Groovy Guide to Choosing a School Band Instrument

band instrument
Table of Contents

Learning to play music is incredibly beneficial for children’s cognitive development. Joining the school band can offer even more benefits, as it helps students develop social skills, learn teamwork, and have a blast.

Parents and children who are ready to go down this path might wonder where to start. Anyone new to the world of school band instruments may feel overwhelmed by everything involved, from selecting the violin over the flute to choosing whether buying versus renting instruments is the best option. 

This guide will help you choose best school band instrument for your child and includes tips to make that decision easier. 

Benefits of Learning How to Play an Instrument in the School Band

school band teamwork

There are numerous benefits to learning how to play an instrument in the school band, particularly for children’s brain development and memory functions. Parents whose children show an interest in music should encourage, nurture, and support them in their pursuit. A few of the many benefits include:

  • It Can Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
    More than 264 million people worldwide, including children, live with depression, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Learning to play an instrument can significantly reduce the risk of developing depression or anxiety disorders and give children who suffer from them a healthy and meaningful creative outlet. Learning an instrument requires complete concentration, which puts children in a state of mindfulness and helps them shift negative thoughts and feelings in a positive direction. This can alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety. 
  • Teaches Patience and Self-Discipline
    Patience and self-discipline are particularly difficult skills for children to develop. Playing an instrument requires complete focus and a great deal of practice, and the concept of putting time and effort into improving is a valuable life lesson for children. Learning these skills can also translate to better academic success.
  • Increases Mental Sharpness, Memory Function, and Clarity
    Learning an instrument exercises both the left and right sides of the brain – the left being more logical and the right being more creative-based. Using them together increases memory retention and recall, which is a skill that will benefit children for the rest of their lives. It also helps improve hand-eye coordination and sharpens decision-making and critical-thinking skills.
  • Helps Them Understand the Value of Teamwork
    Learning how to play an instrument as part of a school band improves children’s collaborative and social skills and teaches them the value of teamwork. Playing an instrument with the school band also increases children’s self-confidence and gives them a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie.

There’s one other benefit to mention: It’s fun to play in a school band. That fact, along with the ones above, should motivate any parent to at least consider getting their child’s musical journey started. Once you have decided whether your child is ready to learn an instrument, then comes the fun of picking which one. 

What to Know When Looking for a School Band Instrument

school band instruments

You’ve decided with your child on playing in the school band? Great! Now comes one of the most exciting parts, and one that’s great to do together: picking out which instrument to play. Here are a few things to keep in mind about that: 

1. Categories of Band Instruments to Choose From

There are a million different options to choose from when deciding on an instrument for your child to learn. Most school bands consist of three categories of musical instruments:

  • Brass
    Trumpets, trombones, tubas, and French horns
  • Woodwinds
    Clarinets, flutes, piccolos, oboes, and saxophones
  • Percussion
    Chimes, xylophones, cymbals, snare drums, and bass drums

Level of Difficulty Playing Brass Instruments

  1. Trumpet – The trumpet is a relatively easy instrument to learn for kids, as it requires efficient use of the lips and muscular control.
  2. French Horn – The French horn requires greater precision and physical control than other brass instruments, making it a more difficult instrument to learn for kids.
  3. Trombone – With its sliding action and need for proper positioning of the arms, trombones can be difficult to learn without help from an instructor.
  4. Tuba – The tuba is generally the most difficult brass instrument to learn due to its size and range of notes that require distinct fingering techniques.

Level of Difficulty Playing Woodwinds Instruments

  1. Clarinet – The clarinet is a great starter instrument for kids as it has a relatively easy-to-manage size and sound which can be mastered with a straightforward embouchure technique.
  2. Flute – The flute’s small size and light weight makes it an easy to learn instrument for kids, but the need for proper breath control makes it challenging at times.
  3. Piccolo – The piccolo requires precise fingering and skilled breathing techniques, making it more difficult than other woodwinds instruments to learn for young children.
  4. Oboe – With its complex fingering technique, the oboe takes dedication and perseverance to master, making it one of the most difficult woodwinds for kids to learn.
  5. Saxophone – With its combination of fingers and keys, the saxophone is moderately difficult to play, but once learned provides plenty of room for creative expression with its wide range of notes.

Level of Difficulty Playing Percussion Instruments

  1. Chimes – Chimes are the easiest percussion instrument to learn for kids, as they can be held in one hand and simply tapped with the other.
  2. Xylophone – With its larger size than chimes and need for precise technique, the xylophone provides a slightly more challenging learning experience for kids.
  3. Cymbals – The cymbals require skillful hand movements and control of sound intensity, making them more difficult than chimes and xylophones for small children to learn.
  4. Snare Drums – As size does not play a large factor in playing snare drums, they can still be a complicated instrument for kids to learn due to the need for technical proficiency and muscle memory.
  5. Bass Drums – The bass drum requires specific techniques such as accurate striking levels and proper position of the feet which make it one of the more difficult percussion instruments to learn for kids.

These are the types of instruments you will typically see in school bands. Talk with your son or daughter and decide which one they are drawn to, and if they want to take up a more common or more challenging instrument. It may also be beneficial to talk with the school band director to find out which instruments they recommend for beginners or what instruments the band needs. 

2. Speak With an Expert

Expert advice can be really helpful when purchasing an instrument. An experienced and knowledgeable music instructor will know the ins and outs of what to look for, where to go, and which is the best instrument for your child. 

3. Look for an Instrument That Is Playable, Durable, and Repairable

Your child’s instrument should be of good quality so it is easy to play and stays in tune. New musicians can also be tough on instruments, so find one that is built solidly and can be repaired by your local music store. A music store pro will be able to steer you in the right direction to meet these criteria. 

4. Decide on Buying vs. Renting Instruments

saxophone in music store

Buying vs. renting instruments is a big decision that requires some thought. It may be more beneficial to buy an instrument for a child who has a deep interest in a specific one, particularly if they’ve committed to joining the school band. Younger children, however, often have shorter attention spans, so it may be best to rent an instrument that you can easily swap out. 

5. Choose a Used or New Instrument

Purchasing a high-quality instrument to play is important. A used instrument might be tempting, but it’s buyer beware regarding its condition. Music retailers are a better bet because they have their instruments checked over by a repair expert. Many of these entry-level models can be purchased for a third or even half the cost of new school band instruments while still providing excellent value. 

There are many different factors to consider when it comes to looking for school band instruments for your child. Keep these tips in mind when you begin your search so your child has a top-quality, easy-to-use, and appropriate instrument to play in their school’s band. 

Our Musical Experts Can Help You Choose the Right Band Instrument

At Sloan School of Music, we not only help children learn how to play instruments of all types, but our professional, experienced staff can also recommend instruments for purchase or rent. Our music teachers and knowledgeable staff are ready to help your child along in their music journey. 

Call Sloan School of Music today if you are interested in lessons, accessories, or picking a school band instrument.