Musical Instruments


The Brass Family

Conn Cornet (UMI) Cornets are usually made of brass or other metal, and usually silver-plated or lacquered. Today, cornets are played in concert, military and marching bands. The cornet often plays the same music as the trumpet, although there is sometimes a separate cornet part.

On a cornet, the sound is made by the buzzing the player's lips. The mouthpiece helps the sound become clearer. The rest of the cornet makes the sound louder. Any fingering on the cornet can make five or more different notes so you need to have a good ear for music to know if you are playing the right note. The sound of the cornet is more mellow than the sound of the trumpet.


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The cornet's history begins with the post horn of the late 1500's. The post horn was a short instrument used to signal the approach of the mail wagon. OVer time, the instrument was lengthened and it was used to play fanfare like calls.

The addition of valves to the post horn in 1828 formed the modern valve cornet. The mellow sound of the cornet was instantly popular and many brilliant cornet solos were written from 1850 to 1900. The cornet was popular in jazz bands unti 1920, when it was replaced by the trumpet.


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Before you play

: There is very little to assemble on a cornet. All you have to do is place the mouthpiece into the lead pipe. Do this with a gently twisting motion. Do not hit or pop the mouthpiece into place. Oil the valves every day you play your cornet. Remove the valves one at a time and apply three or four drops of oil. Replace the valve, slotting it into place or turning it until it clicks. If the valve is not in the proper position, you can blow hard, but no air will go through. If this happens, check the position of each of the valves to correct the problem.

Tuning & Playing

: To lower the pitch of the cornet, lengthen the instrument by pulling the main tuning slide out. To raise the pitch, push the main tuning slide in. Cornets usually have an adjustable third valve slide to adjust the pitch of the notes that are usually sharp. For example, when playing low C# with fingers 1-2-3, use the fourth or fifth finger to push out the third valve slide. This will flatten the pitch of the C# and bring it into tune.


: Once a week clean the mouthpiece with warm water and a mouthpiece brush. Once a month, give your cornet a bath. Remove all the valves and slides and run snake brushes and valve brushes through the instrument with warm soapy water (hot water may damage the finish). Put the cornet back together. Oil the valves and grease the slides.

Note: This information is meant as a guide and provides only a short summary of the steps required to keep your instrument in good shape. Please ask your teacher for more information.

Related Links:

Cornet sites at Looksmart

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