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

Many people find themselves thrown to the world of musical instruments they know nothing about when their kids first begin music at school. Knowing the basics of fine instrument construction, materials, deciding on a good store in which to rent or purchase a copy instruments is extremely important. Just what exactly process should a mother or father follow to make the best choices for their child?- DJ Battlecat Style Instrumental

Clearly the initial step is to choose a guitar. Let your child have their choice. Kids don't make lots of big decisions with regards to their life, and this is a large one that can be very empowering. I'm also able to say from personal experience that kids have a natural intuition about what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice would be to put a child right into a room to try no more than 3-5 different choices, and permit them to make their choice in line with the sound they like best.

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

Woodwind instruments are produced all over the world, but primarily in america, Germany, France, and China. If we talk about Woodwind instruments, we have been referring to members of the Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Oboe, and Bassoon families.


All Woodwinds involve a fairly complex, interconnected mechanism which needs to be regulated so that the keys all move and seal the holes in the instrument when they are likely to. Your trusted local retailer will be sure to get you a musical instrument that is 'set up', although many new instruments come all set out of the box. When you are getting through a brand new instrument, you should bring it back to the store for a check-up after about 3 months, or sooner in case there are any issues. Because all the materials are new and tight, they might come out of regulation because the instrument is broken in. This really is normal. You should count on this kind of regulation every 12-18 months, or sooner if your instrument is played a lot.

Woodwinds also have pads. Pads include the part of the instrument that seal over the holes in the body in the instrument (toneholes). A perfect seal must produce the correct note. Tuning and audio quality are affected by a correctly 'seated' pad. These also occasionally degrade, as part of your regular maintenance, although hardly ever all at once. When all pads should be replaced (once every 8-10 years), this is done as part of a comprehensive 'overhaul' with the instrument which includes taking everything apart, cleaning it, refitting and tightening loose parts, and replacing springs and corks as necessary. This is the rare procedure, and customarily reserved for professionals. Taking care repair is the most common one for mothers and fathers.

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


Interestingly, not 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, with there being 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 of 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. Among its primary advantages is that it is stronger than brass or silver on their own. As you progress to better instruments more Silver is utilized, starting with the headjoint (which is most important factor in a top quality of sound). More about headjoints later.

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

Clarinets and Oboes

Clarinet and Oboe our body is typically made of Abs plastic, fiberglass for student instruments. This is a good strategy for bumps, but additionally 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 on the endangered list). As they are made of wood they have 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 school on a cold day and playing it without letting it to come to room temperature will cause it to crack, and even rupture. This is caused a pressure differential from your warm air column inside the instrument, in comparison to the cold temperature outside of the instrument. If you decide to get a wood instrument, be certain your student is ready 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 another materials.


Student Bassoons are made from ABS plastic, but there are a few new makers in the market that offer Hard Rubber, and in addition Maple (used in professional instruments). A downside for Hard Rubber Bassoons is they are quite heavy. If you're able to get a good wood Bassoon for any reasonable price, then choose this. Wood offers the best acoustics for Bassoon, and may make the difference between a clear sound, and one that is rich and interesting.

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


While using word 'mouthpiece' for woodwinds may 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 (with a single reed)
Saxophone: Mouthpiece (with 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)

Whatever the instrument, this is the area of the whole that makes the maximum impact on the quality of the sound, in conjunction with the player's personal physical attributes. Students generally use the things 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 in many cases postpone the purchase of a new Clarinet or Sax, so great is the difference with hard rubber.
(For Flute, ensure that your headjoint cork is properly aligned, instead of dried out. Your local retailer will highlight how to do this. If there are problems, have them fixed without delay, or choose a different flute. For additional intermediate flutes, select 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 is definitely worth making the leap. Silver sounds superior to Nickel-Silver, producing a better tone quality, with additional room for changing the quality according to the player's needs. You can get headjoints separately, but it can be quite expensive, and I advise using this until you reach an experienced flute.

Oboe and Bassoon use two opposing, slightly curved reeds tied together that vibrate against the other when air passes bewteen barefoot and shoes. 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 will find ready-made reeds that generally meet the needs of the student player. One important element you should test is to assure that the reed 'crows' perfectly in the pitch 'C'. Crowing a reed is blowing through it when it is not attached to the instrument. Test the crow with a tuner.

Clarinets and Saxophones make use of a single reed (small piece of very well shaped and profiled cane) linked with a mouthpiece (with a 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 be given a plastic mouthpiece to begin. Good plastic mouthpieces are created by Yamaha for both Clarinet and Saxophone, with all the designation of '4C'. I would recommend a '5C' if it is available. It will be a little harder to try out at first, but a great way to get a bigger be the better choice off the bat. If you'd like to get a better quality of sound with an increase of room for good loud and soft playing while keeping and introducing a refreshing tone, then think about Hard Rubber Mouthpiece. Hard rubber provides improvement over plastic acoustically, and must be hand finished, unlike the plastic variety, that's spit out of a mold and polished/tumbled for shine. They are noticeably more expensive, however, you should expect to spend from the $100-150 range for a decent Hard Rubber mouthpiece. Good names include: Selmer, Vandoren, Otto Link, Meyer, Yamaha, and Leblanc. Any local retailer should stock at least two of these brands so that you can try - and you need to try them! Because these are generally hand finished, they are generally subtly different.

Why don't you consider sizes?

Clarinet and Saxophone mouthpieces have a variety of different sizing areas, as well as the sake of simplicity, the key is the 'tip opening'. Tip opening means distance between the tip of the reed and the tip from the mouthpiece. Sadly, there isn't any standardized system for measuring tip openings, although they are commonly measured in millimetres, or by using a numbering system (usually beginning at number 5, each student 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, with respect 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 much the same way as numbers normally; C, C*, D, D*, etc.

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

Other things

Oil and Adjust. This action needs to be conducted on your own student's instrument annually, or even more frequently, if there is a lot of playing. The mechanics in the interconnected parts is delicate, and is released of alignment often.

Bore oiling. Once a year this will be required on Clarinets and Oboes to help you guard against cracking.

Avoid cheap instruments. With musical instruments you get what you spend on. There are a lot of instruments via India and China now. Many are excellent, while many others shouldn't even have been made. Any local, respected dealer needs to have those that are reliable, and will stand behind them. Your big-box Costco, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and e-Bay has no knowledge of these matters, and functions because of their bottom line only. Avoid these places. They won't possibly offer you the continuing assistance, service, or repair that the developing and interested student will be needing. If you choose this route, obtain American, European, or Japanese-made instruments. This really is a major separator of good from bad. Those who make in these places are generally very well trained and a part of a history of excellent wind instrument making. Any local, trusted retailer will help 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 manufactured in these places. Increase which mean sometimes making these products part of the 'name' of the instrument.((Just how much should I spend?

Which is the big question. Know 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 produce, making them more expensive. Below is a list of acceptable and approximate pricing (at the time that this is being written) for brand new student instruments that works well for both American and Canadian currency.

When should I buy a better instrument, and Why?

Sixty years ago, there were no 'student' and 'intermediate' instruments. Manufacturers were just visiting the realization that there was a rising, post-war market that was changing to compliment a more commercial label of instrument making. Today, instruments are engineered to get you to buy three times. First as a beginner, then as an advancing student, lastly as a professional. Clearly, this can be a model that makes a lot of cash for manufacturers.

For the right reasons, I often encourage parents to start with the better instrument, or perhaps 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. Better construction and materials combination of these better instruments will also leave more room to develop. So what are the right reasons? Listed here is a list that works not merely as guide in order to to choose the right instrument, but for what you should watch for to assist musical growth:

-Going to some school with a strong music program.
-Getting private lessons, or has called for some. (Check with private teacher for recommendations before selecting, this will help.)
-Practicing without parental encouragement
-Has at least 4 years of playing before them.

These factors are fantastic indicators of whether to buy, and if you should buy intermediate or professional. In the event the bulk of these are unclear, think about rental for a year to see if they get any clearer, and supplement with regular (weekly) private lessons.

Music is definitely an investment that requires attention from the variety of angles, along with the instrument itself is simply a small step. Being equipped with the knowledge of how to get the instrument is just part of a process that a parent can - and should - be actively associated with. Many parents don't know anything about this, but now you do! Ask the questions you should know, and you'll be just fine having your new instrument.