Choosing An Instrument to Play

  • Trying to decide what instrument to play?  Here are some resources to help you in your decision-making!

     If Mrs. Dyal and your family chooses an instrument and we get to beginning band camp or the first few weeks of school and realize it isn't going to work for your student, we will work through that with Fuller's and make sure you get an instrument that will help your child be the most successful.


    Here is a YouTube playlist about all of the instruments in the band that the US Navy Band created! 

United States Army Field Band Beginning Band Demos

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What instruments can we play in the sixth grade? 

    A: Students can choose to play the Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax (limited spots), Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone (limited spots), and Percussion (limited spots)

    Q: Why do some instruments only have limited spots? 

    A:  Alto Saxophones are very loud instruments, and we just don't need but so many in our ensembles in order to have a good sound.  Baritones are provided by the school, and we have a limited number of instruments available.  Lastly, percussion is a popular instrument family but there is often just not enough parts to play in our music, causing students to be bored because they do not have anything to play. Sometimes, if we have a LOT of students sign up for band we may take more in each limited category, but we have to make sure we have a GREAT SOUND as a full band.  


    Q:  What if I know I want to switch to a different instrument that's not one we can start on?  What should I play? 

    A:  If you want to play oboe or bassoon you should start on clarinet or flute and know that you will be required to take private lessons when you switch.  If you want to play french horn you should start on trumpet or flute.  Those students that want to play tuba should start on trombone.  Students that want to play tenor saxophone or baritone saxophone should start on either alto saxophone or on clarinet. 


    Q:  What is the easiest instrument to play?

    A:  There isn't an instrument that is necessarily "easier" than another.  Some instruments are easier at the beginning but a little harder later in the year, like the clarinet.  Some instruments are harder at the beginning, like the flute, but get easier as you keep practicing.  There are some things that make it harder to play an instrument because of your actual body design-the things you cannot fix!  See the "things to try" section for tips to make sure you are picking an instrument you are physically able to play. When you meet with Mrs. Dyal we will also recomomend instruments if you are unsure of what you are interested in playing. 


    Q:  What instruments does the school have available for sixth graders? 

    A:  We have a limited number of school instruments available for students who cannot afford to rent or purchase their own.  We have flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, and baritones available for students to check out.  Students are still responsible for their books and supplies for the instrument.   

Tips and Tricks for Deciding on an Instrument!

  • Interested in playing clarinet? 

    Clarinet is a great instrument choice if you want to switch to oboe, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, or bass clarinet after Winter Break or in 7th grade.  While switching instruments isn't guaranteed, the clarinet is one that many students are able to switch off of to play another instrument.  There is never a cap on the number of clarinet players we will have in the band. 


    Interested in playing the flute? 

    One of the hardest parts of learning to play the flute is producing the first sounds on the headjoint.  You can try this process using a soda bottle!  Here's a video that shows you how from a flute player. 


    Interested in playing the trumpet? 

    Try to make a buzz using just your lips like they demonstrate at the beginning of this video

    Here is another great example of the buzz in a video you can try at home


    Interested in playing the alto saxophone?

    Something to consider:  students that are small in size will generally struggle with the saxophone due to its size.  It is also the most expensive instrument to repair if you choose to purchase rather than rent.  Students that are successful on alto saxophone are good listeners and detail-oriented.  


    Interested in trombone, baritone or tuba?  

    Try to make a buzz using just your lips like is demonstrated in this video! (Go to about the 3:00 minute mark to start the actual demonstration)

    The baritone is a school-owned instrument and students that play it will only have to provide a mouthpiece and ensure that they have valve oil.  We take two or three baritone players each year depending on the number of instruments available.  


    Interested in playing percussion? 

    Make sure you realize that percussion includes the bells, xylophone, marimba, chimes, concert toms, timpani, bass drum, triangle, suspended cymbal, crash cymbals, guiro, claves, tambourine, and oh, yeah, the snare drum.  Students that play percussion will spend 6-8 weeks ONLY playing mallet instruments before the snare drum is even introduced.  


    Pretty sure you will be getting braces?  

    This is a typical middle school situation and we work through it all the time.  Brass players that get braces generally do better at the trombone than playing trumpet, however, many of my best trumpet players got braces and were able to do some embouchure adjusting and get right back to work.  Woodwind players tend to have some transition time, but then they figure it out.  Flute is probably the hardest woodwind instrument to play with braces.  Just know that braces is not a reason to avoid band or the instrument you have always wanted to play.  We will work through it together.