Navigating the world of musical instruments can be a daunting task. It certainly needn't be! Today's musical instrument manufacturers and retailers are ready, able, and more than willing to guide you through this process. Many manufacturers now include features that were only available in professional instruments and are more available than ever. Investing in your child's musical future is an important decision and one that is easy and affordable.
Once a student reaches a level of comfort and enjoyment that seems to make practicing at home and school less work and more fun, it might be time to look at investing for the future. Students may notice that their instrument feels resistant or may not produce the tone they desire. Beginning or entry-level musical instruments are built to conserve costs and durability is the principal aim. A good-quality beginner instrument can often be retained for many years as a second instrument or one that can be used in activities such as marching band.
Oftentimes students are transitioning from elementary band to middle school or high school band programs, and have decided to continue their musical studies through the next grade level. Making this transition and achievement easier and more satisfying can be aided by getting a higher quality musical instrument.
Students may be inspired by pride of ownership, and the ease with which the new instrument plays. They may find that many musical passages are easier and more enjoyable to play and that the tone quality is superior to their beginner instrument's.
It is always best to consult your child's school music teacher, private instructor or music professional when looking at a new musical instrument. Each instrument type has specific features that should be considered in conjunction with playing level and teacher recommendation.
Flutes have specific features that are unique to that instrument that should be considered when looking to purchase. Flutes are available in both in-line and offset-G configurations, which can be selected based on student hand-size and teacher preference. Open-hole flutes and closed-hole models are also available. Open-hole, in-line configurations are very prevalent at the professional level, and adapting to these systems as early as possible could be a wise decision and could increase agility and facilitate proper finger technique. Flute body and headjoint materials as well as key material can help improve response, tone quality and flexibility. An extension of the footjoint to low B, versus C also increases the range of the flute.
Clarinets are usually made of either plastic or grenadilla wood. Step-up and professional clarinets are almost exclusively constructed of wood. Silver-plated keys and rings improve the feel and response versus their nickel-plated counterparts on beginner clarinets. The wood construction also improves the tone and resonance of the clarinet as well as its response. Wood clarinets are more sensitive to changes in heat and humidity and require greater care but provide superior performance.
When selecting a saxophone several options are available. Varying finishes or lacquer colors largely are cosmetic for the student and should not be a primary consideration. Keys may be lacquered versus nickel-plated and the system may include an extension to high-F# for increased range of performance. The saxophone's body materials may also be higher quality in the step-up and professional sax.
Trumpets may include better alloys in step-up instruments as well as plating options that can improve durability. Better valve construction and bore selection also give the trumpet player the ability to improve and expand tone colors and playing range.
Trombones can be either lacquered or plated and may also include an F-attachment (open and closed wrap) and include larger bore sizes for flexibility, increased resonance and playing dexterity.
French horns are avilable in both single and double-horn configurations. Advanced French horns include better alloys, and valve construction as well as finish options. Many schools provide French horns, and they are often professional level, which allows a student a great opportunity to try a horn before purchasing their own.
Tubas and euphoniums can include 4 valves versus 3 to improve the intonation of various valve combinations. Various tuba finishes are available as well as both rotary and piston valve systems. Often, the school provides tubas and euphoniums. A student should seek the advice of a teacher if they are considering purchasing their own instrument.
It is important to seek the advice and guidance of both music teachers and retail professionals when exploring the purchase of a step-up musical instrument. Once one is selected, the instrument provides a student with a tool to pursue a life-long love and exploration of music.
Woodwind & Brasswind is proud to offer high-quality step-up instruments and accessories for musicians from professional to beginner. All products are backed by The Woodwind & Brasswind's hassle free 45 day return policy, assuring that you will love the products you choose!
Chris Ferrell is the director of bands at Hillgrove High School in the Atlanta suburb of Power Springs. His bands and organizations have presented clinics and concerts for the Ohio Music Educators Association and throughout North Texas.
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