I had a hard time thinking of a title for this thread, but here's my situation:
- I want to buy a gift for a younger cousin, who currently fairly seriously plays French horn for high school
- I want to get her something that's easier to carry around than a French horn, more durable and with less fragile keywork and such bits. Kind of like what the xaphoon/bamboo sax is to saxophone players, or the chalmeau to clarinet (especially since cast-plastic chalumeau are out for €35 now)
- I'd like it to be some instrument that's conducive to informal playing; I've had other relatives who were into playing music in formal settings, but had no ability to jam, improvise, etc. I'd love to get her something she could haul around casually, and use to jam with friends who play guitar and the like. As a parallel, her sister plays classical silver flute, so I got her a small plastic Irish "band flute"/fife so it could be chucked in a backpack without the worries of keywork, and conducive to just sitting in the park and playing around solo or with friends. I just want to encourage her to not get stuck in a "music is the thing you do sitting in a chair staring at sheet music at clearly scheduled times", move her to more organically moving music into her life.
- I'd like to keep the gift under $300 in value
For a bit I was pondering some kind of primitive brass-embouchured instrument with fingerholes rather than keywork, simple solid body. But about all I could find that's anything like that is the Renaissance zink/cornetto (not cornet), and the Scandinavian vallhorn (which is cool but I think too primitive). Cornetto seems pretty approachable, and there is a UK shop making them in cast-resin very affordably, but at £190 (US$300) they're right at the top of my price range. Here's a good clip of one solo: What is a cornett and how does it sound - YouTube
Vallhorn are cheaper at $170 for wooden copies, but seems more primitive in the embouchure, probably too niche an option. Though this guy makes it sound pretty cool: Vallåt - YouTube
A few other ideas I've had:
- I could get her one of those plastic trumpets that several companies have made, which would be easy to carry around, but not hugely compact (compared to say an Irish tinwhistle), and I imagine a little louder than one wants for jamming with a guitar-playing friend in a living-room.
- I could get her a used cornet off eBay; at least relatively more compact than a French horn, maybe a little more durable. They're softer than trumpet, yes? Maybe with a mute would it be appropriate for casual play and jamming?
- I thought briefly of things like didgeridoo, Hawaiian bamboo trumpet, etc. but they aren't really melodic instruments
- The easiest/cheapest/smallest option would be to just give up on embouchure issues and get a fipple-flute instrument (since those have an extremely easy embouchure). So I could just get her a decent Irish tinwhistle, or a good ocarina. Both instruments that are easier to play just hanging around the house, play along with a friend, etc.
Any options I'm overlooking? Any input as to what would make a good gift for a teenage brass player to encourage her towards more casual and intuitive music?
Whatever idea seems good, I'll certainly run it by her first to see if she thinks it's something she would use, but I thought best to survey some serious brass players for ideas.