In 6th grade, I got to pick out what instrument I wanted to play in band. We were led a couple at a time into the gym, where there were tables set up with all of the instruments we could choose from. The advice from the band director was “If you can pick it up and make a sound come out, you should play it.” After trying a couple and being told I’d have to take my instrument home, I chose the smallest one there: the flute.
Each child is going to be drawn to a different instrument for a different reason. By having your child answer a few questions before he or she chooses one, it might be easier to pick from the myriad of instruments.
First, assess whether your child wants his or her instrument voice to stand out a lot, or be more in the background. There tends to be a large amount of flutes and clarinets in school bands, so those instruments, as well as bass ones like the tuba and baritone saxophone, will be more in the background. Trumpets, drums, and horns are more likely to stand out a bit.
Size does matter, especially if your child will need to bring his or her instrument home often to practice. For instance, a drum or tuba might be more difficult to ride on the school bus with. Also, if the school participates in marching band, the student will have to be big enough to carry the instrument while marching.
Each instrument is different in terms of how it’s played. Have your child rule out any of the ways he or she would not like to play an instrument. There’s pushing keys down, covering holes with your fingers, hitting with sticks, and sliding a slide. There is also a difference between having to use a reed versus having to buzz your lips.
While ruling a couple instruments out this way will help, the best way to choose an instrument is to try them. Have your child have some fun picking them up, holding them, and trying to make a sound. The most important part is to have fun!
For more information about choosing a musical instrument, trying them, and buying them, visit Midwest Musical Imports in Minneapolis, MN.