Choosing a Musical Instrument On your Child - A Parents' Help guide Woodwinds


Many people find themselves thrown in to the world of musical instruments they understand nothing about when their children first begin music in school. Knowing the basics of proper instrument construction, materials, deciding on a good store in order to rent or buy these instruments is extremely important. Just what exactly process should a mother or father follow to make the best ways for their child? - DJ Battlecat Style Instrumental

Clearly the first step is to choose a guitar. Let your child get their choice. Kids don't make developed solid relationships . big decisions regarding life, and this is a large one that can be very empowering. I can also say from personal experience that children have a natural intuition by what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is to put a child into a room to try no more than 3-5 different choices, and allow them make their choice based on the sound they like best.

This data is intended to broaden your horizons, to not create a preference, or to put you in a position to nit-pick inside the store! Most instruments are really well made these days, and selecting a respected retailer will help you to trust recommendations. Ask your school and/or private music teacher where you should shop.

Woodwind instruments are produced all over the world, but primarily in the us, Germany, France, and China. Whenever we talk about Woodwind instruments, we're referring to members of the Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Oboe, and Bassoon families.


All Woodwinds involve a very complex, interconnected mechanism which needs to be regulated so that the keys all move and seal the holes with the instrument when they are designed to. Your trusted local retailer will probably be sure to get you a musical instrument that is 'set up', although many new instruments come ready to go out of the box. When you are handling a brand new instrument, you need to bring it back to a store for a check-up after about A few months, or sooner should there be any issues. Because every one of the materials are new and tight, they could come out of regulation as the instrument is broken in. This can be normal. You should rely on this kind of regulation every 12-18 months, or sooner in the event the instrument is played a great deal.

Woodwinds also have pads. Pads will be the part of the instrument that seal over the holes in the body from the instrument (toneholes). A perfect seal is required to produce the correct note. Tuning and quality of sound are affected by a correctly 'seated' pad. These also occasionally give up, as part of your regular maintenance, although rarely all at once. When all pads need to be replaced (once every 8-10 years), this is accomplished as part of a comprehensive 'overhaul' from the instrument which includes taking everything apart, cleaning it, refitting and tightening loose parts, and replacing springs and corks as necessary. It is a rare procedure, and usually reserved for professionals. Taking care repair is the most common one for folks.

Because of the many rods and key-cups (these contain the pads), there are a lot of very sensitive, easy to bend parts of these instruments. Finding out how to assemble them properly is vital to avoiding unwanted repairs. Be sure to ask your local retailer for your proper way to assemble your instrument. This can be the cause of the most common repairs, accompanied by bumping into things. - DJ Battlecat Style Instrumental


Interestingly, don't assume all woodwinds are made from wood. Flutes and saxophones are produced primarily of metals; Nickel-silver and silver for Flutes, and often Brass for Saxophones. We'll follow these materials for these instruments for simplicity's sake, since there are increasingly more choices available.

For the rest of the Woodwind instruments, wood is actually employed for the main construction of the instruments.

Flutes & Saxophones

Student Flutes are made from Nickel-Silver, then plated in silver. Nickel-Silver can be a combination of brass with Nickel, that includes a similar look to Silver when polished, hence its name. One of its primary advantages is it is stronger than brass or silver independently. As you progress to better instruments more Silver is utilized, starting with the headjoint (the actual most important factor in a top quality of sound). On headjoints later.

Saxophones are generally made out of brass. Try to find a device that has 'ribbing' on the body; extra plates of brass that provide structural support over a region where multiple posts put on the body. This provides strength to the occasional and unavoidable bumps that your young students are bound to have. Some student Saxes have keywork created from Nickel-Silver, which is a good way of strength in a vulnerable area.

Clarinets and Oboes

Clarinet and Oboe our body is typically made of ABS plastic for student instruments. A great strategy for bumps, but in addition against the maintenance habits and climate changes that students face. Intermediate and professional instruments are constructed of Grenadilla wood (which is changing as Grenadilla edges on the endangered list). Because they are made of wood they ought to be protected against cracking. If a student doesn't swab their instrument out after playing, the moisture could cause the wood to grow and crack. Likewise, bringing your instrument to college on a cold day and playing it without letting it come to room temperature will cause it to crack, as well as rupture. This is caused a pressure differential from a warm air column on the medial side the instrument, as opposed to the cold temperature outside of the instrument. If you decide to get a wood instrument, be certain your student is in a position and able to look after it properly.

Keys on Clarinets and Oboes are usually made from Nickel-Silver, but can be manufactured with Silver plating, or any other materials.


Student Bassoons are made from ABS plastic, but there are several new makers available in the market that offer Hard Rubber, and in addition Maple (used in professional instruments). A downside for Hard Rubber Bassoons is that they are quite heavy. If you possibly could get a good wood Bassoon for a reasonable price, then choose this. Wood offers the best acoustics for Bassoon, and can make the difference between a plain sound, and one which is rich and interesting.

Keywork on Bassoons is equally made from Nickel-Silver, often silver plated.


While using the word 'mouthpiece' for woodwinds can be confusing. Here are the instruments using the correct names for your corresponding part of the instrument which makes the sound:((Flute: Headjoint
Clarinet: Mouthpiece (using a single reed)
Saxophone: Mouthpiece (having a single reed)
Oboe: Double reed (two reeds tied plus a hole in between)
Bassoon: Double reed (two reeds tied with a hole in between)

Whatever the instrument, this is the section of the whole that makes the highest impact on the quality of the sound, along with the player's personal physical attributes. Students generally use what they get from their teacher, but listed below are some tips about how to get the most from your equipment. Obtaining a good mouthpiece can precede, and even postpone the purchase of a brand new Clarinet or Sax, so great is the difference with hard rubber.
(For Flute, make sure your headjoint cork is properly aligned, and never dried out. Your local retailer will highlight how to do this. Should there be problems, have them fixed immediately, or choose a different flute. For more intermediate flutes, pick a headjoint that is not only made entirely of Silver, but is hand-cut. This may not always be easier to play initially, but the sound quality improvement will be worth making the leap. Silver sounds a lot better than Nickel-Silver, producing a better tone quality, with more room for changing the standard according to the player's needs. You should buy headjoints separately, but it can be quite expensive, and I advise out of this until you reach a specialist flute.

Oboe and Bassoon use two opposing, slightly curved reeds tied together that vibrate against one another when air passes together. Advanced oboists/bassoonists make reeds for themselves, a time-consuming, skill-heavy task. It will require many years to learn to make reeds for yourself, that work well. Fortunately, you will find ready-made reeds that generally meet the needs of the student player. One primary factor you should test is usually to assure that the reed 'crows' perfectly with the pitch 'C'. Crowing a reed is blowing through it when it is not attached to the instrument. Test the crow which has a tuner.

Clarinets and Saxophones work with a single reed (small part of very well shaped and profiled cane) linked with a mouthpiece (by the ring called a 'ligature') that vibrates when air is passed between the two. The combination of these parts is vital to a good sound. Most students obtain a plastic mouthpiece to start. Good plastic mouthpieces are produced by Yamaha for both Clarinet and Saxophone, together with the designation of '4C'. I recommend a '5C' if it is available. It's going to be a little harder to experience at first, but a good way to get a bigger sound right off the bat. If you'd like to get a better quality of sound with increased room for good loud and soft playing while maintaining and introducing a rich tone, then consider a Hard Rubber Mouthpiece. Hard rubber is superior to plastic acoustically, and must be hand finished, unlike the plastic variety, which is spit out of a mold and polished/tumbled for shine. These are noticeably more expensive, however you should expect to spend within the $100-150 range for a decent Hard Rubber mouthpiece. Good names include: Selmer, Vandoren, Otto Link, Meyer, Yamaha, and Leblanc. Your local retailer should stock at least two of these brands that you can try - and you should try them! Because these are generally hand finished, they are usually subtly different.

What about sizes?

Clarinet and Saxophone mouthpieces have a wide range of different sizing areas, and also for the sake of simplicity, the most crucial is the 'tip opening'. Tip opening means the distance between the tip of the reed and the tip of the mouthpiece. Sadly, there isn't any standardized system for measuring tip openings, but they are commonly measured in millimetres, or employing a numbering system (usually beginning at number 5, each student sizing), or even letters. The metric method usually is made up of two to three numbers; a dent of 2.97mm might be listed as 297, or as 97, with regards to the maker. The numbering system can be listed as 5, 5*, 6, 6*, 7, etc. The 'star' numbers is highly recommended half-sizes. Letters work exactly the same as numbers generally; C, C*, D, D*, etc.

To give your student a leg up, aim for a '6', or 'D' sizing. This can be bigger than what they are utilized to, but will pay off which has a bigger sound right away. Some notes about the ends of your range, both high and low, will likely suffer, however is only temporary because you adjust to the new mouthpiece and develop greater strength.

Other pursuits

Oil and Adjust. This treatment needs to be conducted in your student's instrument annually, and up frequently, if there is lots of playing. The mechanics from the interconnected parts is delicate, and arrives of alignment often.

Bore oiling. One per year this will be required on Clarinets and Oboes to aid guard against cracking.

Avoid cheap instruments. With instruments you get what you spend on. There are a lot of instruments originating from India and China now. Many are excellent, while many others should not even have been made. Any local, respected dealer must have those that are reliable, and definately will stand behind them. Your big-box Costco, Wal-Mart, Biggest score, and e-Bay has no knowledge of these matters, and functions for bottom line only. Avoid these places. They won't possibly offer you the continued assistance, service, or repair a developing and interested student will require. If you choose this route, require American, European, or Japanese-made instruments. This really is a major separator of good from bad. People who make in these places are often very well trained and a part of a history of excellent wind instrument making. Your neighborhood, trusted retailer will help to guide you in the choices available, please remember that just because it says USA, or Paris about it, does not mean it was made in these places. Functions sometimes making this stuff part of the 'name' of the instrument.((Just how much should I spend?

Which is the big question. Remember that popular instruments, like Flute and Clarinet, are less costly because they are made in greater quantities. Some instruments, like Oboe and Bassoon, are challenging and time-consuming to generate, making them more expensive. Below is a list of acceptable and approximate pricing (during the time that this is being written) for brand spanking new student instruments that work well for both American and Canadian currency.

When do i need to buy a better instrument, and Why?

Sixty years ago, there were no 'student' and 'intermediate' instruments. Manufacturers were just coming to the realization that there was a rising, post-war market that was changing to aid a more commercial type of instrument making. Today, instruments are engineered to obtain to buy three times. First when just beginning, then as an advancing student, and finally as a professional. Clearly, this is a model that makes lots of money for manufacturers.

For the right reasons, I often encourage parents to start with the better instrument, or even a good used intermediate or professional instrument. Starting on better devices are like starting on that slightly larger mouthpiece; receiving a bigger, better sound is encouraging. The better construction and materials blend of these better instruments will even leave more room to develop. So what are the right reasons? Listed here is a list that works not only as guide in order to to choose the right instrument, however for what you should watch for to help you musical growth:

-Going into a school with a strong music program.
-Getting private lessons, or has asked for some. (Check with private teacher for recommendations prior to buying, this will help.)
-Practicing without parental encouragement
-Has at the very least 4 years of playing in front of them.

These factors are fantastic indicators of if they should buy, and whether or not to buy intermediate or professional. If your bulk of these are unclear, consider a rental for a year to determine if they get any clearer, and supplement with regular (weekly) private lessons.

Music can be an investment that requires attention coming from a variety of angles, and also the instrument itself is just a small step. Being armed with the knowledge of how to find the instrument is just portion of a process that a parent can - and should - be actively involved with. Many parents have no idea anything about this, but now you do! Ask the questions you need to know, and you'll be just fine getting the new instrument.