Instrument Information

THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

 We have many different instruments in the band program. Each new student tries every instrument after a little bit of basic instruction and is evaluated on their ability to produce sound.  If a student gets a good sound immediately, that instrument would be a great choice.  If they get a good sound with a little bit of extra instruction or after multiple tries then there is a good likelyhood that they will succeed on that instrument.  Students who struggle to produce sound, will have more difficulty and should possibly pick a different instrument.  We help students try to determine the best fit (which is not always their first choice).  We make suggestions but the ultimate choice of what instrument the student plays is up to them. We highly encourage parents to leave the decision to the student. Sometimes parents try to dictate which instrument the student will play but the student is the one who has to play it so they need to be happy with their choice.

Click here for a video demonstration of all of the band instruments for students by the United States Army Field Band!

WOODWIND INSTRUMENTS 

 The Woodwind instrument family is named that because most are made of wood and played with wind (the player blowing air into them). While most modern flutes are made of metal, they were originally wooden and some very expensive professional instruments are still made of wood. Saxophones, while being made of brass are designed using the same type of mouthpiece and reed as the wooden clarinet as well as a similar fingering mechanism. Click on an instrument name below to see a photo and read more information.

Flute                      Oboe                     Clarinet                Saxophone         Bassoon

 

BRASS INSTRUMENTS 

 Brass instruments (short for Brasswinds) are made of brass and are all extremely similar in how their sound is produced.  They all have a cup shaped mouthpiece that the player "buzzes" into.  This is like letting air out of a balloon. The moving air forces the balloon to make a sound or the lips of the brass player to vibrate. The player controls the tension of the lips which helps control what notes they play. Brass mouthpieces range in size from the small Trumpet and French Horn to the larger Trombone and Euphonium mouthpieces and the largest Tuba mouthpieces.  Click on an instrument name below to see a photo, read more information and hear some recordings.

Trumpet           French Horn       Trombone           Euphonium         Tuba

 

 

PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS 

Put simply, Percussion instruments are any instrument that is hit or struck to make sound.  This ranges from keyboard percussion instruments played wth mallets such as the xylophone and marimba to concert drums such as snare drum, bass drum and timpani. It also includes small accessory instruments and noisemakers. Click on the name of a percussion instrument family below to find more information, see photos and hear recordings of the instruments.

Mallet Percussion    Concert Drums     Cymbals    Accessories   World Percussion   Drum Set    Marching Percussion    

 

 BRASS

 Trumpet

The Trumpet is the smallest and highest pitched member of the brass instrument family. There are many different types of trumpets. It is used in many types of music including concert and jazz bands, marching bands, orchestras and even occasionally in rock bands.  Like all brass instruments, its sound is produced by the player “buzzing” their lips into the mouthpiece.  They are always made out of brass but may be covered with a clear lacquer or can be silver plated. Other related instruments that trumpet players often play include the Cornet and the Flugelhorn.

Suggested YouTube Videos

 

Fantasie Brillante by J.B. Arban performed by Wynton Marsalis

Star Wars: Main Title played on Trumpet and Bass Trumpet!

Lincoln by John Williams performed by Chris Martin (jump to :51 seconds)

Toccata and Fugue in d Minor by J.S. Bach performed by the Oklahoma State University Trumpet Ensemble

Stars and Stripes Forever  by J.P. Sousa performed by the United States Army Band Trumpet Ensemble

United States Army Field Band Trumpet Lessons- A GREAT resource for how to start playing trumpet!

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 French Horn

One of the most common brass instruments to hear in movie and television music, the French Horn (often just referred to as the Horn) is actually a German instrument (confusing right?). The French Horn is used in concert bands, orchestras and in parade marching bands (in high school and college field shows, horn players play an instrument called a Mellophone). The French Horn mouthpiece is similar in size to a trumpet mouthpiece and many of Redwood’s horn players are converted trumpet players.  Sound is produced just like all brass instruments by "buzzing" the lips. Beginners start on what is called a “single horn” which has 3 valves just like the trumpet.  As students progress, they will usually move to a “double horn” which is roughly the same sized but with a second set of tubing and 4th valve or “thumb trigger” that makes many things easier to play (although the instrument is heavier). A very unique type of horn is called the Vienna Horn and is mostly used by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. A very rare instrument that professional players will also play is the Wagner Tuba (which actually isn't a Tuba but a kind of Bass French Horn)

Suggested YouTube Videos

How It's Made episode from The Science Channel showing how French Horns are made

The Asteroid Field from Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back by John Williams played as a multitrack recording of multiple French Horn parts

Theme from Independence Day by John Williams performed by the Vienna Horns

Jurassic Park Theme by John Williams performed by the Vienna Horns

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen performed by the London Horn Sound (8 French Horns, 8 Wagner Tubas, Piano, Bass and Drums!)

Horn Concerto No. 1 in D Major by W.A. Mozart performed by Radek Baborák

United States Army Field Band Horn Video

 

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 Trombone

The Trombone is a low brass instrument pitched one octave lower than the Trumpet. The most common Trombone is the slide Trombone which has the unique slide that is used in place of valves (along with the player’s lips buzzing) to change notes. The mouthpiece is the same shape as a trumpet mouthpiece but larger which allows the instrument to play lower.  The player "buzzes" into the mouthpiece to make sound just like on all other brass instruments. The most common size is the Tenor Trombone and it is used in concert and jazz bands, marching bands and orchestras. It can even be heard as the voice of the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons! Most students start on a "straight tenor trombone"pictured above on the left.The trombone pictured to the right with the extra tubing on the back has what is known as an “F-attachment”. It is slightly heavier but allows for some easier alternate slide positions and make some lower notes available.  Redwood owns three of these that are used mostly for our top players in the Symphonic Band. The Bass Trombone is also used in bands and orchestras but being larger and heavier, it isn’t used in middle school. There are even Soprano TrombonesAlto Trombones, Contrabass TrombonesValve Trombones and the extremely rare Superbone! While students occasionally learn trombone in elementary band, most of Redwood’s trombone players either start in our beginning band or switch to Trombone from another instrument in intermediate band. 

Suggested YouTube Videos

How It's Made episode from The Science Channel showing how Trombones are made

Game of Thrones Theme by Ramin Djawadi performed by New York area low brass (6 tenor trombones, 11 Bass Trombones, 6 Contrabass Trombones, 6 Tubas and 3 Cimbassos!!!)

Variations on The Carnival of Venice by J.B. Arban performed by Bob McChesney (WOW!)

Sonata in F Major by B. Marcello peformed by Nitzan Haroz

Concertino for Trombone by F. David (last movement) performed by Christian Lindberg

 

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 Euphonium

The Euphonium is the smaller cousin of the Tuba. It plays in the same range as the Trombone and uses a mouthpiece that is almost identical.  Sound is produced by "buzzing" the lips into the mouthpiece. The fingering pattern is the same as the trumpet although the better, more expensive instruments have an additional valve.  The euphonium has a smoother and mellower sound than the trombone.  It is used mostly in concert bands and only sometimes in orchestras.  It is used commonly in marching bands but high school and college bands and drum corps use a marching euphonium that is wrapped into a different shape to project its sound to the stadium stands.  Many people call this instrument a Baritone or a Baritone Horn. This is actually incorrect. The Baritone Horn is a similar instrument but with a brighter sound and slightly differently shaped tubing. It is rare for anyone to play Euphonium in elementary band but many of our euphonium players either start in beginning band at Redwood or convert from other instruments. Some of our euphonium players are former clarinetists, trumpet players or even percussionists.  The instrument pictured above on the left is actually a ¾ sized Euphonium. It is a smaller size that is perfect for many of our 6th grade students. The instrument on the right is a full sized 4 valve Euphonium similar to what our Symphonic Band members play.  We work to make sure that students have an instrument that is the correct size for them AND since the cases for the instruments are heavy, students get a second instrument to keep at home so they don’t have to carry it back and forth.

 Suggested YouTube Videos

The Melody Shop by Karl King performed by Staff Sergeant Lauren Curran and Master Sergeant Chris Sarangoulis of the U.S. Army Field Band (really fun video!)

Pirates of the Caribbean medley by Klaus Badelt performed as a multitrack recording by Jorijn Van Hese

Gabriel's Oboe by Ennio Morricone performed by David Childs and the BBC Orchestra (gorgeous playing!)

The Hawk Talks by Louie Bellson performed by the Rich Matteson Sextet (Jazz Euphonium!)

Festive Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich performed by the University of Wisconsin Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

Ave Maria by Franz Beibl performed by Off Bass Brass (Tuba-Euphonium ensemble made of members of the U.S. Marine Band...beautiful playing!) 

 

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 Tuba

The Tuba is the largest instrument in the brass family (and the lowest in pitch). Sound is produced as with all brass instruments by "buzzing" into the mouthpiece. The is the bottom of what is known as the Pyramid of Sound.This means that for a band to have a full balanced sound, the base of that sound has to be a strong bass (the base is the bass instruments…get it???). Most music has to have this strong bass whether it’s the electric bass in a jazz or  rock band, string bass section in an orchestra or the tubas in a band.  Tubas are used in concert bands, orchestras and occasionaly jazz bands. For marching band we use a type called the Sousaphone (pictured below). Our Sousaphones are made mostly of fiberglass, which makes them lighter than the all brass instruments used in high school and college.  The Tuba is one of the newest instruments, having only been invented about 150 years ago.  Ironically, the name Tuba is the Latin word that means trumpet.  Although it is the largest band instrument at Redwood, there are multiple different sizes. We own several ¾ sized tubas which most 6th graders will start on (pictured on the left).  We also have two different models of full sized tubas (the Conn 5J pictured in the middle and the Yamaha YBB-641 shown on the right) which are slightly different heights. All students who play tuba are fitted with the proper sized instrument.  In addition we have adjustable tuba stands which can adjust the height of the instrument to make it more comfortable to play.  In the last several years our smallest band members have actually been our tuba players!  As with the Euphoniums, since the instruments are large and not easily carried back and forth from school, we provide an additional instrument that students keep at home so the only thing they bring back and forth is their mouthpiece.

Suggested YouTube Videos

How It's Made episode from The Science Channel showing how Tubas are made

Festive Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich performed by the University of Wisconsin Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

Fnugg by Øystein Baadsvik (some really cool, fun effects!)

Flight of the Bumble Bee by N. Rimsky-Korsakov performed by Pat Sheridan (Tubas can play this fast????)

Ave Maria by Franz Beibl performed by Off Bass Brass (Tuba-Euphonium ensemble made of members of the U.S. Marine Band...beautiful playing!)

 

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PERCUSSION

 Mallet Percussion

Mallet Percussion instruments, also known as Keyboard Percussion are the melodic instruments of the percussion family. Unlike most drums, they can play melodies and background harmonies with a keyboard that is laid out exactly the same as a Piano keyboard.  Although Keyboard percussion instruments are not played directly with the fingers like a Piano, having the notes arranged in the same pattern allows students with Piano experience to learn playing relatively easily. All of the instruments have the same note arrangment (although some have a wider range of notes) so performers can easily switch instruments as the music calls for. Mallet percussion instruments are played, not with drum sticks but with mallets that have a larger mallet head. They can be yarn or cord covered mallets such as those for Vibraphone and Marimba, plastic or hard rubber for Xylophone and Bells or even a rawhide mallet for Chimes. Different variations of mallets for each instrument are available to give slight changes to the sound and the performer chooses what works best for the music they are playing. The instruments shown above (listed in order) are the Glockenspiel (commonly known as simply Bells or Orchestral Bells), the Vibraphone, Chimes (also known as Tubular Bells), Xylophone and Marimba. While the Bells, Vibraphone and Chimes keys are made of metal, the Xylophone and Marimba keys are made of wood (often rosewood) or sometimes synthetic materials that sound like wood but are more durable.

Suggested YouTube Videos 

   Glockenspiel (Bells): Harry Potter Theme by John Williams        

Vibraphone: No More Blues by A.C. Jobim. Jazz vibraphone solo performed by Gary Burton

Chimes: Informative demonstration video from Vic Firth Percussion 

  Xylophone: Excerpt from Porgy and Bess by G. Gershwin         

Marimba: Musser Etude in C Major performed by professional percussionist (and for TOHS student!) Lauren Kosty    

Multiple percussion: Westside Story by L. Bernstein. GoPro video by professional percussionist (and former Redwood and TOHS student) Joe Martone performing in a pit orchestra (watch how many instruments he plays!)

Percussion Ensemble: Concerto for Vibraphone and Percussion Ensemble by Ney Rosauro

 

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 Concert Drums

 There are many types of Concert drums used in bands and orchestras. The drum pictured above on the left is the Snare Drum. This is one of the most common drums and has been around for hundreds of years. The Pearl Symphonic Snare Drum pictured above is the same model we have at Redwood Middle School (nicknamed the "Super Snare" by the students. It is different from the drums used on a drumset because it has different types of snares that can be turned on or off to change the sound of the drum and for extremely quiet playing. It is usually tuned differently and uses a slightly different drum head than a drum set snare drum as well. The set of drums pictured above next to the Snare Drum are the Concert Toms. These are concert versions of the Tom drums found on a drumset. They usually have only one drum head (on top) as opposed to drumset toms that have a top and bottom head. The smaller drums are higher in pitch than the larger drums but the toms don't produce as clear and defined a note as the larger Timpani drums. The Bass drum pictured above (2nd from the right) is a Yamaha Concert Bass Drum identical to the one we use at Redwood Middle School. It is much larger than the bass drum that is used on a drumset or that is carried in a marching band. It is played with a single large mallet (although sometimes two mallets can be used for rolls or faster parts).  The the set of copper drums pictured above are a set of Timpani. Timpani are usually used in sets of two, three or four drums (occasionally even five drums) of different sizes. The Timpani above are the same series as the Yamaha Timpani that we have at Redwood. Redwood owns a set of four Timpani ranging from a 23 inch diameter drum to the largest 32 inch diameter drum. Timpani can play specific notes that are adjusted using the pedals shown at the bottom which tighten or loosen the drumhead. Gauges on the drums show what note the drum is tuned to (players learn how to set the gauges themselves).  They are played with felt covered mallets (never snare drum sticks!). 

Suggested YouTube Videos

Snare Drum: Philharmonia Orchestra video describing concert snare drums

Chrono Variations for Concert Snare Drum

Spaceballs (The Movie) Timpani scene!

Timpani: The Tragedy of a Young Soldier 

Bass Drum: Concerto for Concert Bass Drum

Multiple Concert Drums: Double Take (Youtube video of a cool Multi-percussion duet)

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 Cymbals 

Suspended CymbalCrash Cymbals

Cymbals are round thin percussion instruments made of bronze or a similar metal. There are many types. The main types that we use in a concert band are the suspended cymbals and a pair of crash cymbals. Suspended cymbals are used by mounting a single cymbal on a stand similar to those used for a drum set (or sometimes hung by a strap). There are many different sizes and thicknesses of suspended cymbals that produce a wide variety of sounds. They can be played by crashing them with a snare drum stick or marimba mallet, scraped or using soft mallets, can produce a shimmering cymbal roll. Crash cymbals are a pair of cymbals (sometimes called Piatti-the italian word for plates to distinguish them from the crash cymbals on a drum set). these cymbals are typically crashed together to produced sound but can also be tapped together or scraped against each other.  There are many other types of cymbals including Ride Cymbals (used in drumsets to play rhythmic patterns), Crash cymbals (similar to a suspended cymbal but used on a drumset for accents and crashes), Hi-Hats (a pair of small cymbals on a stand with a foot pedal) and many other special effect cymbals.

Suggested YouTube Videos

How It's Made episode from The Science Channel showing how Cymbals are made

Cymbals: Philarmonia Orchestra video describing cymbals

Suspended Cymbals: U.S. Army Field Band video on playing technique

Crash Cymbals: U.S. Army Band video on playing technique

 

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 Accessories

 

The Euphonium is the smaller cousin of the Tuba. It plays in the same range as the Trombone and uses a mouthpiece that is almost identical.  Sound is produced by "buzzing" the lips into the mouthpiece. The fingering pattern is the same as the trumpet although the better, more expensive instruments have an additional valve.  The euphonium has a smoother and mellower sound than the trombone.  It is used mostly in concert bands and only sometimes in orchestras.  It is used commonly in marching bands but high school and college bands and drum corps use a marching euphonium that is wrapped into a different shape to project its sound to the stadium stands.  Many people call this instrument a Baritone or a Baritone Horn. This is actually incorrect. The Baritone Horn is a similar instrument but with a brighter sound and slightly differently shaped tubing. It is rare for anyone to play Euphonium in elementary band but many of our euphonium players either start in beginning band at Redwood or convert from other instruments. Some of our euphonium players are former clarinetists, trumpet players or even percussionists.  The instrument pictured above on the left is actually a ¾ sized Euphonium. It is a smaller size that is perfect for many of our 6th grade students. The instrument on the right is a full sized 4 valve Euphonium similar to what our Symphonic Band members play.  We work to make sure that students have an instrument that is the correct size for them AND since the cases for the instruments are heavy, students get a second instrument to keep at home so they don’t have to carry it back and forth.

 Suggested YouTube Videos

 

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 World Percussion 

The Tuba is the largest instrument in the brass family (and the lowest in pitch). Sound is produced as with all brass instruments by "buzzing" into the mouthpiece. The is the bottom of what is known as the Pyramid of Sound.This means that for a band to have a full balanced sound, the base of that sound has to be a strong bass (the base is the bass instruments…get it???). Most music has to have this strong bass whether it’s the electric bass in a jazz or  rock band, string bass section in an orchestra or the tubas in a band.  Tubas are used in concert bands, orchestras and occasionaly jazz bands. For marching band we use a type called the Sousaphone (pictured below). Our Sousaphones are made mostly of fiberglass, which makes them lighter than the all brass instruments used in high school and college.  The Tuba is one of the newest instruments, having only been invented about 150 years ago.  Ironically, the name Tuba is the Latin word that means trumpet.  Although it is the largest band instrument at Redwood, there are multiple different sizes. We own several ¾ sized tubas which most 6th graders will start on (pictured on the left).  We also have two different models of full sized tubas (the Conn 5J pictured in the middle and the Yamaha YBB-641 shown on the right) which are slightly different heights. All students who play tuba are fitted with the proper sized instrument.  In addition we have adjustable tuba stands which can adjust the height of the instrument to make it more comfortable to play.  In the last several years our smallest band members have actually been our tuba players!  As with the Euphoniums, since the instruments are large and not easily carried back and forth from school, we provide an additional instrument that students keep at home so the only thing they bring back and forth is their mouthpiece.

Suggested YouTube Videos

How It's Made episode from The Science Channel showing how Tubas are made

 

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  Drum Set 

The Tuba is the largest instrument in the brass family (and the lowest in pitch). Sound is produced as with all brass instruments by "buzzing" into the mouthpiece. The is the bottom of what is known as the Pyramid of Sound.This means that for a band to have a full balanced sound, the base of that sound has to be a strong bass (the base is the bass instruments…get it???). Most music has to have this strong bass whether it’s the electric bass in a jazz or  rock band, string bass section in an orchestra or the tubas in a band.  Tubas are used in concert bands, orchestras and occasionaly jazz bands. For marching band we use a type called the Sousaphone (pictured below). Our Sousaphones are made mostly of fiberglass, which makes them lighter than the all brass instruments used in high school and college.  The Tuba is one of the newest instruments, having only been invented about 150 years ago.  Ironically, the name Tuba is the Latin word that means trumpet.  Although it is the largest band instrument at Redwood, there are multiple different sizes. We own several ¾ sized tubas which most 6th graders will start on (pictured on the left).  We also have two different models of full sized tubas (the Conn 5J pictured in the middle and the Yamaha YBB-641 shown on the right) which are slightly different heights. All students who play tuba are fitted with the proper sized instrument.  In addition we have adjustable tuba stands which can adjust the height of the instrument to make it more comfortable to play.  In the last several years our smallest band members have actually been our tuba players!  As with the Euphoniums, since the instruments are large and not easily carried back and forth from school, we provide an additional instrument that students keep at home so the only thing they bring back and forth is their mouthpiece.

Suggested YouTube Videos

How It's Made episode from The Science Channel showing how Tubas are made

 

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 Marching Percussion 

The Tuba is the largest instrument in the brass family (and the lowest in pitch). Sound is produced as with all brass instruments by "buzzing" into the mouthpiece. The is the bottom of what is known as the Pyramid of Sound.This means that for a band to have a full balanced sound, the base of that sound has to be a strong bass (the base is the bass instruments…get it???). Most music has to have this strong bass whether it’s the electric bass in a jazz or  rock band, string bass section in an orchestra or the tubas in a band.  Tubas are used in concert bands, orchestras and occasionaly jazz bands. For marching band we use a type called the Sousaphone (pictured below). Our Sousaphones are made mostly of fiberglass, which makes them lighter than the all brass instruments used in high school and college.  The Tuba is one of the newest instruments, having only been invented about 150 years ago.  Ironically, the name Tuba is the Latin word that means trumpet.  Although it is the largest band instrument at Redwood, there are multiple different sizes. We own several ¾ sized tubas which most 6th graders will start on (pictured on the left).  We also have two different models of full sized tubas (the Conn 5J pictured in the middle and the Yamaha YBB-641 shown on the right) which are slightly different heights. All students who play tuba are fitted with the proper sized instrument.  In addition we have adjustable tuba stands which can adjust the height of the instrument to make it more comfortable to play.  In the last several years our smallest band members have actually been our tuba players!  As with the Euphoniums, since the instruments are large and not easily carried back and forth from school, we provide an additional instrument that students keep at home so the only thing they bring back and forth is their mouthpiece.

Suggested YouTube Videos

How It's Made episode from The Science Channel showing how Tubas are made

 

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Redwood Middle School

Redwood Middle School
233 Gainsborough Rd.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Phone: (805) 497-7264
Fax: (805) 497-3734

Redwood Counseling Office:
Phone: (805) 446-1962
Fax: (805) 494-8930