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School Band Instruments: The Different Types Explained

By Sydney Henry
September 25, 2020
school band instruments different types explained



We all know that school band instruments have incredible developmental benefits for children, but what about adults? 

According to research, playing a musical instrument can positively change your brain structure and function. This includes becoming more mentally alert, faster reaction time, increases blood flow to your brain and improving your mood.

School band instruments are no longer just for school kids these days, as adult music lessons have become more and more common.

The only problem is, there is a long list of band instruments to choose from, so knowing which one to play can be a difficult choice.

Thankfully, we've created this detailed list explaining all the different school band instruments so that you can play your heart out, and reap all the benefits too!

Keep on reading to learn more about school band instruments, and how to choose the right one for you! 



Woodwind School Band Instruments

Woodwind instruments are a classification of common school band instruments that require the musician to blow air across or into the mouthpiece. Back in the day, all of these instruments were made out of wood, which is where the term "woodwind" came from.

There are numerous different types of woodwind instruments, and each one has a unique benefit to playing them. We will cover the woodwind instruments from the highest pitch to the lowest.



Flutes are the oldest out of all the school band instruments, dating back to over 35,000 years ago when they were made out of animal bones or wood. Nowadays, flutes are usually made out of silver, gold, and platinum and can be played by holding the instrument sideways while blowing across the mouthpiece. 


Clarinets belong to the single-reed family of woodwind instruments, which means that they require a single reed to play them properly. Clarinets can play both melodies and harmonies and have a very distinct and rich sound. The clarinet is played by holding the instrument upright and blowing into the mouthpiece.


An oboe looks similar to the clarinet, with a bit of a lower sound than a flute. They are double-reed instruments, which means that they are played by blowing through two small reeds that vibrate together as it is played.

Oboes are most commonly played in orchestras, as they are usually featured in solo pieces because of their haunting and distinct sound. 


The saxophone is another single-reed woodwind instrument that has grown in popularity over the last 150 years. Saxophones are known for their distinct sound in jazz and blues music, and also can be played in classical music as well. The saxophone is played like a clarinet, holding the instrument upright and to the side while blowing into the mouthpiece. 



Brass School Band Instruments

Brass instruments do not require a reed, nor is the air blown past the mouthpiece like a flute. Instead, the sound comes from the musician's lips which vibrate with the mouthpiece as the air moves through the long, brass tubes.


The trumpet is the oldest of the brass instruments and can be dated back to 1500BC during the times of ancient Egypt. The trumpet is the highest-pitched instrument of the brass family and gets it sound by blowing into the cup-shaped mouthpiece while playing the three valves.  


While the trombone may look more difficult, it is easier to play than the trumpet at first because the mouthpiece is much bigger. Once you can fine-tune your ear, you will be able to decipher the slide's positioning by moving it in and out of position while blowing into the mouthpiece. 

French Horn

Contrary to the name, the French Horn originated in Germany. The French Horn is known for being one of the most difficult instruments to play, as it is easy to make the note sound flat or crack the sound. French Horn musicians are respected amongst the music industry because of the difficulty of their instrument. 


The tuba has a very low, distinct sound and is known for being an essential component of any orchestra. Many children find the tuba to be one of the hardest school band instruments because of its size and difficulty to carry to and from school. The tuba is played by blowing into the mouthpiece while holding the instrument upright on the lap and playing the three valves.



Strings Instruments

Strings instruments, also known as chordophones, make beautiful sounds when the strings vibrate as the musician moves them by either by drawing a "bow" across them or plucking them with a finger. 


The violin is one of the most common strings instruments, and one of the hardest to play as the strings are very close together. The instrument is played by holding it in between the jaw and the collarbone while drawing a bow across them in a particular manner.


The cello may seem harder to play than the violin because of its size, however, it is much easier to play because of the natural positioning while you are playing it. The cello has a very distinct sound that can be played in every part of the orchestra, including harmony, melody, and bassline.

The cello is played by balancing it on the endpin while holding it upright and to the left of your head. It should be about the same height as your ear while holding it between your knees. 


Learn More Common School Band Instruments

There you have it, the most common school band instruments to choose from so that you can reap the benefits of playing music while expanding your mind and learn something new.

If you are ready to start playing a new instrument today, check out our lessons available for many of the popular school band instruments. Classes are offered on a short-term or long-term basis, and there are many different teachers with different teaching styles to choose from. 

About Author
Sydney Henry

Sydney Henry is the marketing specialist at Bailey Brothers Music Company. In her spare time, she can often be found with coffee, a book, and her three cats.


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