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Choosing a Musical Instrument For Your Child - A Parents' Help guide Woodwinds

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Many people find themselves thrown in to the world of musical instruments they do know nothing about when their young children first begin music in school. Knowing the basics of proper instrument construction, materials, and choosing a good store where you can rent or buy these instruments is extremely important. Just what exactly process should a dad or mom follow to make the best selections for their child? - DJ Battlecat type beat 2015

Clearly the first step is to choose a musical instrument. Let your child have their choice. Kids don't make the greatest big decisions with regards to their life, and this is a major one that can be very empowering. I'm also able to say from personal experience that kids have a natural intuition as to what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is always to put a child in a room to try at most 3-5 different choices, and let them make their choice in line with the sound they like best.

This data is intended to broaden your horizons, never to create a preference, or to put you in a position to nit-pick in the store! Most instruments can be extremely well made these days, picking a respected retailer will allow you to trust recommendations. Ask your school and/or private music teacher where you can shop.

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


All Woodwinds involve a fairly complex, interconnected mechanism that has to be regulated so that the keys all move and seal the holes from the instrument when they are supposed to. Your trusted local retailer will likely be sure to get you a musical instrument that is 'set up', although many new instruments come good to go out of the box. When you are getting through a brand new instrument, you ought to bring it back to the store for a check-up after about Three months, or sooner in case there are any issues. Because every one of the materials are new and tight, they could come out of regulation because the instrument is broken in. That is normal. You should rely on this kind of regulation every 12-18 months, or sooner when the instrument is played a great deal.

Woodwinds also have pads. Pads are the part of the instrument that seal on the holes in the body in the instrument (toneholes). A perfect seal is necessary to produce the correct note. Tuning and quality of sound are affected by a correctly 'seated' pad. These also occasionally break, as part of your regular maintenance, although almost never all at once. When all pads should be replaced (once every 8-10 years), this can be done as part of a comprehensive 'overhaul' of the instrument which includes taking all this apart, cleaning it, refitting and tightening loose parts, and replacing springs and corks as necessary. This is a rare procedure, and customarily reserved for professionals. The constant maintenance repair is the most common one for moms and dads.

Because of the many rods and key-cups (these retain the pads), there are a lot of very sensitive, very easy to bend parts of these instruments. Finding out how to assemble them properly is very important 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, followed by bumping into things.


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

For the remainder of the Woodwind instruments, wood is indeed employed for the main construction of the instruments.

Flutes & Saxophones

Student Flutes are made of Nickel-Silver, then plated in silver. Nickel-Silver is a combination of brass with Nickel, which has a similar look to Silver when polished, hence its name. Among its primary advantages is that it is stronger than brass or silver on their own. As you progress to better instruments more Silver can be used, starting with the headjoint (the actual most important factor in a high 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 affix to the body. This provides strength for that occasional and unavoidable bumps your young students are bound to have. Some student Saxes have keywork made from Nickel-Silver, which is a good strategy for strength in a vulnerable area.

Clarinets and Oboes

Clarinet and Oboe our body is typically made of Abs plastic, fiberglass for student instruments. A great strategy for bumps, but also against the maintenance habits and climate changes that students face. Intermediate and professional instruments are constructed with Grenadilla wood (which is changing as Grenadilla edges for the endangered list). Since they're made of wood they ought to be protected against cracking. In case a student doesn't swab their instrument out after playing, the moisture may cause the wood to grow and crack. Likewise, bringing your instrument to college on a cold day and playing it without and can come to room temperature can cause it to crack, or even rupture. This is caused a pressure differential out of your warm air column within the instrument, as opposed to the cold temperature outside of the instrument. If you opt to get a wood instrument, make certain your student ready and able to look after it properly.

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


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

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


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

No matter the instrument, this is the the main whole that makes the best impact on the quality of the sound, in combination with the player's personal physical attributes. Students generally use whatever they get from their teacher, but below are some tips about how to get the most from your equipment. Receiving a good mouthpiece can precede, and even postpone the purchase of a fresh Clarinet or Sax, so great may be the difference with hard rubber.
(For Flute, ensure that your headjoint cork is properly aligned, and never dried out. Your local retailer will disclose how to do this. If there are problems, have them fixed right away, or choose a different flute. For further intermediate flutes, go with a headjoint that is not only made entirely of Silver, but is hand-cut. This may not always be easier to play to start with, 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 high quality according to the player's needs. You can purchase headjoints separately, but it can be quite expensive, and I advise against this until you reach an expert flute.

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

Clarinets and Saxophones utilize a single reed (small bit of very well shaped and profiled cane) linked with a mouthpiece (by the ring called a 'ligature') that vibrates when air is passed backward and forward. The combination of these parts is the vital thing to a good sound. Most students get a plastic mouthpiece to begin with. Good plastic mouthpieces are produced by Yamaha for both Clarinet and Saxophone, with the designation of '4C'. I would recommend a '5C' if it is available. It's going to be a little harder to play at first, but a great way to get a bigger sound right off the bat. If you want to get a better quality of sound with additional room for good loud and soft playing and and introducing a rich tone, then look at a Hard Rubber Mouthpiece. Hard rubber provides improvement over plastic acoustically, and must be hand finished, unlike the plastic variety, which can be spit out of a mold and polished/tumbled for shine. They 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 so that you can try - and you should try them! Because these are normally hand finished, they are generally subtly different.

How about sizes?

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

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

Other things

Oil and Adjust. This process needs to be conducted on your own student's instrument annually, or higher frequently, if there is plenty of playing. The mechanics in the interconnected parts is delicate, and happens of alignment often.

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

Avoid cheap instruments. With musical instruments you get what you purchase. There are a lot of instruments coming from India and China now. Lots of people are excellent, while many others shouldn't even have been made. The local, respected dealer needs to have those that are reliable, and can stand behind them. Your big-box Costco, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and e-Bay has no comprehension of these matters, and functions because of their bottom line only. Avoid these places. They can not possibly offer you the continued assistance, service, or repair that the developing and interested student need. If you choose this route, request American, European, or Japanese-made instruments. This really is a major separator of good from bad. People who make in these places are likely to be very well trained and portion of a history of excellent wind instrument making. Your neighborhood, trusted retailer will assist to guide you in the choices available, and don't forget that just because it says USA, or Paris on it, does not mean it was produced in these places. Increase which mean sometimes making these products part of the 'name' of the instrument.((The amount should I spend?

This is the big question. Bear in mind that popular instruments, like Flute and Clarinet, be cheaper because they are made in greater quantities. Some instruments, like Oboe and Bassoon, are challenging and time-consuming to generate, making them more expensive. Here's a list of acceptable and approximate pricing (during the time that this is being written) for first time student instruments that work well for both American and Canadian currency.

When should I buy a better instrument, and Why?

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

For the right reasons, I often encourage parents first of all the better instrument, or perhaps a good used intermediate or professional instrument. Starting on better products are like starting with that slightly larger mouthpiece; receiving a bigger, better sound is encouraging. Better construction and materials blend of these better instruments may also leave more room growing. So what are the right reasons? Here is a list that works not just as guide for helping 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 before buying, this will help.)
-Practicing without parental encouragement
-Has at least 4 years of playing before them.

These factors are fantastic indicators of if they should buy, and if you should buy intermediate or professional. If the bulk of these are unclear, look at a rental for a year to ascertain if they get any clearer, and supplement with regular (weekly) private lessons.

Music is definitely an investment that requires attention from a variety of angles, and the instrument itself is simply a small step. Being equipped with the knowledge of how to have the instrument is just a part of a process that a parent can - and should - be actively linked to. Many parents have no idea of anything about all this, but now you do! Ask the questions you should know, and you'll be just fine taking your new instrument. - DJ Battlecat type beat 2015


Posted Nov 13, 2015 at 11:07pm