As a parent of three kids who have all joined the beginner band in 6th grade, choosing the best beginner band instrument can be both exciting and terrifying. The instrument your child picks at the beginning will have a huge impact on whether or not they are successful.
To help you in your selection process, here are a few key points to keep in mind.
Most beginner bands offer a variety of instruments. Brass instruments include trumpet, trombone, french horn, and tuba or euphonium. Woodwind instruments include clarinet, flute, bassoon, oboe, and saxophone. Violin, viola and cello are the string instruments. And, percussion instruments include the snare drum and xylophone.
You can listen to sound clips of each instrument to get a better understanding of the differences between brass, woodwind, string and percussion.
Talent and Ability
What instrument is your child interested in playing? How do you know if that instrument is best? When it was time to pick the beginner band instrument for my oldest son, he really wanted to follow in his uncle’s steps and play percussion. He thought drums were the coolest instrument and the only instrument in which he showed an interest. When he met with the band director, he expressed his desire to be a percussionist. The band director stepped him through a number of rhythm sequences that required each hand to work independently. It became immediately apparent that both hands were in sync and could only do one rhythm at a time.
Noticing my son’s disappointment, the band director suggested a few brass instruments. When my son placed the trumpet mouthpiece to his lips and effortlessly made a sound, you could tell he was excited. That was the beginning of my son’s trumpet career.
Making sure that you child has the ability to successfully play an instrument is the first step.
Motivation is often inspired by the passion to learn. If your child isn’t excited about learning the new instrument, chances are he/she will not practice be successful. Many students pick an instrument that is suggested by parents or band directors, but not one in which they are passionate. My daughter was convinced that bassoon was the perfect instrument for her. She really didn’t have an instrument in mind, though all her friends were playing either flute or clarinet. She became the only bassoon player, and really did not like the attention. She reluctantly continued band in 7th grade, but getting her to practice was painful. She also was in choir and loved singing. Although she did not continue in band, she had a blast in choir and really blossomed in high school.
The size of the instrument may seem unimportant until you consider that your child has to get to and from school everyday. Carrying a flute case is much different than a tuba case, and the latter can be quite a chore getting on a bus or walking home. This may also affect your child’s motivation for practicing. You don’t want him/her to look at the instrument as the enemy or something to be teased about. Elementary and junior high is tough enough without adding to the challenges.
Many schools have instruments available to rent during the school year. They also have arrangements with music retailers where you can rent or purchase starter instruments. Some instruments are more expensive, such as the saxophone, cello and french horn. The more affordable beginner instruments include the clarinet, snare drum, flute, and trumpet. Although you do not want to steer your child away from the instrument they desire, practical financial considerations are expected. If you need financial assistance, you may want to check with your band director to see if they have scholarships or nonprofit groups that can help.
Encouraging your child to be part of a music program will benefit your child in so many ways. Whether your child joins the school band, orchestra or choir, your child will greatly benefit from music education.