Choosing a Musical Instrument For Your Child – A Parents’ Guide to Woodwinds

Many people find themselves thrown in the world of musical instruments they know nothing about when their young children first begin music at college. Knowing the basics of fine instrument construction, materials, deciding on a good store where you can rent or buy these instruments is extremely important. So what process should a parent follow to make the best ways for their child? – DJ Battlecat Type Instrumental 

Clearly the first step is to choose an instrument. Let your child their very own choice. Kids don’t make lots of big decisions regarding 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 by what is good for them. Ultimately, my strongest advice is usually to put a child right into a room to try a maximum of 3-5 different choices, and allow them make their choice using the sound they like best.

This data is intended to broaden your horizons, to not create a preference, or to put you in a position to nit-pick within 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 best places to shop.

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


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

Woodwinds also have pads. Pads will be the part of the instrument that seal in the holes in the body in the instrument (toneholes). A perfect seal must produce the correct note. Tuning and sound quality 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 have to be replaced (once every 8-10 years), this is achieved 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 generally reserved for professionals. Taking care repair is the most common one for moms and dads.

Because of the many rods and key-cups (these hold the pads), there are a lot of very sensitive, very easy to bend parts of these instruments. Knowing how to assemble them properly is very important to avoiding unwanted repair costs. 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, accompanied by bumping into things.


Interestingly, don’t assume all woodwinds are made from wood. Flutes and saxophones are produced primarily of metals; Nickel-silver and silver for Flutes, and customarily Brass for Saxophones. We’ll stick to 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 indeed employed for the main construction of the instruments.

Flutes & Saxophones

Student Flutes are made from 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. One among its primary advantages is that it is stronger than brass or silver automatically. As you progress to better instruments more Silver is used, starting with the headjoint (which is most important factor in a good quality of sound). 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 a location where multiple posts affix to the body. This provides strength for your occasional and unavoidable bumps that your young students are bound to have. Some student Saxes have keywork made from Nickel-Silver, which is a good technique for strength in a vulnerable area.

Clarinets and Oboes

Clarinet and Oboe bodies are typically made of ABS plastic for student instruments. This is a great strategy for bumps, and also against the maintenance habits and climate changes that students face. Intermediate and professional instruments are made from Grenadilla wood (which is changing as Grenadilla edges for the endangered list). Because they’re made of wood they should be protected against cracking. If your student doesn’t swab their instrument out after playing, the moisture could cause the wood to be expanded and crack. Likewise, bringing your instrument to college on a cold day and playing it without letting it to come to room temperature may cause it to crack, and even rupture. This is caused a pressure differential from a 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 sure your student 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, and other materials.


Student Bassoons are made from ABS plastic, but there are some new makers out there that offer Hard Rubber, plus Maple (used in professional instruments). A downside for Hard Rubber Bassoons is because are quite heavy. If you possibly could get a good wood Bassoon for any reasonable price, then choose that one. Wood offers the best acoustics for Bassoon, which enable it to make the difference between a clear sound, and one that is certainly rich and interesting. – DJ Battlecat Type Instrumental 

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


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

Whatever the instrument, this is the section of the whole that makes the best impact on the quality of the sound, in conjunction with the player’s personal physical attributes. Students generally use what you get from their teacher, but several 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 brand new Clarinet or Sax, so great may be the difference with hard rubber.
(For Flute, ensure that your headjoint cork is properly aligned, rather than dried out. Your local retailer will disclose how to do this. In case there are problems, have them fixed straight 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 would possibly not always be easier to play in the beginning, but the sound quality improvement will be worth making the leap. Silver sounds much better than Nickel-Silver, producing a better tone quality, with additional room for changing the high quality according to the player’s needs. You can purchase headjoints separately, but it can be be extremely expensive, and I advise from this until you reach a specialist flute.

Oboe and Bassoon use two opposing, slightly curved reeds tied together that vibrate against each other when air passes together. Advanced oboists/bassoonists make reeds by themselves, a time-consuming, skill-heavy task. It will take many years to learn to produce reeds for yourself, that work well. Fortunately, you will find ready-made reeds that generally meet the requirements of the student player. One important element you should test is always to assure that the reed ‘crows’ perfectly in the pitch ‘C’. Crowing a reed is blowing through it if 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 between the two. The combination of these parts is essential to a good sound. Most students get a plastic mouthpiece to begin with. Good plastic mouthpieces are made by Yamaha for both Clarinet and Saxophone, with all the designation of ‘4C’. I would recommend a ‘5C’ if it is available. It will likely be a little harder to try out at first, but a good way to get a bigger sound correct off the bat. If you need to get a better quality of sound with additional room for good loud and soft playing and keep and introducing a refreshing tone, then look at a Hard Rubber Mouthpiece. Hard rubber surpasses plastic acoustically, and must be hand finished, unlike the plastic variety, that’s spit out of a mold and polished/tumbled for shine. These 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. Any local retailer should stock at least two of these brands for you to try – and you should try them! Because these are typically hand finished, they are often subtly different.

What about sizes?

Clarinet and Saxophone mouthpieces have a wide range of different sizing areas, and also for the sake of simplicity, the most crucial is the ‘tip opening’. Tip opening refers to the distance between the tip in the reed and the tip of the mouthpiece. Sadly, there’s no standardized system for measuring tip openings, although 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 includes two to three numbers; a gap of 2.97mm might be listed as 297, or as 97, depending on the maker. The numbering system could be listed as 5, 5*, 6, 6*, 7, etc. The ‘star’ numbers should be considered half-sizes. Letters work exactly the same way as numbers generally speaking; C, C*, D, D*, etc.

To present your student a leg up, 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 low and high, will likely suffer, but this is only temporary because you adjust to the new mouthpiece and develop greater strength.


Oil and Adjust. This action needs to be conducted in your student’s instrument annually, or maybe more frequently, if there is lots 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 help guard against cracking.

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

Which is the big question. Remember that popular instruments, like Flute and Clarinet, are 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. Below is a list of acceptable and approximate pricing (at that time that this is being written) for new student instruments that works well for both American and Canadian currency.

When do i need to buy a better instrument, and Why?

Sixty years ago, there were no ‘student’ and ‘intermediate’ instruments. Manufacturers were just arriving at the realization that there was a rising, post-war market that was changing to guide a more commercial label of instrument making. Today, instruments are engineered to help you get to buy three times. First when getting started, then as an advancing student, last but not least as a professional. Clearly, this can be a model that makes big money for manufacturers.

For the ideal reasons, I often encourage parents in the first place the better instrument, or maybe a good used intermediate or professional instrument. Starting on better equipment is like starting with that slightly larger mouthpiece; obtaining a bigger, better sound is encouraging. The better construction and materials mix of these better instruments will also leave more room growing. So what are the right reasons? Listed here is a list that works not simply as guide for helping to choose the right instrument, nevertheless for what you should watch for to help you musical growth:

-Going to some school with a strong music program.
-Getting private lessons, or has wanted some. (Check with private teacher for recommendations before buying, this will help.)
-Practicing without parental encouragement
-Has no less than 4 years of playing ahead of them.

These factors are fantastic indicators of if they should buy, and if you should buy intermediate or professional. In the event 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, as well as the instrument itself is only a small step. Being armed with the knowledge of how to find the instrument is just section of a process that a parent can – and should – be actively involved with. Many parents don’t know anything about doing this, but now you do! Ask the questions you should know, and you’ll be just fine getting the new instrument.

Choosing a Musical Instrument For Your Child – A Parents’ Guide to Woodwinds

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