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School Band Instruments Names: How To Choose!

Updated on April 23, 2020
Reginald Thomas profile image

This author has been an educator, conductor, and trombonist for the past 40 years. His experience qualifies him as an expert in this field.

School Band Instruments Names: How To Choose

Students in public schools have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Beginning in grade six (in most school systems) students can choose from a select list of instruments. This article explores the School Band Instruments Names and How to Choose the proper one for your child. Read on and learn more about this fantastic opportunity in the arts.

Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument

Scientific studies tell us that learning a musical instrument has many benefits. The list below lists several reasons why students benefit from studying instrumental music.

  • Increases memory capabilities
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves analytic skills
  • Participation in a physical activity
  • Improves reading mastery through understanding
  • Creates responsibility
  • Explores culture and history
  • Fosters self-expression
  • Improves listening skills
  • Recreational fun
  • Belonging to a performance group with others

The Elementary School Band Instruments Names

It all starts in the elementary school instrumental music program. Each fall, the sixth-grade students are allowed to sign up to study a musical instrument with the music teacher.

The students go through a demonstration session where professional musicians demonstrate each instrument to the students, From there the students and parents choose which instrument they might want to study. This is usually done through a local music store where parents can either rent or purchase.

The choices of instruments in the elementary level are as follows:

  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Alto Saxophone
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Trombone
  • Horn
  • Snare Drum

This shortlist of eight instruments are suitable for young students to handle. Whereas, larger instruments ( bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, tuba, etc...) will be available as they get a bit older.

Middle School Band Instruments Names

When a student arrives at the middle school level he or she has one or two years of training on a particular instrument. Most middle schools are equipped with a number of school-owned instruments. These serve to expand the instrumentation of the middle school concert band.

Skilled music teachers can introduce selected students to transition into one of these larger instruments. The list below outlines the expanded instrumentation of the middle school band.

Pictures of these instruments are displayed throughout the article.

Highlighted names are typically school owned.

  • Piccolo
  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Bass Clarinet
  • Alto Saxophone
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Bassoon
  • Trumpet
  • Horn
  • Trombone
  • Baritone Horn/Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Drums
  • Xylophone/Bells
  • Timpani

What is the best instrument to learn for you?

Type of Instrument
Physical Requirements
How Popular
Double reed instrument, difficult.
Not very popular
Long fingers, dexterity, air supply
Very popular for girls
Finger dexterity, air supply
Very popular, boys or girls
Finger dexterity, air supply
Boys like this, jazz band later
Double reed, 6ft long, difficult
Not very popular
Very popular if it is a big program
Large instrument, not too popular
Not very popular
Finger dexterity, must have good air supply, embochure needs to be developed
Very popular with boys, not so much with the girls
Smaller mouthpiece, embochure needs to be developed, must have good air supply. Difficult
Less popular
Larger mouthpiece, must have good air supply, embouchure needs to be developed
Very popular
Euphonium/Baritone Horn
Larger mouthpiece, must have good air supply, embochure needs to be developed
Less popular
Largest of all brass, needs good air supply, embochure needs to be developed.
Less popular
Snare Drum
Quick reflexes, good in math, good ear
All the boys want to be drummers, very popular
Drum Set
Long fingers, big hands, finger dexterity
Very popular
Good finger dexterity

Don’t force a child to play an instrument you want them to play!

High School Band Instruments Names

If the student in the middle school program has met with success, the next level is High School Band. This is where all the great fun happens! High School band has a multitude of opportunities through various activities. This happens inside and outside the walls of the building.

Depending on the size of the high school in most cases will determine the size of the band itself. Again, the skilled teacher will be a big part of how big the group will grow.

School owned instruments are a big part of the program at this level. From the marching band, concert bands, jazz ensemble, the instrumentation names are below. Highlighted names are typically school owned.

  • Piccolo
  • Oboe
  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Bass Clarinet
  • Bassoon
  • Alto Saxophone
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Horn
  • Trombone
  • Baritone/Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Mallet Percussion
  • Timpani
  • Aux. Percussion

Practice Routine

For a child to see success with a brand new instrument it is important for the parents to have patience, discipline, and motivation. Instill in your child the importance of practicing and developing a good practice routine. Practicing an instrument should not seem like a chore for the young musician. Below are some tips on this subject.

  • Designate a private area that you can practice in.
  • Practice at the same time every day
  • Set up an alarm clock for your practice session and don’t start practicing until the alarm goes off. Your practice time should start off being 1/2 hour and gradually increase to one full hour per day.
  • Keep a log of your practice session and what you got accomplished
  • As you get well-established with your practice routine, you need to include a warmup period. This needs to be between five and ten minutes in order to get your embouchure warmed up or flexibility in your fingers etc.
  • Avoid interruptions

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice!

Concert Grand Piano


Private Lessons

Private lessons represent an important part of learning to play a musical instrument. Without them, failure is imminent. As mentioned earlier, most public schools offer instrumental music lessons as part of the elementary school curriculum starting as early as grade 6.

These are in fact group lessons of four or more students once a week. A student that is faster than the other students in this small group setting may get frustrated and lose interest unless they have the opportunity to study with a specialist in a private lesson so that this youngster can excel at his or her pace.

I do remember that when I was a youngster starting the trombone that I had several private teachers from grade 5 through high school. My private teachers helped motivate me to practice more at home which allowed more opportunities to perform in advanced orchestras and bands throughout high school.

I have provided a few videos for your entertainment and more importantly to illustrate the success of young people taking private lessons as part of their learning process on the instrument and how they can excel at an early age.

So, What is the Best Instrument to Learn?

Taking in all the considerations of restrictions, applications, physical requirements, expenses, popularity, and difficulty, my recommendation is that the piano would seem to be the best instrument to learn. The short list below will outline why this would be a good choice:

  1. The piano is easier for young person to learn beginning as early as age four.
  2. One can play the piano in any style.
  3. The piano provides a solid base for music fundamentals.
  4. The piano provides instant gratification while learning.
  5. The piano needs no embouchure to develop.
  6. No size problems of the bigger instruments to overcome.
  7. Many students of the piano find it very easy to pick up a second instrument after a few years of fundamentals on the piano.
  8. With today’s technology, a grand piano or expensive upright is not necessary as there would be many models of electronic keyboards available for home use.

In Closing,

If I had it all over to do again, I would be learning the piano.This instrument provides all the necessary skills in music to use later for learning a second or even a third instrument later in life. If your child is that enthusiastic about music he or she may want to learn how to write music. The piano is a great instrument to use for this exploration.

All of the instruments that we talked about in this article are good and as you can see have degrees of popularity and difficulty. I hope this information helps and good luck with your music. If you find this article useful, drop a comment below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Reginald Thomas


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