Selecting the Right Band or Orchestra Instrument

Choosing the right instrument is a very important task. This may be a decision that a young musician will live with for many years to come. There are basically three methods that surface when band directors or music vendors are asked for assistance. First, some experts will emphasize physical characteristics of the student. They will match an instrument to students according to lip shape, mouth shape, hand size and overall physique. Second, others will attempt to convince students to choose less popular instruments in order to end up with a balanced band or orchestra. Both of these methods have merit but the third and best method is to simply encourage students to choose according to the sound of the instrument.

The first method of matching physical characteristics is perhaps the oldest and most popular method. While it may work for some, other students are led to an instrument that may be a physical match but not desirable to the young musician. Without that desire, the chances of success are very low.

Another argument against this method is to notice that many professional musicians are a terrible physical match with their instrument. There are so many of cases of trumpet players with overbites, bass players with small physiques and tuba players with thin lips. The many rules of physical characteristics are disproven time an time again by professionals who have their instrument despite apparent non matching physical characteristics.

The second method to choose an instrument according to a lack of popularity is often used by band directors to balance their band or orchestra. Again, it may work in some cases but isnšt the best method of choosing an instrument match for an individual student. Young musicians need to make the decision based on personal likes an dislikes of instruments sounds.

The best method is to select an instrument listening to the sound and determining which sound the young musician is most attracted to. Each instrument has a unique sound. Each student will tend to be attracted to some sounds more than others. Some desire the low sounds of a string bass or a tuba. Others will naturally lean towards the higher pitches of a flute while others will appreciate the beauty of a viola of the French Horn. Listening to recordings or best of all, live musicians will allow an instrument selection based on desire and attractiveness to sound.

Success of students in band and orchestra depends greatly on the desire to practice the instrument. Desire to make a musical sound on a certain instrument leads to more practice time witch ultimately leads to success and a lifetime of music appreciation.