"The easiest instrument to learn is the one that you want to practice!!"
Paul Lorigan, Horner Jr High Music Director.
FIRST: Please wait to choose an instrument until the
first band class!
The instruments I teach in beginning band are flute, clarinet, trumpet, baritone horn, trombone and percussion. Click on the individual instruments in the sidebar on the left after you have reviewed this page. I tried to find YouTube videos of "The Carnival of Venice" for most of the instruments so that you could hear the same piece played on many instruments.
You will have an opportunity to see, hear, and hold all of the instruments at our first class.
Let's talk about "Band Balance". A balanced band has musicians on ALL instruments.
Band is the ultimate team sport. A good band will have members on ALL of the instruments. Think of a baseball team. What if EVERY player on the team was a pitcher? Would they ever win a game if all 9 people were huddled together on the pitcher’s mound… and all the bases, center field, out fields, and short stop were left uncovered?
Band is like that. Band works best when every part in the band is covered.
Below is theand Balance Pyramid". The larger, lower sounding instruments form the base of the pyramid. A band with many, many smaller instruments like flutes and clarinets and no larger, deeper instruments sounds "upside down" or "wrong".
Mrs. Whitney's "Ideal" Balanced Beginning Band
12 clarinets (with a couple switching to sax or bass clarinet in 5th or 6th grade)
12 trumpets (with a couple switching to horn)
Thinking ahead, (since 7th grade will be here before you know it!)
5 elementary schools feed into Horner Jr. High. You can see what happens when every beginning band teacher sends LOTS of flutes and clarinets, and saxophones and a few drummers; and virtually no low brass or trumpets. This will affect your band experience in the future... bands with this kind of instrumentation often get poorer marks at band festivals and competitions... even if they play perfectly.
|Ideal 7th grade Concert Band Instrumentation|
Horner Instrumentation (Fall 2008)
|Bass Clarinets 2||0|
|Alto Saxophone 2||8|
|Tenor Sax 1||1|
|Bari Sax 1||1|
|Trumpets 6 or 7||3|
|French Horns 4||0|
|Trombones 4 or 5||0|
|Baritones 2 or 3||1|
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Your instrument will be your voice in band and will "speak" for you.
Choose an instrument that speaks to you and for you.
Very often, a piece of music tells a story... and your instrument is an actor helping to narrate a musical play or story.
LISTEN to this beginning band piece (we have played this in beginning band!)
The composer, Sean O'Loughlin, wanted to tell a story about the ancient Native American hunters of the Dakotas. Was he successful at telling the story? Can you hear how the low pitched, and higher pitched and percussion all work together to create a complete story?
The piece starts out with clarinets playing the background and the lowest instruments have the melody. Percussion instruments add to the Native American mood of the piece. After the intro, the tempo speeds up and the flutes, clarinets, and trumpets take over the melody line. There is a percussion break in the middle then the flutes and clarinets play for a while. What part of the musical story appeals to you?
The movie "Star Wars" tells another story. This is the Harvey Green and Weibel 2008/2009 class playing the main theme from Star Wars. Can you hear how EVERY instrument is important? We need people on all instruments to tell a full story.
And playing Star Wars is FUN! A "band" with 10 flutes, 25 clarinets, and 3 saxophones... we will be playing some sad, boring music. I can't buy fun music for that group.
And music helps tell the story... even in a Lego Movie! What "voices" appeal to you?
Different instruments are going to appeal to different children. Studies show that children are happiest when they pick an instrument based MOSTLY on the SOUND.
If you play piano or keyboard... do you prefer the sound of the notes on the left hand side of the keyboard? or the middle? or the right hand side?
If you like high pitched instruments, you might like flute, clarinet, trumpet, bells
If you like middle pitched instruments, you might like French horn, saxophone, clarinet, trombone, baritone
If you like lower pitched instruments, you might like bass clarinet, trombone, baritone, or tuba.
Ideally, you will pick an instrument based on its tone and sound.
I've also had best friends choose the same instrument. This also works out well and I have had some awesome trumpet sections made up of 5 or 6 little girls. (There is no such thing as “girl instruments” and “boy instruments”. Some of my best trombone students have been girls. Some of my best flute students have been boys.)
Most importantly: When choosing an instrument… you need to follow your heart! If you REALLY want to play flute. Play flute. The world does need SOME flute players! And clarinets, and people on sax and percussion... Pick the instrument you like the SOUND of! Listen to recordings of different instruments. Don't go by shiny or lots of buttons. And keep an open mind. If you like trombone. Play trombone
I hope that you have found this helpful. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Denise Whitney - AfterSchoolBand@gmail.com