6 Jazz Instruments For Beginners

jazz instrumentsDo you finally have the time to learn how to play an instrument? Are you having trouble picking out a jazz instrument to play? Many people have to pick instruments to learn when they are in grade school. For various reasons a lot of people end up not having the time to practice anymore and stop playing. Sometimes kids pick an instrument that they don’t enjoy so they don’t keep up with practicing. If you have decided to pick up playing an instrument now, you have many choices to pick from. Sometimes being able to grow up, and learn more about yourself, and what types of music you like, helps you figure out what instrument you want to play. Jazz instruments are perfect for any music lover to learn how to play. It’s a good idea to pick an instrument that fits the style of music you like and your personality. That way it will be more enjoyable for you, and you won’t feel like you have to practice, you will want to practice!

To decide what jazz instrument is the best fit for you, it’s a good idea to have some more information about each one. You should also consider learning about music theory, in order to become a better jazz musician. With enough practice you will even be able to form your own jazz band. It’s a great way to make new friends and gain some extra tips on playing jazz instruments, especially if someone has been playing since they were a kid. They may even be able to help teach you another instrument if they play something different.

Brief Jazz History

The early twentieth century saw the birth of jazz music in the southern United States. It is a combination of African music mixed with European styles. As jazz spread throughout the world it evolved and changed. New Orleans Jazz, or Dixieland Music, is one of the earliest styles of jazz music. It mixed brass band marches, blues, and ragtime with improvisation. Other styles of jazz include big band swing, Kansas City jazz, and bebop.

Famous jazz musicians like Lois Armstrong inspired a whole new generation to learn more about music. He also provided aspiring musicians with a very high bar to try and attain. He was very good at improvisation and helped usher in a new style of music. He was the inspiration for many jazz artists to follow.

Rhythm Section

A standard rhythm section usually has at least one instrument that is able to play cords. The standard grouping of jazz instruments in this section includes piano, bass, and percussion. From this arrangement other jazz instruments, like the trombone, may have been included. Here is a little more info about this section to help you get more familiar with each individual instrument.

jazzinstrumentsUpright Bass

The upright bass is a four stringed, wooden instrument, which is used to set the foundation for the harmony in jazz music. It was originally played classically with a bow of horsehair that was used to push across the strings to create long low notes. In jazz music however, the strings were plucked, instead of using the bow. This technique is called pizzicato.

In order to play this instrument, the musician must stand or sit on a stool behind the bass, and reach around to pluck the strings. The body of the bass should be turned slightly in towards you in order to make playing easier.

Percussion

jazzinstrumentsThe drums are a main driving force in keeping the music moving and accentuating movement. In jazz music there are a few percussion instruments that are use the most in the drum set. The first is the bass drum, played with a foot pedal. Another foot pedal is used to play the hi-hat, which is a couple of thin cymbals that crash together. Next is the snare drum, played with sticks, which is placed directly in front of the musician. Along the sides are usually crash cymbals that are used at strong points of the song to accentuate the moment.

Piano

jazzinstrumentsAs far as jazz instruments go, the piano is one of the most versatile. It has 88 key, allowing you to play high or low notes. You can also press on the keys quickly to create a percussion effect or soft and slow. The actual name, pianoforte, means “soft” and “strong” in Italian.

Because of its larger size it is not an instrument that is easy to transport. If you decide to learn to play piano, you can always use a keyboard at home to practice. You can find out if any of your friends own a piano, and if they would allow you to practice there. If you end up forming your own jazz band you will need to scout out any locations you want to play at, and make sure there have a piano there.

Horn Section

The melody is played by wind and brass instruments that make up the horn section. In a smaller jazz band there is usually one saxophone and one trumpet. Occasionally a trombone will be added to this grouping depending on the band’s needs. In a larger band you could have up to five woodwind instruments, four trumpets, and 3 trombones.

Trumpet

jazzinstrumentsThe trumpet is a very prominent and well known instrument in jazz. This is due to the fact it was played by Louis Armstrong. The trumpet is part of the brass instruments, and the sound is produced by the musician pushing air into the mouthpiece, and vibrating their lips. You can change the sound by changing the shape of your lips and pressing one of the three valves at the top. The trumpet and piano are very popular choices of jazz instruments to learn, making it much easier to find a trumpet player if you decide to form a jazz band.

Trombone

jazz instrumentsThe trombone produces its sound just like the trumpet, by pushing air into the mouthpiece and vibrating your lips. It then uses a slide to change the pitch of the music. It is another brass instrument often seen in jazz bands. It became especially popular during the big band era, when swing dancing was popular. It is a powerful instrument with a unique tone that hasn’t always been a prominent icon in jazz music.

Woodwind Instruments

Even though the saxophone may seem like it belongs in the horn section, it is actually a woodwind instrument. Some other instruments in the woodwind category are the flute, and the clarinet. Many times a saxophone player will double up and also play an instrument, like the clarinet, if needed in a jazz band. While the flute can also be included in jazz, it is less common to see it in an ensemble. It usually isn’t one of the instruments that come to mind, when thinking about jazz instruments.

Saxophone

jazz instrumentsOne of the most popular jazz instruments is the saxophone because of the unique sound it produces. This instrument is actually a woodwind instrument that is made out of brass. The sound is created by blowing into the mouthpiece, vibrating the reed. Unlike the rhythm section, the saxophone can only play one note at a time.

The Baritone sax will occasionally play along with the bass instead of the melody. There are a few different types of saxophones you can choose from, with the most common being the baritone sax. The largest is called the bass sax and was one of the first types of saxophones used in jazz. You can stick with the melody while you learn to play the saxophone. You can always get a different type of instrument once you have the basics down.

Conclusion

Now that you have a better understanding of jazz instruments, you will be able to pick one that fits your personality. Remember playing should be fun, so pick an instrument you are really interested in. You could also look at renting or buying used instrument to see if you like it. Or ask a music friend of yours if you could try theirs. Once you have found your favorite jazz instrument you can begin practicing and learning how to read music.

Once you have developed your skills on one of the jazz instruments above you could start to play with friends. If you have enough friends that play you could even form your own jazz band. The next step in your music adventure would be to try learning how to compose your own music. Jazz music is well known for its improvisational solos, and having such a large music background will make you a stronger musician. Learning how to record yourself at home will give you the opportunity to share your new skills with family and friends online. You can also branch out of jazz and experiment with other types of music once you have learned to play one of these jazz instruments.