Choosing the best woodwind instrument is a really tough job, as there are numerous options in the market.
From single reed to double reed to even no reed, there are lots of options for woodwind instruments
There are various instruments that are for classical music and other meant for jazz music or pop music as well.
Some instruments can be played at a very high pitch while others do fairly well with a low pitch. All these things make it look like that choosing a single woodwind instrument is a tedious task. But then, it’s not that hard after all!
If you are a parent who is trying to find out an apt woodwind instrument for his child for the first time, here are a few points that will help you to find out the right woodwind instrument.
Size of the Player
The most important thing that one must take into account while buying the woodwind is the size of the both- player as well the instrument.
Mostly, in the beginning, many players start with alto saxophone, flute, and clarinet. These sizes of instruments are generally considered for students in between 10-12 years of age and therefore you need to understand your child’s requirements.
To cite an example, a kid with tiny hands may find it difficult to completely cover the tone holes of a beginner’s clarinet. This will result in lots of airy sound and squeaks. Whereas the instruments like flute and alto saxophone with covered tone holes will be easier to handle.
Apart from the hand size, one should make sure that the player must be able to hold the instrument comfortably for at least a few minutes along with a correct posture.
Also, a student, who is unable to hold the flute horizontally or keeps the clarinet in rest mode on the chair will not be able to succeed easily and also will fail to improve.
Teeth are important
Students who are willing to learn a woodwind instrument at a minimum age must have front adult teeth.
It will be a setback and a big challenge for a student to play the instrument without having adult teeth. It’s really difficult to form and support the embouchure of all woodwind instrument with baby teeth.
For every brass and wind instrumentalist, it’s not at all possible to play with braces or other orthodontic appliances. At any stage, no person with the braces will be able to play the woodwind instrument.
Even the player may feel discomfort and pain in the mouth. It is advised to take proper guidance from the teacher or use protective measures or orthodontic wax to minimise the same.
Mostly, people first learn the piano and violin and then later they move on to woodwind instruments. To start with these instruments, it’s advisable that the student be able to read before teaching music.
Students in between 10-12 years should start with their respective band training and to match to that quality one needs to have concentration which is a big challenge for the students.
Ideally, players of this age group are doing work and homework without the supervision of parents. So having a quality practice may be a challenging job.
Generally, players, in the beginning, should practice the woodwind instruments for at least 10-20 minutes or more without any supervision.
On the other hand, the difficult woodwind instruments like bassoon, oboe needs a more focused practice that too at the beginning.
Before having a Woodwind Instruments training
If the person isn’t ready to play a woodwind instrument because of some reasons, it does not mean that he/ she is not meant for music.
One must go for learning piano, as it will help in the basics of reading rhythms as well as music. On the other hand, it also helps to develop coordination between the fingers and hands, which is also useful for woodwind players.
The violin also helps in learning the basics of music and also helps to enhance the ability to match pitches.
Woodwind instruments have fingerings for various notes but then the players have to be attentive to match the pitch.
Various Woodwind Instruments
Although you now have a good idea regarding the different types of woodwind instruments as well as its sound and look, check out some more and opt for the right instrument for yourself or your children.
The recorder is one of the easiest and cheapest woodwind instrument to learn. It is a great option for a child who is 10 years old or below.
They are low priced, light and are made of plastic, so it is resistant to humidity. It is also easy to make a sound with a recorder.
Whereas the fingerings on the recorders are similar to that on a clarinet. But the best thing to learn in the recorder is the art of reading music, breathing and keeping time.
It is a common woodwind instrument for beginners. With its small size, it seems easy to play or learn. But the flute needs great breath control and air for the same.
Basically, the flute is played by blowing on the top of the bottle to make a sound for a few seconds.
The flute is light but many times beginners face difficulties to hold it horizontally and reach the right keys. There are some curved head flutes that are relatively easier to manage. A player needs to put in less strength while holding it.
This is another woodwind instrument that is common with the beginners. It requires plenty of air and attention should be paid to the embouchure of beginners clarinet so that you hold the mouthpiece properly.
Even the clarinetists have to keep in mind the reed will cost them extra money. This is something that the flute players need not worry about.
Whereas physically, one needs to find a balanced clarinet that can be held with great posture and accurate bell angle to avoid discomfort and other problems.
To make it fit for the students, it comes with a wide range of bell angles like thumb rests, neck strap as well as lightweight bells.
Although players with small hands may find it difficult to fully seal off the ring keys. For these people, starting with a saxophone or flute will be a better option.
It is considered as the last woodwind instruments for the beginners. There are three types of saxophones- Baritone, tenor and alto. Alto Saxophone is considered better for younger students.
Students learning saxophone face challenges with respect to embouchure. Although it is similar but it has a slightly larger mouthpiece and reed.
Likewise in the case of clarinet, even the alto saxophone needs a reed that must be taken care of and replaced on a regular basis.
This instrument is one of the heaviest woodwind instruments specially for beginners although a neck strap makes it easier to hold this instrument and maintain the right posture.
It is one of the advanced levels of woodwind instruments and is not considered right for beginners.
These are double reed instruments and it uses 2 thin pieces of precisely shaped cane that are blown and vibrated for creating sound.
It is purely based on your skills to learn to form the embouchure and shape the cane of the instrument. This skill cannot easily be grasped by younger students.
The reeds of these instruments are relatively expensive and delicate as compared to the reeds of saxophone and clarinet.
The holding posture of the obes is similar to the clarinets. Whereas the double reed ensures that the angle of the instrument is more important for accurate sound.
The one who fails to hold the instrument will not able to produce a proper sound with the reed.
On the other hand, the bassoon is a large and heavy instrument. Due to their large size, players face a great challenge while holding the instrument. Mostly the players use hand rest and chair strap for the support and maintain the correct posture.
Sometimes woodwind players learn various instruments or many instruments of the same family.
Be it orchestral, Broadway or more, these kinds of doubling are common pieces of music.
Although if you are one of the experienced woodwind players and are planning for expansion, then have a look at some commonly used doubling.
Mostly, flute players know how to combine on piccolo. Both the instruments use the same techniques and fingerings to make it an easy doubling.
English horn and oboe are 2 instruments from the same family and the doubling is very much common for orchestral music.
Generally, saxophonists use to play alto and tenor only. While expanding the same to next level one can also learn baritone or soprano.
With strings and brass, woodwind family consists of instruments of all shape and sizes.
One can easily find the recordings of all these instruments online. Whereas to hear it all live, one can go out to local orchestra concert, musical theaters, jazz club or else talk to some players regarding the same.
Be it the beginner or someone trying to expand their musical journey, woodwind instrument family has something for everyone.