September Start-Up

New Instruments Selection Guide

If you are starting a new instrument or switching instruments, this guide will help you with your decision making process. ASK QUESTIONS, TRY HARD, WATCH YOUTUBE VIDEOS. Make a decision but make it a good one. The instruments highlighted in RED are instruments we usually need more of.

Consider This:

  1. If you’ve been playing an instrument for some time and haven’t developed, a switch might not always help you. Find the root of the problem (practicing?).
  2. If you’ve been playing an instrument for some time and you’re afraid of starting all over again on a new instrument, don’t worry. You will likely learn it quicker and with fewer bad habits. People with prior knowledge on an instrument find that they have plenty of transferable skills to new instruments.


Role: The flute primarily plays melodies.

Popularity: We always have too many flutes. Cheap and easy to carry... this is why people usually pick the flute. We will be asking many flute players to change.

Best Move: Oboe, Bassoon, Tenor or Bari Sax

Characteristics of the Player: If you’re shy, lots of other people play this instrument too. If you like blending your sounds with the 50 million (slight exaggeration) other flute players in band, this is for you. We have very few flutes on our shelves. If you want to play flute, you should own or rent your own.

EXAMPLE: This is a pretty cool flute player but there are probably better examples of what the flute was designed for.


Role: Supports the flutes and plays very “exposed” solos.

Popularity: Not too popular. We need oboe players.

Characteristics of the Player: This instrument is meant for weirdos (I mean that in a good way). I have never known a "normal" oboist. Having said that, they are wonderful people and are usually great musicians. They tend to defend each other. The senior oboists will protect you and give you lots of help. You need to have a good ear to play in tune and you will need to work hard through the first year to develop a tone that doesn’t sound like a duck in a blender. It does get better though. Be warned, oboe reeds cost $15 each so you need to take care of them. You need to be persistent to get through the first month and then things get a little better.

EXAMPLE: This oboe solo might make you cry it’s so pretty.


Role: They play the tenor and bass parts in the band like the trombone.

Popularity: Not too popular. We need Bassoon players.

Characteristics of the Player: These people are weirdos too and are rare. You have to be someone who likes to work in small groups and you need to be very independent. We have had some of the best bassoon players in Ontario go through our program and it is not because of our teaching. It is because they work hard and take the initiative to learn on their own. If you move to this instrument it is very advantageous to have already played another instrument and done well. The instrument has awkward fingerings and is also hard to tune at first. Reeds also cost $15. Because you are one of the lowest instruments in the woodwind section, you are a part of the "freak" section which gets you extra respect. WE LOVE BASSOON PLAYERS! You need to work hard, be a great musician, and be a persistent, independent learner.

EXAMPLE: What’s better than one bassoon? 4 bassoons!


Role: They play soprano and alto parts in the band. They get lots of melodies and the 3rd parts are always nice and low.

Popularity: Like the flutes, the clarinet sections are usually very heavy populated.

Best Move: Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Bari Sax

Characteristics of the Player: If you like to blend in with a large group, this is a good place to be. Clarinet parts in band are often fast and you need good hand/eye coordination. The first few notes are very easy to get. Playing higher notes is difficult at first.

EXAMPLE: You would be spending your time wisely by watching lots of Martin Frost videos.

Bass Clarinet

Role: They play the bass parts and sometimes play really important melodies. They play the fundamental notes of the chord so they need to be strong (musically).

Popularity: We usually need bass clarinet players.

Characteristics of the Player: The Bass Clarinetist usually started as a clarinet player and decided he/she wanted to play in a smaller section. These are very important members of the band because there are usually not too many of them and therefore need to be independent. Developing a good, strong tone is very important. You will support the low notes of the piece and are very important.

EXAMPLE: This example shows the music instead of the instrument. It’s hella cool!

Alto Sax

Role: They play the alto parts and often play the melody.

Popularity: We always have too many alto sax players.

Best Move: Bari sax, French horn, bass clarinet, tenor sax, bassoon

Characteristics of the Player: Alto sax players are usually good looking but often very dumb. In a band of 70 people, we should have about 4 altos. It is one of the easiest instruments to begin playing but the demands are high as you progress. Altos usually have to play very fast music and have difficulty tuning higher notes.

EXAMPLE: If you’re going to play alto sax, you have to know who Charlie Parker is. Here’s what that guy could do.

Tenor Sax

Role: They play the tenor parts and often play the middle accompaniment and counter melodies.

Popularity: Not as popular as the alto but we generally find them.

Characteristics of the Player: If you want to play the sax but like to beautiful counter melodies instead of main melodies, you’ll do well on tenor. It's a bigger instrument so you can't be wimpy and say "it's too heavy" in a really whiny voice. If you can manage that, people will respect you. All of the saxophones are very similar. Most people can move between them very easily.

EXAMPLE: The saxophone is mainly a jazz instrument. Here’s a more classical version.

Baritone Sax

Role: They play the bass parts and often play the fundamental pitches of chords which makes them very important.

Popularity: Not very popular because of its size. It is waayy cooler than the other instruments.

Characteristics of the Player: The bari sax doesn’t have to play a lot, but when it does, it needs to sound really good. Developing a good sound on the bari sax is a challenge. It takes lots of long tones. This is a good instrument for people who want to play in a really small section. You need to be a leader. You will also need to learn to deal with it being a big instrument. You can’t be a complainer.

EXAMPLE: The baritone sax is one of those instruments that usually sits in the back and holds everything together. This wasn’t the example I was looking for but it sure shows what the bari can do. Look up a band called the Tower of Power and listen to that Bari sax player. They rock!

French Horn

Role: They play a lot of the music that the alto saxes play but they sound waaaaaayyyyy cooler. When they play a melody, people melt because it is so beautiful. When loud, they play some of the coolest parts in the band.

Popularity: Not as popular because it is a challenge. We need them.

Characteristics of the Player: This is a hard instrument to learn. If you have good singing skills and a good ear, that will really help you. It also helps to have a good piano back ground. You shouldn’t play this unless you want to be a music geek. This is a hard instrument to get started on but it’s easier once you get used to the fundamentals.

EXAMPLE: This isn’t a cool example but let's face it, French Horn players are nerds and they like it that way. If you actually watch this entire video, you may be confused. But if you make it to the end, you are meant to be a French Horn player.


Role: This is the soprano instrument of the brass family. They play most of the melodies and bring excitement to the band.

Best Move: French horn, tuba, euphonium

Characteristics of the Player: You can have a variety of character traits to play trumpet. Lead trumpet players tend to be a bit show-offy. Third trumpet players tend to be shy. We need both of these types. Playing with good tone and playing high notes require dedicated practice of fundamentals.

EXAMPLE: Arutoro Sandoval is so good at the trumpet that it really isn’t right. No one should be good at anything this much.


Role: This the tenor voice in the brass section. They play counter melodies and help support the higher brass. They bring the attitude to a band.

Popularity: Should be much more popular than they are. We need them.

Characteristics of the Player: They tend to be the strong, silent type. They’re happy to make others in the group look good but know that the band is only good because of them. This is a good section for leaders and loud people.

EXAMPLE: Meh... this guys is sort of good at the trombone. This is the grade 10 exam, by the way.


Role: Like the trombone, they are a tenor voice. As they progress, the quickly start playing difficult lines like what the clarinet would have.

Popularity: Should be much more popular than they are. We need them.

Characteristics of the Player: People who want to be soloists tend to do well with the Euphonium.

EXAMPLE: Ouch! Flight of the Bumble Bee on a Euphonium... that’s not supposed to happen.


Role: Bass. They play the fundamentals of the accompaniment.

Popularity: Should be much more popular than they are. We really need them.

Characteristics of the Player: You can’t show the tuba fear. In fact, there isn’t any reason to fear the tuba. It takes a lot of air but it doesn’t matter what size you are. It’s a big instrument but I’ve seen many smaller people tackle it just fine. It is much more awkward to carry around so you can’t be wimpy and complain about it being too heavy. THIS IS THE QUARTERBACK OF THE BAND!!! IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INSTRUMENT and people are afraid to take it on mainly because they are complainy.

EXAMPLE: We played this piece with our Wind Ensemble a few years ago.


Role: Percussion is not "drums". It is the rhythmic engine of the band and when played well, it brings the band to a new level. You need to play all of the percussion instruments.

Popularity: More popular than it should be. It’s harder to play than people think and you can’t double parts so we don’t want a lot of percussionists.

Characteristics of the Player: You need to be organized, responsible, independent, and energetic. You’re main instruments are snare drum, mallet percussion, and timpani. That’s right you have to master THREE instruments in addition to a ton of others.


Bayview Music Newsletter Report a Band Absence Report a Choir Absence Get a Music Tutor FAQ Contact Us