Instrument Choices: Woodwind

Violin PlayerThe common instruments in the woodwind family are used in orchestras, concert bands, brass bands, jazz bands and other instrumental ensembles. In a primary school band program the most popular instruments are Flute, Clarinet, Alto and Tenor saxophones, followed by Baritone Saxophone, Oboe and Bassoon which are less common but also appropriate for older Primary School-aged students.

There are four common instruments in the saxophone family (highest to lowest pitch): Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone. Typically students will start on Alto or Tenor but may add another saxophone in secondary school. Baritone saxophones are bigger and more expensive, students will often begin by trying an instrument owned by the school.

Recorders are still a popular classroom instrument and come in a range of sizes. Some students will continue to play recorder with individual lessons and/or play in a recorder ensemble.

Many woodwind instruments share similar fingering and technique so it is possible to switch between instruments, for example from Clarinet to Saxophone. There are a number of less common woodwind instruments (Piccolo, Cor Anglais, Bass Clarinet, Contrabassoon) which are generally taken as an additional instrument at the suggestion of an instrumental or ensemble teacher.

Ensembles: All of the woodwind instruments listed above are used in concert bands and orchestras, other than saxophones not being standard orchestral instruments and recorders not being standard instruments in either. Some school groups will accommodate saxophones in an orchestra. There are a range of other ensemble options, such as flute groups, saxophone quartets and so on.

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