The Instruments

5th Grade Students will get to choose between Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone/Euphonium, and Percussion. Scroll down to learn more about each instrument.

For information on how to get an instrument, see: Getting an Instrument




The flute is the only woodwind instrument in our band that doesn’t use a reed. The flute’s sound comes from blowing air across an open hole. Flutes are used in a wide variety of styles of music. They’re very important in the symphony orchestra and classical chamber music, but they’re also used in jazz, Latin, and world music.





The clarinet is a single reed woodwind instrument. The type of clarinet we use is a B-flat clarinet, but there are many types of clarinets in use today. Unlike the flute and the saxophone, which are made of metal and have closed tone holes, clarinets are generally made of plastic or wood, and have open tone holes that the player must cover with his or her fingers. Clarinets are used in many different styles of music, and can play a large range of notes.


The alto saxophone is a single reed woodwind instrument invented in the 1800s by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax. Other common saxophones include the soprano, tenor, and baritone. The saxophone is a versatile instrument, used widely in jazz, Latin, soul, Broadway, and wind band music. Most beginning saxophonists start out on the alto sax. Since the fingerings on all saxophones are the same, students can easily branch out to playing other members of the saxophone family during the course of their musical careers.



With its bright tone, the trumpet is an important part of many styles of music, including classical, jazz, blues, soul, funk, salsa, and mariachi. While trumpets are known for their ability to play loud, brilliant notes (like bugle calls), they can also play soft, pretty melodies. Some students will begin on Trumpet and migrate to other brass instruments like the French Horn, Euphonium, and Tuba.



The trombone is one of the oldest instruments in use today, and has changed very little since its invention in the 1400s. Trombones are members of the brass family, and unlike other band instruments, trombones are operated using a slide. In addition to having a long history, trombones are also very versatile instruments. Trombones are important in symphony orchestras, wind bands, and in a number of styles including salsa, jazz, Broadway, ska, soul, and sacred music. Trombones can also range in tone from soft and angelic to dark and scary.



The euphonium (you-PHONE-knee-yum) is sometimes known as the baritone. It is a member of the brass family and looks like a small version of a tuba. Its sound is similar to that of a trombone, but it uses valves like a trumpet instead of a slide (like a trombone). Some students who begin on euphonium will move “down” to a tuba in later years, while others will stay on euphonium.


Percussionists are unique members of the band for several reasons. First of all, percussion instruments are the only instruments in the band that you hit. Also, percussionists learn more instruments than anyone else in the band. While your friends will concentrate on learning only one instrument, you’ll be responsible for understanding several instruments before the year is over. Percussion is one of the oldest families of instruments, dating back to prehistoric times. Percussion is also one of the most diverse instrument families, including hundreds of instruments used in a wide variety of cultures and musical styles. Eventually, students will branch out to even more instruments like cymbals, bass drum, triangle, hand drums, xylophone, and drum set. This begins by learning how to play on the bells and practice pad, as pictured here.