Which instruments are allowed in band?

Band instruments typically include: Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet or Cornet, French Horn, Trombone, Baritone, Tuba and Percussion.

Is it possible to play the guitar or piano in band or orchestra class?

Generally, the answer is no. These instruments are not typical band or orchestra instruments. There isn’t anything wrong with choosing to play a guitar or piano. They can be extremely rewarding. They just don’t fit into band and orchestras.

What process will the students go through to prepare them for choosing an instrument?

1) Students will attend the 5th grade band concert – where the 5th graders will play full band tunes as well as some small ensembles which will help demonstrate the instruments.

2) Mr. Krueger will do a couple of instrument demonstrations with the 4th graders which will help show how to make a sound on each instrument, and how the instruments sound in different contexts.

3) All 4th graders will take the Selmer Music Guidance Survey, which helps Mr. Krueger know how well the student hears pitch, hamony, melody, and rhythm.

4) Each student will have an interview with Mr. Krueger.  At this time, the students will tell Mr. Krueger their top two choices for an instrument, and will have an opportunity to try different instruments to see which ones work best for them.

What should I consider when choosing an instrument?

First, it should be an instrument that makes a sound the student likes and seems to the student like it would be fun to play.  There will be several demonstrations of the various band instruments in class to help make this decision, and there are recordings on this web site as well.  Second, it is important that the physical characteristics of the student are compatible with playing that instrument.  Third, some thought must be given to overall balance of instruments within the band.  Too many students on one or two instruments can cause problems with too much competition and a lack of balance in the secondary ensembles.

Should we buy a new or used instrument or should we rent?

Renting is a way to have a new or newer instrument without making the financial commitment to purchase.  Several music stores in town have rental programs.  Although purchasing an instrument can be an option, for many families it is better to rent for a while to make sure that this is an activity to which the students will stay committed before making a purchase.

If the decision is made to purchase an instrument, it is important to get a good instrument in good condition.  Many used instruments can be extremely reliable and usable for musicians of any level. Generally, brass, and percussion instruments are more durable than woodwinds. Woodwind instruments use fragile pads to cover holes on the instrument. These pads can rip, mildew, swell or deteriorate due to age. If you know a musician who can check out a used instrument for you, it can be an excellent way to go.

For students on free or reduced lunch, LPS has a fee waiver program for band instruments.  Click HERE for more information on the fee waiver program.

The saxophone is too big or too expensive. Is there an alternative to a saxophone for beginners?

Yes. The clarinet is very similar to a saxophone. Both use a single reed and the fingerings are very similar. Since many students simply do not have large enough hands to play the saxophone, the clarinet is a good choice for beginners. It’s not difficult to switch to the saxophone later.

Should we start with the Alto or Tenor Saxophone?

Alto. The tenor saxophone is quite large and difficult to handle for elementary age students. Even the alto saxophone is too large for many students.

What’s the difference between a trumpet and a cornet?

For the beginner, there isn’t a noticeable difference. The trumpet is a bit longer and slightly brighter sounding than a cornet. Either instrument is suitable for beginners.

Which percussion instrument should we start with?

A percussion player will eventually play everything in the percussion section. This includes the snare drum, bass drum, bells, triangles, cymbals and many others. Students tend to have more success if they start on the bells and later move to the non-pitched instruments like the snare and bass drum. The drum set is rarely used in school bands.  Because the bells are arranged in the same way as a piano keyboard, it is desirable for students to have some piano background before beginning on percussion.

Which instrument is the easiest to learn?

This depends on the student. Each instrument has unique difficulties. Percussion requires a good feel for rhythm and coordination, brass instruments require the ability to hear pitch well and to make a buzzing sound on the mouthpiece, woodwinds require the coordination of all of the fingers for playing the different pitches.  Usually an instrument that fits the student well, and that they can get a good sound on, is the easiest instrument for that student.

Do girls or boys do better on certain instruments?

No. Thousands of musicians have proven boys or girls can succeed on any instrument.

How often should a beginner practice?

Generally, the more a student practices, the better they will sound on their instrument. This is especially true if they are working with a tutor or teacher. Otherwise bad habits may develop by unguided practice.

A typical practice schedule for a successful student is about 20-30 minutes, five to seven days per week. Even 5 to 10 minutes of practice each night can be effective. Spreading out practice time is important. Two hours of practice in one evening is not nearly as beneficial as four evenings of 30 minutes.  I like to see students set a goal of practicing 140 minutes a week.

How will band work in 5th grade?

There are two modes of instruction – small group lessons, and large group band rehearsals.

The small group lessons are groups of 3-5 students who all play the same instrument, take place once a week for a half hour, and happen during the school day using a rotating schedule so that students don’t always miss during the same time.  Small group lessons usually start the second or third week of school.

Large group band rehearsals include everybody playing in band, last for 45 minutes, and are before school once a week.  Band rehearsals start in late October and continue through the final concert in late April.  A full schedule of rehearsals, lessons, and concerts will go home at the end of the first week of school in the fall.

Who is qualified to teach private lessons to a beginner?

There is an assumption that anyone with music experience can teach others up to their level. It’s easy to find private teachers who may say they will take beginners only. This may be due to a legitimate preference or it may be because the teacher only has an intermediate education on the instrument. Just as we wouldn’t consider hiring a person with a ninth grade reading ability to teach eighth grade readers we shouldn’t hire music teachers who lack a substantial background in music. The best teachers tend to be college graduates with music degrees. There are exceptions, but less qualified teachers sometimes don’t have an understanding of the finer points of a young musician’s development.