Music Study – The Cornet

At the age of twelve, one can put the CORNET PISTONS in the hands of a child, if, however, he has not a weak constitution ; in the contrary case it would be better to wait, for up to the age of twenty at least, it will be quite time enough.

As we have already seen with regard to the trumpet, and generally speaking with all the brass instruments, the fear of fatigue should be the only guide for determining the amount of daily study.

The embouchure of the cornet is infinitely easier to acquire than that of the horn or the trumpet, and it is in a great measure to its facility of emission of tone that it owes its popularity.

Its timbre, which arises from its construction, is lacking in distinction. To the same degree that ‘the trumpet is clear and elegant in its brilliancy and its limpid clarity, and the horn is poetical and sentimental, so the cornet is essentially trivial and muddy. It is then to lessen its defects that the virtuoso-cornettist must always strive, and here, by a unique exception, it is permissible for him to endeavour to imitate neighbouring instruments and those of the same family that are endowed with a nobler timbre: thus, to have the tone of a horn, or the tone of a trumpet would not be a defect in a cornettist, but rather a valuable quality under many circumstances. It atones for its fault of vulgarity, first by being very easy to study, and then by a certain volubility, that is peculiar to it, a suppleness that can do everything,–trills, repeated notes, and runs of pretty nearly every kind, as well as an aptitude for singing well or imitating a song, of which it must avail itself.

The study of the cornet à pistons produces certain qualities for the practice of the trumpet ; but the simultaneous study of the two is useless when working seriously at the trumpet, it may even be harmful to the cornet. When once the period of study is passed, a trumpet-player can play the two instruments alternately, provided he makes only a moderate use of the cornet ; an abuse of the latter would expose him to the loss of a part of his most precious qualities, particularly firmness in the attack of his tone.