love what you do, to love the music and feel the emotion of it, whether that’s joy or sadness, excitement or relaxation!
D) Hair – we can’t think of any reason why you need hair to play a brass instrument, except maybe to keep your head warm or to avoid getting sunburn when you’re playing outside? Of course, nice hair can improve your appearance when you are taking part in a performance, but bald people look great too, and you can always wear a hat to keep your head warm! In fact hair can get in the way if it blows across your face and stops you seeing your music, so think about tying it back!
E) Lungs – oh yes, you definitely need lungs! Brass instruments need lots of air, and the only way to get air is to use your lungs. Unless you’re a fish with gills and even then, it’s not easy to play a brass instrument under water… so learn to fill up those lungs before you start to play!
F) Ears – do we need ears? Maybe to rest our spectacles on if we wear them? And hold our face mask in place? And sometimes to listen to the teacher? Well yes, but surely we need ears to HEAR music? Yes, of course we need ears! Music is all about sounds, nice sounds, organised sounds with melody, rhythm, harmony, and we need ears to hear it! We should be using our ears to listen to ourselves playing and trying to sound great. We listen to the other players around us, so we can stay in time, play in tune and make wonderful music together!
G) Arms (not including the hands) – we use our arms to keep our hands attached to our body and put them in the right place to hold our instrument. We use the strength in them to lift and hold our instrument, and to raise our hand when we need a drink of water, and after we’ve drunk the water, to raise our hand again to go to the toilet.
H) Lips – what do we use lips for apart from kissing? The answer, as every brass player knows, is BUZZING! Buzzing your lips into the mouthpiece makes the air vibrate inside the instrument, which creates a sound wave that resonates out of the bell across the room to reach people’s ears (see F).
I) Bottom – perhaps the most important part of the body for any brass player? Because when you are tired after all that playing, dancing, marching and standing, you will want to sit down, and to sit down you will need a bottom!
J) Brain – without a brain we couldn’t learn to do anything! Without a brain we wouldn’t hear music. We couldn’t even imagine being able to play it. We couldn’t do any of the other things that go towards being an ace brass player! Yes, brains are definitely needed here! Don’t leave yours at home! We can lend you an instrument if you forget it, but not a brain. Sorry, bring your own.
K) Legs – well, legs come in handy (shouldn’t that be “come in footy”?) if we want to dance or march, or tap out the rhythm, or get from the classroom to the music room. But you don’t need legs to play a brass instrument, and there are some great brass players who don’t have them!
L) Nose – hmmm, you need a nose to….er…hang on, let me think…ermmm…breathe? No, because we need LOTS of air and it’s much quicker to breathe it in through the mouth with an open throat. Oh, ok, well, how about smelling? Smelling what? Well…smelling when … er … when there’s a rotten fish stuck in your instrument? You couldn’t play if that happened could you? No, I suppose not.
M) Belly – no one wants to play their instrument on an empty stomach! You can’t get very far in life without eating and drinking, and having a belly comes in very useful for that! You might also hear your brass teacher saying “Breathe right down into your tummy”, which is a very silly thing to say because we all know that you use your lungs to breathe (see E) not your tummy! Silly teacher! But then again, they may have a point because there’s a very important muscle in your tummy called the “diaphragm” which we pull downwards when we breathe in to expand the lungs and push other organs out of the way to make room for all that air! So even though the air doesn’t go into the belly, it FEELS like it does!
N) Teeth – useful for eating (see M). Maybe used for biting? No, sorry, we don’t bite anything in brass group, not even our nails, but you might be surprised to learn that it is quite tricky to play a brass instrument without teeth! Our teeth help shape the mouth, hold the lips in the right place, and give the tongue a place to push against when starting the note with a “te” or “de” sound! Amazing, eh?
Q2 Put them in order of importance for playing a brass instrument – here’s our list, but there is no right or wrong answer here:
Most important to least important:
1) Heart (C) – no heart, no life, so we think this has to be number 1!
2) Brain (J) – without a brain we couldn’t do anything!
3) Ears (F) – anyone can buzz into a brass instrument with a bit of practice, but we’re not here to just make a lot of noise! We can’t make music if we don’t hear what it sounds like, and we need ears for that!
4) Lungs (E) – as mentioned, you need air to play a brass instrument, and that requires lungs with lots of air in
5) Lips (H) – blowing air into a mouthpiece will produce nothing but the sound of air being blown down a tube – without lips, there’s no buzz and no musical note!
6) Teeth (N)– surprisingly, teeth are essential for playing a brass instrument!
7) Hands (A) – handy for holding your instrument and pressing the valves or moving the slide.
8) Arms (G) – it’s hard to separate your hands and arms, even though we did it for this quiz!
9) Belly (M) – very useful to have, and the diaphragm is very important
10) Eyes (B) – you can play a brass instrument if you’re blind. In fact, many blind people learn to use their other senses better, including their ears, which are much more important for a musician.
11) Bottom (I) – very useful to have, but not used when playing a brass instrument!
12) Legs – useful for lots of things, but not having them is no barrier to playing a brass instrument.
13) Nose (L) – we’ve decided you don’t need a nose to play a brass instrument, even though you’d look a bit weird without one!
14) Hair (D) – has to be last on our list, because we think bald people make great brass players! In fact bald people are just great, full stop!