Beginning Band Instrument Prerequisites

Instrument Prerequisites

  • Why are there prerequisites for some instruments in Beginning Band?

    Our philosophy as D38 band teachers is to ensure a child’s experience in band lasts beyond 6th grade by setting them up for success. The instruments that have prerequisites come with unique challenges for students to get started, feel successful, and want to continue past 6th grade.

    In band, the success of the individual relies on the success of the group and vice versa. Band is an academic team and these prerequisites are designed to ensure the success of both the individual and the team.

    LPSD's instrument prerequisites were developed through decades of professional conversations and observations of other districts' programs. Our prerequisites are not uncommon across the country and are considered best practice. They are revisited every year to ensure that they are in the best interest of our students. The goal of beginning band is to ensure every child experiences success - these prerequisites support student musicians in this success.

    Clarinet Before Saxophone

    Saxophone is an instrument where improper habits are easily hidden but can still produce a feeling of success. These habits often catch up to the student in 7th grade where, instead of feeling accomplished, the student begins to become frustrated and quits band. Many successful saxophone students from Lewis-Palmer developed their excellent habits on clarinet. Saxophone is also a great second instrument where many flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon players have easily picked it up for jazz band.

    The saxophone experiences a "pop culture" advantage of student desire to play it over other instruments because of the commercial promotion it receives. Schools that mistakenly start saxophone in beginning band experience an imbalance of too many saxophone players and not enough other instruments. This severely limits what the entire group can do, as well as limits the advancement opportunities for the individual.

    Private Lessons for Double Reed Instruments:  Oboe and Bassoon

    Due to their reeds, fingerings, and intonation, double reed instruments require more attention than can be given in group instruction. Private lessons with a quality teacher ensure a successful experience with these amazing instruments and greatly reduces the frustration that accompanies them. 

    French Horn

    All Brass instruments present beginners with the difficulty that multiple notes can be played with the same fingering or slide position.  The French Horn greatly multiplies this effect, as the notes are much closer together.  Lessons are a very helpful support to beginners navigating this glorious but difficult instrument.

    Two Years of Piano Instruction with a Lesson Teacher for Percussion

    There is a misconception that playing "percussion" in beginning band means playing drums and/or drumset. However, most percussion work at this level is on keyboard or "mallet" instruments. Also, percussionists do not learn just a single instrument - they learn techniques for every instrument in the percussion section. The workload of percussion students is much more than that of other instruments. The rhythmic foundation, note-reading, and musical background of piano instruction supports a child’s successful experience on percussion. A lack of piano experience on percussion is the leading cause of frustration and attrition in beginning band.