Baritone (grade 6-8) / Euphonium (grade 9-12)

The baritone is a member of the brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by buzzing the lips into a mouthpiece. The baritone works in the same manner as a trumpet but it’s twice the length. It plays the exact same notes as a trombone and even uses the same mouthpiece. The biggest difference is that the baritone uses valves rather than a slide to change the length of the air flow. The baritone is relatively easy to learn for beginners. The deep beautiful tone from a baritone is attractive to many students who like the sound of a lower voice. Good baritone players are considered very valuable assets by band teachers since there are so few of them.

Another version of the baritone is called the Euphonium. Euphoniums are played exactly like a baritone, but the tubing of the euphonium is more cone shaped or "conical" than the baritone. Euphoniums tend to be more expensive than baritones and most have a fourth valve to allow use of advanced alternate fingerings.


Bassoon (grade 7-12)

The bassoon is a double reed instrument and member of the woodwind family.  It has unique, low sound that functions as the blending voice between the sound of the brass instruments and the bright woodwind sounds.  The bassoon has 7 feet 4.5 inches of tubing and is 4 feet 3.5 inches long when fully assembled.  It is often made of either rosewood or ebonite.

Sound is produced by the player drawing the lips between the teeth into the mouth.  The double reed must be held in the mouth firmly enough to allow for blowing, but also gently enough for the reeds to be allowed to vibrate. The player then focuses the air through the reed at high pressure. The reeds vibrate against each other. This sets the air in the column in motion.


Clarinet (grade 6-12)

The clarinet is a member of the woodwind family. Sound is produced by a vibrating single reed which is the same sound producing method as the saxophone. Beginning clarinets are made of plastic and professional clarinets are made of wood. The clarinet is 2 feet 2.25 inches long. It is in the key of B flat. The bass clarinet is 4 feet 6.25 inches long. It is one octave below the clarinet. Both have a cylindrical bore and are made of grenadilla wood or African blackwood.

The clarinet is a widely used and very versatile instrument. This is from the three very distinctive ranges it can produce. The lowest register is rich and hollow in sound. The middle register is smooth sounding. The upper register sounds thin and shrill. The bass clarinet has the similar versatility in lower registers. Clarinets play a critical role in bands, symphony orchestras and small instrumental groups.


Contrabass Clarinet (grade 9-12)

The contrabass clarinet is one of the largest members of the clarinet family. The instrument is pitched in Bb, sounding two octaves lower than the common Bb soprano clarinet and one octave lower than the Bb bass clarinet. Unlike other clarinets, the contrabass clarinet is usually built with only a single trill key used by the right hand instead of four of them. The single key functions the same as the lowest trill key in other clarinets. Both the Eb and the Bb contra are most commonly found in bands, wind ensembles, and clarinet choirs. Less often, one encounters them in orchestral music, and pit orchestras.


Flute (grade 6-12)

The flute is a member of the woodwind family even though it is made of metal and doesn’t use a reed to create the sound. In order to produce a tone on the flute, the player blows across the tone hole of the mouthpiece, allowing the air to split at the far edge of the hole. Flutes generally play notes in the high register. The piccolo is one octave higher than the flute and is the smallest instrument in the orchestra. A flautist has the opportunity to perform in bands, symphony orchestras, some jazz groups and small instrumental groups.


Double French Horn (grade 6-12)

The French horn, sometimes called just "horn", is a member of the brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by buzzing the lips into a mouthpiece. The French horn can be a great beginning instrument for someone with some musical background and the ability to match pitches correctly. Originally, the single French horn was used until advances in the development of the instrument allowed for the addition of more tubing.  The thumb trigger and extra set of tubes makes the double French horn much easier to play than its historical predecessor.  Good French horn players are desperately needed in ensembles at every level. The French horn is popular in bands, symphony orchestras and small instrumental groups. The instrument is also popular among Hollywood composers since a lot of movie music features the dramatic sound of the French horn.


Oboe (grade7-12) / English Horn (grade 9-12)

The oboe and English horn are double reed instruments and members of the woodwind family. The oboe is 1 foot 11.5 inches long, not including the reed. It is made with a conical bore that is larger towards the end. The English horn is 2 feet 7.5 inches long, not including the short metal tube to which the reed is attached. They are often made of ebonite. The English horn has a lower, richer sound than the oboe.

Sound is produced by the player drawing the lips between the teeth into the mouth. The player then focuses the air through the reed at high pressure. The reeds vibrate against each other. This sets the air in the column in motion. A double reed is two very thin reeds uniting to form a tubular aperture at one end. The other end is splayed out and flattened. The notes are produced by changing the length of the sound column. This is accomplished through the use of keys. An open key permits air to escape the column. A depressed key causes the air to continue through the instrument. This lengthens the air column.

The oboe has been a favorite among composers for the last 300 years. The appeal is the reedy sound which is good for staccato melodies. The English horn is used for lower sounds.


Percussion (grade 7-12)

Anyone interested in becoming a percussionist must learn to play every instrument in the percussion family. Beginning percussionists will spend 50% of their rehearsals learning how to play the mallet instruments (xylophone, marimba, and bells), and 50% of their time learning how to play drums (primarily snare drum and bass drum).

• The term ‘mallets’ is used to refer to all the keyboard instruments in the percussion family.  Bells are made of metal; xylophones and marimbas can be made from either kelon or rosewood. Sound is created by striking individual bars with mallets of various kinds. Depending on the desired tone quality, mallets may be hard or soft, made of materials such as metal, plastic, fiberglass, rubber, and in some cases may be covered in yarn. The bars of the instruments are configured like a piano keyboard and may have the names of the notes printed on each bar for the first year.  Mallet music often plays the melody of a song, and is written in the treble clef.

• Beginning percussionists will use ‘matched grip’ when playing the snare drum.  The objectives in class will address reading rhythms from percussion clef, correct stick height, and the Percussive Arts Society’s basic snare drum rudiments.  Students will practice these skills on practice pads most of the time, but school-owned drums and equipment will be used as performance time approaches. 

Instruction will also include techniques used for playing the bass drum, crash cymbals, timpani, and auxiliary percussion instruments frequently found in concert band literature.  Each student will perform some drum parts and some mallet parts during each of the band concerts.  All percussionists will be expected to take turns learning each type of percussion instrument.

Drum set is NOT a part of concert band curriculum.  Students interested in playing drum set should seek instruction outside of school.


Saxophone (grade 6-12)

The saxophone is a member of the woodwind family even though it is made almost entirely of metal. The sound is produced by a vibrating single reed which is the same sound producing method as a clarinet. Many beginning students may not have hands large enough to fit around the saxophone keys. The most popular and best beginning instrument is the Eb alto saxophone. The Bb tenor saxophone plays lower than the alto saxophone and the Eb baritone saxophone plays even lower than the tenor.  Opportunities to play both the tenor and baritone saxophones are typically first offered at the middle school and continue through the high school band program. The saxophone is a very widely used instrument. They play a critical role in bands, jazz groups and small instrumental groups.


Trumpet (grade 6-12)

The trumpet is the smallest and highest member of the brass family. The modern trumpet has 4 feet 7 inches of tubing wrapped into the compact shape. It has a three valves and a cylindrical bore.The trumpet is used in the orchestra because of its diversity. It has both a piercing, brassy sound and a soft, muted sound. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by buzzing the lips into a mouthpiece. The trumpet is the recommended choice for a beginner. Trumpets are always needed in bands, symphony orchestras, jazz groups and small instrumental groups. It is very common for the trumpet to perform a large number of solos and melodic lines in all of these groups.


Trombone (grade 6-12)

The trombone is a member of the brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by buzzing the lips into a mouthpiece. A unique feature of the trombone is the slide. While other brass instrument change pitches by pressing valves to change the length of the air flow, the trombone player simply moves the slide in and out to the change the length of the instrument. Students who play the trombone should have a good ear and be able to sing in tune. Students who have an ability to match pitches will know when the slide is slightly too far in or out. But other than that, it’s a relatively easy instrument to start with.

Good trombone players are considered very valuable assets by band teachers since there are so few of them.
The trombone is considered one of the most widely used instruments. We can hear trombones in bands, symphony orchestras, jazz groups, brass quintets and as solo instruments.


Tuba (grade 7-12)

The tuba, or bass tuba, has 13 feet 9 inches of tubing wrapped in the body. It has three valves and has a wide conical bore and a flared bell. It is usually played standing upright. It can also be played with the bell facing forward for recordings.

The tuba is the bass instrument of the brass. It is used in the orchestra to reinforce the harmony. It produces a full, rich and powerful tone. Sound is produced by the player holding his lips tightly against a specially shaped mouthpiece. The lips vibrate when air is forced through them which sets the air column in motion. The brass tube acts as a resonator. The notes are produced by changing the length of the tube which is accomplished through the use of valves. A valve at rest has air passing directly through it. A depressed valve causes the air to divert through extra tubing which lengthens the air column.