Instrument Selection Guide
The Flute is the highest pitched instrument in the beginning band. The flute is made of silver or a silver-plated brass alloy and is played by blowing across an opening in one end while the fingers press keys to change notes. With it’s clear, penetrating sound, the flute often plays the melody in the band. Some advanced flute players may have the opportunity to occasionally the piccolo in later years.
The Oboe is similar in appearance to a clarinet, but it is played using a double reed instead of a single reed to produce its brilliant and distinct sound. The oboe is a special instrument, and only a select few students will be chosen to play it. Good oboe players are usually hard working and fairly independent with high grades. Good oboists are highly sought by universities and colleges, often receiving substantial scholarships.
The Bassoon is also a double reed instrument. It is the lowest member of the woodwind family and has a very dignified and majestic sound.The bassoon is one of the most specialized instruments in the band, and like the oboe, only a few select students will be chosen to play it.Good bassoon players are usually intelligent and often enjoy puzzles. Like the oboe, good bassoonists are highly sought by universities and colleges, often receiving substantial scholarships.
The Clarinet is another popular choice in the woodwind family. The clarinet produces a large, beautiful sound that ranges from very high to very low in pitch. Most quality clarinets are made of a special wood, called grenadilla, that only grows in the savanna of Africa. Some advanced clarinet players will have the opportunity to play other types of clarinets, including the alto, bass, and contra-alto clarinets. This a very versatile instrument suited for a variety of people.
The Saxophone is a woodwind instrument even thought it is made of brass. Most people know the saxophone as they have heard it in jazz or rock music. The saxophone is a very versatile instrument and is also used in the concert band. Some saxophone players will also have the opportunity to play tenor or baritone saxophones after the beginning year.
The Trumpet is the highest instrument of the brass family. It is recognized by its bright and clear sound. The trumpet is frequently used to play the melody. Like some of the other instruments in the band, the trumpet is also used in jazz and pop music. Similar to most brass instruments, the trumpet has only three valves. Good trumpet players usually have thin and even lips.
The French Horn is one of the most majestic and versatile instruments in the band. Recognized by its distinct coil shape, the french horn is one of the most commonly heard instruments in movie soundtracks, as it has the widest range of any brass instrument. Horn players must have a good ear for pitch. Good horn players are often sought by universities and colleges, often receiving substantial scholarships.
The Trombone, easily recognized by its long slide, is one of the most powerful instruments in the band. Playing primarily in the lower range of the band, the trombone is used both as a melodic and a supporting instrument. Trombones are used in virtually every type of music, including jazz, rock, and symphony orchestra. Good trombone players have an ear for pitch and arms that are long enough to reach the lower slide positions.
The Euphonium, often referred to as the baritone, the euphonium is one of the richest sounds in the band. The euphonium plays in the same range as the trombone, but its winding cone-shaped tube gives it a much darker tone. Though originally designed as a harmony instrument, the euphonium has grown to become one of the most popular band instruments for solo playing in the most recent years.
The Tuba is the most important instrument in the band. It is the largest and lowest of the wind instruments, and it produces the fundamental sound upon which all others are built. Despite its relatively large size, even the smallest students can easily handle the tuba with proper instruction. Good tuba players are generally intelligent and assertive, with a passion for their instrument. Tuba players do not have to carry their instruments home every night. Instead, they will be an issued an instrument to take home and leave home for practice and they will play on another tuba at school that remains on campus.
Percussion is one of the most misunderstood sections of the band. Often referred to as the “drums”, this name is actually a very incomplete description of what is involved in playing percussion. Percussionists learn to play a number of instruments, including mallet instruments like bells and xylophone, battery percussion like the snare and bass drums, and accessory percussion instruments like the tambourine and triangle. Enrollment for this course is limited, and students wishing to play percussion will need to attend an additional evaluation before students will be selected for this instrument.