Band Instrument Selection

What instrument should I play?

Dear Future Band Parents,

Band Recruitment time is HERE for rising 5th grade students! Your student is currently going through the pre-screening process to determine which instrument would best fit him or her. Choosing an instrument to learn is an exciting first step to learning music. This guide will help you understand how the instrument selection process works.

Your student has been learning about the various instrument families in music class. Your student will take that knowledge and make three instrument selections that is a combination of instruments from the woodwind, brass, and [or] percussion families. Your student will then be tested on the 3 instruments they have chosen to determine which instrument is the best-fit for your student.

Instrument Demonstrations


Spring Band Rental Meeting

Thursday, May 12, 2016

5:30pm - 7:00pm

Woodwind Family


The flute is the smallest of the beginner instruments.

Personality: Careful & Studious

Physical Characteristics: Flute players should have a slight “frown” to the upper lip with NO tear drop shape in the middle. Flute tones are produced by being able to focus an extremely small air stream to an exact location on the tone hole. The tear-drop-shaped lip will make it difficult to direct the air so precisely. Flute players should also have agile fingers for moving this multi-keyed instrument through a fast musical passage. Students with extreme overbites (receded jaw) should avoid choosing flute as this makes it difficult to produce quality sounds. Flexible lower lip desirable.

Other Considerations: Students with double-jointed fingers should avoid selecting flute as double-jointedness can cause lack of agility in the fingers.



The oboe is a small woodwind instrument that is similar to a clarinet. It uses a double reed.

Personality: Patient & Scholarly

Physical Characteristics: Oboe players usually have small to medium size lips that cover the teeth. Fingers should be long and agile. Other Considerations: Students with double-jointed fingers should avoid selecting oboe as this condition can cause lack of agility in the fingers. The oboe takes a lot more time to master than some of the other instruments. Students who like a challenge are a good fit for the oboe. Some orthodontia ok.



The clarinet uses a “single reed” and a mouthpiece to produce the sound. Clarinet is a popular instrument each year and many students will get the opportunity to play. Physical

Personality: Diligent & Focused

Characteristics: One necessity of clarinet tone production is the ability to make the chin flat. Other Considerations: Students who have difficulty remembering a series of instructions should avoid playing clarinet. Clarinet players are also responsible for maintaining a working stock of 4-6 quality reeds.



The saxophone is a woodwind instrument. It uses a single reed. They come in different sizes: alto (small), tenor (medium), and baritone (large).

Personality: Jazzy & Outgoing

Physical Characteristics: Since the balance of the saxophone is maintained by the use of a neck strap, it is extremely important that students be able to sit up completely straight when asked to.

Other Considerations: Saxophone players are responsible for maintaining a working stock of 4-6 quality reeds.


Brass Family


The cornet/trumpet is the smallest member of the brass family. The sound on the cornet/trumpet is produced by buzzing into a small cup-shaped mouthpiece. This is a popular instrument.

Personality: Confident & Daring

Physical Characteristics: While orthodontia is somewhat troublesome to a cornet/trumpet player, it is not impossible to make good sounds with braces. A slight overbite is okay, but an underbite can severely hinder progress on cornet/trumpet. Cornet/Trumpet players come in all shapes and sizes.

Other Considerations: Cornet/Trumpet parts usually have the melody (recognizable) part. Therefore, students who choose and are selected for trumpet should exhibit a confident demeanor, strong personality, and demonstrate a high level of self-motivation.


French horn

The French Horn is a member of the brass family. The sound of the French Horn is produced by buzzing into a small mouthpiece similar to a trumpet. Students with good musical ears (such as piano/guitar players) should consider French Horn.

Personality: Academic, Brave, Risk-taker

Physical Characteristics: While orthodontia is somewhat troublesome to a French Horn player, it is not impossible to make good sounds with braces. A slight overbite is okay, but an underbite can severely hinder progress on French Horn. The French Horn’s valves are manipulated with the LEFT hand.

Other Considerations: Because of the difficult nature of French Horn notes (mentioned above), students should exhibit GREAT ability to match sung or played pitches by humming or singing. This is a good instrument choice for students who have participated in piano/guitar lessons. Students with a history of academic or behavioral problems will NOT be selected for French Horn.

French Horn


Trombone players should have good “musical ears”. The trombone is played like the other brass instruments (buzzing into a cup-shaped mouthpiece), but uses a slide instead of valves. The slide is not marked or notched and players rely on their memory and listening skills to tell if they are in the EXACT proper location. Students with good musical ears should consider Trombone.

Personality: Sense of Humor & Good Ear for Music

Physical Characteristics: While some might think that trombone players must have long arms, the truth is there are numerous accommodations that make it possible for students of all shapes and sizes to play. Trombone players should have slightly fuller lips than average.

Other Considerations: Great trombone playing takes good concentration and study. Many quiet academicians have excelled at trombone.



The euphonium (you-PHONE-knee-yum) is sometimes known as the baritone. It is a member of the brass family and looks like a small version of a tuba. Its sound is similar to that of a trombone, but it uses valves like a trumpet instead of a slide.
Personality: Artistic

Physical Characteristics: Euphonium players should have moderately full lips, but not too full. A SLIGHT overbite is okay, but an under bite would hinder a good sound. The euphonium requires a medium-sized hand span to reach the valves and students should have an above average lung capacity.

Other Considerations: Students with an above average amount of orthodontia will find the mouthpiece of the euphonium a bit more comfortable than trumpet or French horn. RRES provides euphoniums for students at a cost of $50 (maintenance fee) for an entire school year, but students are required to purchase their own mouthpieces.



The tuba is the largest instrument in the band and many would believe it would be hard to physically manage. The tubas we use for beginners are 3/4 size and easy to handle. There are a limited amount of tubas, students who are not selected for tuba may be recommended to play a euphonium (smaller version).

Personality: Unique & Fun Loving

Physical Characteristics: Tuba players need to have full lips and a large lung capacity. While the size of the student doesn’t matter TOO much, a long torso (upper body) helps a student reach the mouthpiece of the tuba while resting the bottom of the tuba on the edge of their chair or across the thighs.

Other Considerations: Instruments stay at school during the weekdays. Parents should arrange for tuba pick-up on Friday by 5:15 p.m. and tuba drop-off on Monday morning before school starts. Truck with cover for bed or SUV are recommended vehicles. Braces ok.




Just because you are always tapping on things does not mean you are a natural percussionist (drummer). In fact, the percussion section is the most select, hand-picked section of the band. ONLY students with the highest grades, lowest discipline problems, backgrounds in piano lessons, and extremely high gross and fine motor skills will be considered for percussion.
Personality: Coordinated & organized

Physical Characteristics: Students should exhibit a great deal of coordination in gross and fine motor skills.

Other Considerations: The study of percussion includes bells, triangle, tambourine, maracas, claves, bells, xylophone, marimba, and timpani among many other instruments.