INSTRUMENT INFO.

Staples band members perform at the

Westport Pops Concert,

Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts

GENERAL

Music is a joy to study and experience, and a well-cared-for instrument makes this possible. A musical instrument is a substantial investment in time and money. We encourage you to take the necessary steps to ensure its proper maintenance and security. The following statement explains the responsibility of parents and students regarding student-owned instruments.

 

Musical instruments owned by students are not covered by the school for theft, loss, or damage. Such coverage is the responsibility of the parent and a variety of options can be provided through the rental/purchase retailer, parents’ homeowners’ policy, a rider on such policy, or through such providers as Clarion Insurance http://www.clarionins.com/ 

 

Students are welcome to store their instruments at school during the school day. However, it is encouraged that instruments be taken home at the end of the day. Instruments should always be taken home for weekends, holidays, and vacations as the schools do not take responsibility for instruments left in schools over these time periods.

 

Instruments owned by the Westport Schools are maintained by the school system for normal repairs and normal wear-and-tear.  Parents of students who use school-owned instruments pay a set usage fee to help cover those needs. However, students will be held responsible for instruments that are damaged, lost, or stolen through student abuse or neglect.

 

Please take steps to ensure the maintenance, care and protection of your investment.  A well-cared-for musical instrument will be a joy upon which many life skills and long-term enjoyment can be built.  Please speak to your child’s band or orchestra teacher if you have further questions.

INSTRUMENT CHOICES

                           
 
                            FLUTE
                                   The flute is the smallest of the beginner instruments. It is a very popular selection each year, but                                             only a small portion of those wishing to play flute will be selected.

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.

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

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                            OBOE
                                   The oboe is similar in its appearance to a clarinet, but it is played using a “double reed” instead of                                             a single reed and mouthpiece. Selection of oboe players is EXTREMELY limited. VERY few will                                                     actually be selected for oboe.

Physical Characteristics
Students with profound overbites or underbites would have EXTREME  difficulties producing good sounds on the oboe since the embouchure (mouth position) requires equal pressure on both sides of the reed at the same placement.
 
Other Considerations
Because the oboe is such a difficult instrument to master, only students with high academic performance records will be considered. Students who choose (and are selected) to play oboe are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to take weekly private lessons due to the complexity of the instrument. Students should maintain a supply of 3-4 high-quality reeds at ALL times. 

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                            CLARINET
                                   Unlike the oboe, the clarinet uses a “single reed” and a mouthpiece to produce sound. Unfortunately,                                       there are some clarinets on the market whose poor design and craftsmanship will make it next to                                           impossible for your student to succeed. We can help you avoid that pitfall, ultimately saving you from                                     costly repairs and replacement.

Physical Characteristics
One necessity of clarinet tone production is the ability to make the chin flat. Orthodontia is okay, but if a student has an extremely rounded bottom row of teeth, the mouthpiece will be hard to place in the proper position for tone production.

Other Considerations
Instruction in clarinet can be meticulous. Students who are able to focus on and perform a detailed series of instructions could do well on clarinet. Clarinet players are also responsible for maintaining a working stock of 3-4 quality reeds.

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                            BASSOON
                                   The bassoon is to the oboe what the bass clarinet is to the clarinet. It is the larger, lower sounding                                               version of the double reed instrument. However, bassoon students will not play oboe before                                                         switching, instead they will begin on the bassoon itself. 

Physical Characteristics
A slight overbite is okay for students wishing to play bassoon, however a student with an underbite should avoid bassoon. Agile thumbs is a necessity for playing bassoon proficiently as well as a medium or greater hand span.

Other Considerations
Like the oboe, the bassoon is a difficult instrument to master, therefore students who choose to play bassoon are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to take weekly private lessons. Students should maintain a supply of 3-4 high-quality reeds at ALL times.

 

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                            SAXOPHONE
                                   The alto saxophone gives the impression of being both a brass AND woodwind instrument, however                                       it is indeed considered a woodwind instrument. The alto saxophone (which uses a single reed like the                                     clarinet) is a very popular instrument like flute and only a few students will be chosen to play it.

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 3-4 quality reeds.  Alto saxophone students will have the opportunity after their first year of instruction to audition for tenor sax or baritone sax (based on their proven musical and behavioral abilities while in alto saxophone class). 

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                            TRUMPET
                                   The trumpet is the smallest member of the brass family. The sound on trumpet is produced by                                                 buzzing into a small mouthpiece. 
 
Physical Characteristics
While orthodontia is somewhat troublesome at first to a 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 trumpet. Trumpet players come in all shapes and sizes.

Other Considerations
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.
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                            FRENCH HORN
                                   The French horn is the also a member of the brass family. Its sound is produced by buzzing into a                                           small mouthpiece similar to a trumpet. Students with good "musical ears" should consider French                                           horn.
 
Physical Characteristics
A slight overbite is okay, but an underbite can severely hinder progress on French horn. Because the bell of the French horn rests on the knee of the player while playing, it is imperative that a student’s upper torso be long enough to
accommodate the size of the French horn to make good sounds and that players be able to demonstrate sitting straight up when asked to do so. The French horn’s keys 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. Perhaps this is a good instrument choice for students who have participated in piano lessons or choral groups. Private lessons are strongly encouraged for French horn due to the complexity of the instrument.
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                            TROMBONE
                                   Like the 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 hearing to tell if                                             they are in the EXACT proper location. Students with good "musical ears" should consider trombone.

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. A slight overbite is acceptable, while an extreme underbite would hinder success. Students with very thin lips are encouraged to consider French horn or trumpet.

Other Considerations
Great trombone playing takes good concentration and study. Many quiet academicians have excelled at trombone.
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                            EUPHONIUM/BARITONE
                                  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 (like trombone).

Physical Characteristics
Students with very thin lips are encouraged to consider French horn or trumpet. A SLIGHT overbite is okay, but an underbite 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.  
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                            TUBA
                                   While many believe the tuba is the largest instrument in the band and would be hard to physically                                           manage, the tubas we use for beginners are ¾ size and easy to handle. In fact, some tuba players                                           will begin by playing a euphonium and will switch over later in the fall semester.

Physical Characteristics
Tuba players need to have average to 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
The tuba provides the musical foundation for the band and requires players that are self-motivated over-achievers. 
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                            PERCUSSION
                                   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. 

Physical Characteristics
Students should exhibit a great deal of coordination in gross and fine motor skills due to the complex manipulation of a wide variety of sticks, mallets, and performance accessories (tambourine, triangle and more).
 
Other Considerations
The study of percussion includes bells, triangle, tambourine, maracas, claves, among many other instruments. Private lessons for percussion are strongly encouraged due to the nature of the instrument group and the amount of material that will be covered in class.
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RENTAL INFORMATION