Choosing a Musical Instrument For the Child - A Parents' Guide to Woodwinds

Wale Type beat
Many people find themselves thrown to the world of musical instruments they do know nothing about when their kids first begin music in class. Knowing the basics of good instrument construction, materials, and choosing a good store in order to rent or buy these instruments is extremely important. Just what exactly process should a parent or gaurdian follow to make the best selections for their child?

Wale Style Instrumental
Clearly step one is to choose an instrument. Let your child have their choice. Kids don't make very many big decisions regarding their life, and this is a major one that can be very empowering. I'm also able to say from personal experience that youngsters have a natural intuition about what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is to put a child in to 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 post 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 are really well made these days, and selecting a respected retailer will allow 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 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 very complex, interconnected mechanism that you will find regulated so that the keys all move and seal the holes in the instrument when they are supposed to. Your trusted local retailer is going to be sure to get you a guitar that is 'set up', although many new instruments come good to go out of the box. When you are coping with brand new instrument, you must bring it back to the shop for a check-up after about Three months, or sooner should there be any issues. Because all the materials are new and tight, they will often come out of regulation because instrument is broken in. That is normal. You should rely on this kind of regulation every 12-18 months, or sooner if the instrument is played a lot.

Woodwinds also have pads. Pads include the part of the instrument that seal within the holes in the body from 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 give up, 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' from 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 usually reserved for professionals. The maintenance repair is the most common one for fogeys.

Because of the many rods and key-cups (these retain 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 to the proper way to assemble your instrument. This can be the cause of the most common repairs, then bumping into things.


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

Throughout the Woodwind instruments, wood is indeed employed for the main construction from 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. One of its primary advantages would it be is stronger than brass or silver independently. As you progress to higher instruments more Silver can be used, starting with the headjoint (the most important factor in a quality of sound). More on headjoints later.

Saxophones are generally made from brass. Try to find a device that has 'ribbing' on the body; extra plates of brass that provide structural support over an area where multiple posts attach 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 created from Nickel-Silver, which is a good strategy for strength in a vulnerable area.

Clarinets and Oboes

Clarinet and Oboe bodies are typically made of ABS plastic for student instruments. This is an excellent strategy for bumps, and also 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 towards endangered list). As 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 might cause the wood to expand and crack. Likewise, bringing your instrument to high school on a cold day and playing it without letting it come to room temperature can cause it to crack, or perhaps rupture. This is caused a pressure differential from a warm air column within the instrument, as opposed to the cold temperature outside of the instrument. If you choose to get a wood instrument, make sure your student is prepared and able to look after it properly.

Keys on Clarinets and Oboes are usually made from Nickel-Silver, but can be produced 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, plus Maple (used in professional instruments). A downside for Hard Rubber Bassoons is because are quite heavy. When you can get a good wood Bassoon for any reasonable price, then choose this place. Wood offers the best acoustics for Bassoon, and will make the difference between a noticeable sound, and one that is certainly rich and interesting.

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


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

No matter the instrument, this is the the main whole that makes the greatest impact on the quality of the sound, along with the player's personal physical attributes. Students generally use the things they get from their teacher, but several tips about how to get the most from your equipment. Receiving a good mouthpiece can precede, and also postpone the purchase of a brand new Clarinet or Sax, so great will be the difference with hard rubber.
(For Flute, be sure that your headjoint cork is properly aligned, instead of dried out. Your local retailer will highlight how to do this. In case there are problems, have them fixed immediately, or choose a different flute. For more intermediate flutes, choose a headjoint that is not only made entirely of Silver, but is hand-cut. This may not always be easier to play in the beginning, but the sound quality improvement is definitely worth making the leap. Silver sounds better than Nickel-Silver, producing a better tone quality, with an increase of room for changing the standard according to the player's needs. You can get headjoints separately, but it can be be extremely expensive, and I advise using this until you reach an expert flute.

Oboe and Bassoon use two opposing, slightly curved reeds tied together that vibrate against each other when air passes bewteen barefoot and shoes. Advanced oboists/bassoonists make reeds for their own reasons, a time-consuming, skill-heavy task. It requires many years to learn to make reeds for yourself, that work well. Fortunately, you'll find ready-made reeds that generally meet the needs of the student player. One key factor you should test is always to assure that the reed 'crows' perfectly on the pitch 'C'. Crowing a reed is blowing through it when it is not attached to the instrument. Test the crow having a tuner.

Clarinets and Saxophones utilize a single reed (small bit of very well shaped and profiled cane) associated with a mouthpiece (with a ring called a 'ligature') that vibrates when air is passed between the two. The combination of these parts is the vital thing to a good sound. Most students be given a plastic mouthpiece to begin with. Good plastic mouthpieces are made by Yamaha for both Clarinet and Saxophone, with the designation of '4C'. I recommend a '5C' if it is available. It'll be a little harder to experience at first, but a great way to get a bigger sound correct off the bat. If you'd like to get a better quality of sound with additional room for good loud and soft playing while keeping and introducing a rich tone, then think about Hard Rubber Mouthpiece. Hard rubber provides multiple advances 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. These are generally noticeably more expensive, but you should expect to spend inside the $100-150 range for a decent Hard Rubber mouthpiece. Good names include: Selmer, Vandoren, Otto Link, Meyer, Yamaha, and Leblanc. The local retailer should stock at the very least two of these brands for you to try - and you should try them! Because these are usually hand finished, they can be subtly different.

Think about sizes?

Clarinet and Saxophone mouthpieces have a variety of different sizing areas, but for the sake of simplicity, the key is the 'tip opening'. Tip opening refers to the distance between the tip in the reed and the tip from the mouthpiece. Sadly, there is no standardized system for measuring tip openings, but they are commonly measured in millimetres, or utilizing a numbering system (usually beginning at number 5, trainees sizing), or even letters. The metric method usually consists of two to three numbers; a job opening of 2.97mm might be listed as 297, or as 97, depending 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 normally; C, C*, D, D*, etc.

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

Other considerations

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

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

Avoid cheap instruments. With musical instruments you get what you spend on. There are a lot of instruments received from India and China now. The majority are excellent, while many others should not even have been made. Your local, respected dealer should have those that are reliable, and can stand behind them. Your big-box Costco, Wal-Mart, Greatest coupe, 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 continued assistance, service, or repair that the developing and interested student will be needing. If you choose this route, ask for American, European, or Japanese-made instruments. This will be a major separator of good from bad. Those who make in these places are often very well trained and part of a history of excellent wind instrument making. Any local, trusted retailer will assist you to guide you in the choices available, don't forget that just because it says USA, or Paris about it, does not mean it was manufactured in these places. Functions sometimes making this stuff part of the 'name' of the instrument.((The amount should I spend?

Which is the big question. Be aware 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 (during the time that this is being written) for first time student instruments that actually works for both American and Canadian currency.

Maecenas aliquet accumsan

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos. Etiam dictum tincidunt diam. Aliquam id dolor. Suspendisse sagittis ultrices augue. Maecenas fermentum, sem in pharetra pellentesque, velit turpis volutpat ante, in pharetra metus odio a lectus. Maecenas aliquet
Or visit this link or this one