OT Choosing an Instrument for 4th graders

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Mar 5, 2008
North America
My dd is in the 4th grade and can choose an instrument to play. She automatically wanted to play the flute (along with many other students) and the teacher said that they will only select 8 kids to play flute. So...her other choices are Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Saxaphones, Horns and Percussion. Because she is small for her age I wanted to get an idea how big these other instruments are. Also, I wanted to get an idea of the difficulty level of some of these other instruments as well. She wants to play Oboe but I am not sure if it would be a good fit for her.

Anybody have any ideas or experiences that they want to share? We need to submit the form pretty quickly because it is a first come first served preference.

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Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2007
Did they not bring several mouthpieces of different instruments and let the kids "try" to make sounds through those? That's what they do up here to "evaluate" the kids before they actually choose their instrument. I would ask the band director about that. Some kids have a REALLY tough time with the reed instruments... maybe a brass is better. And the oboe is a double reed, so it's actually a bit more difficult to play that one right off the bat. Many people start off with a single reed instrument and later switch to an oboe or bassoon. The clarinet is a relatively instrument whereas the sax is larger/heavier.

Good luck with your decision!

I played clarinet when I was in the 5th grade (back in the olden days). At first it was difficult, but I was able to pick it up pretty quickly. Playing the flute used to make me light headed and dizzy.

Holding a clarinet is more comfortable than holding a flute or a sax at a young age. Tired arms with the flute and twisted neck & back with the sax.

The fingering for the notes are easily translated to the flute and the sax. In highschool, I was able to play sax in the jazz band, clarinet in the marching and symphonic band and the flute when I felt like messing aroung and doing something different.

Being in the band was a lot of fun and we got to go on some pretty cool trips. My favorite was to the World's Fair in British Columbia. A yearly trip to Disneyland as a Main Street Band was pretty cool too!

That's my opinion. Good luck in whatever your DD chooses.


I, too, played the clarinet, all through middle school. If she can handle the reed instruments, it was pretty easy. The fingering wasn't too hard and holding it wasn't a problem.
Mar 5, 2008
North America
Thanks for the advice!!! We actualy took a trip this evening to the Music and Arts Center store near our house and we were able to talk to the salesman and dd was able to look at and hold some instruments. She likes the clarinet and the flute. She played recorder last year which is somewhat similar to the clarinet when you hold it so I am leaning towards that. She is leaning towards the flute because "it's so shiny!" (her words).

So, we have some deciding to do. I told her that this is going to be a commitment that she has to live with for a while so not to pick anything just because it is pretty or because all her friends are doing it. Peer pressure can be a pain!!!

I'll keep you all posted!!!
Feb 22, 2007
Our school system offered a six-week program this summer to introduce the kids to the instrument they were thinking about playing. My daughter attended six half hour classes and her instrument of choice was also the flute. At first glance, it looked way too big for her, but luckily she has long fingers and picked up the fingering pretty quickly.

I honestly could not believe the beautiful sound coming out of that thing after only six little lessons! I always wanted to play the flute myself so I was thrilled when she chose it. ( I played the trombone- not nearly as fun as getting to play the melody!)

I have to say, once she started putting the time and effort into learning the notes, she made a nice progression. I think the instrument is a bit like gymnastics- if they like what they're doing, they're slightly more motivated.

Taking her to the music shop was an excellent idea. Perhaps they could direct you to a musician who could give her a little lesson on both the flute and the clarinet to help you decide which one would be more suited to her abilities. It's pretty amazing what they can get out of just a short lesson.

Good luck to you... I hope the choice makes everyone happy. My humble opinion is let her go for the flute!;)
Mar 5, 2008
When I was in school, we played the recorder from 3rd-5th. Then, in middle school (6-8) was when we started band. I played the French Horn, I loved it.


Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
North Carolina
Our 4th graders do the recorder also. Middle school plays the others - but, apparently you had to sign up for that last year (in 5th) or at back to school night - which I did not know or you don't get to play at all in middle school :eek:

ooppss !!!


Your DD is lucky. For us, we could only do string instruments in 4th grade. In 5th grade we had the option of doing a 'band' instrument. Now, with budget cuts, no music starts until 6th grade.
Feb 26, 2007
You are all really lucky, there is no musical instruction in our schools at all. I think my kids did one year of recorder in grade 3 and that was it.

I am jealous.
We got a flyer home from school stating that the district music director will be having a band instrument "petting zoo" so that the kids can come and check out the instruments.

My 5th grade DS is dying to follow in DH's foot steps and play the trumpet, but with a mouth full of braces it just isn't possible right now. His orthodontist has said NO mouth instruments EVER. We have talked him into piano and will look into private trumpet lessons once the braces come off.

Keep in mind, "shiny" equals lots of polishing. A black clarinet was pretty easy maintenence for me when I was playing.

Good luck in your choice if you haven't made it yet.


Our 4th graders do the recorder also. Middle school plays the others - but, apparently you had to sign up for that last year (in 5th) or at back to school night - which I did not know or you don't get to play at all in middle school :eek:

ooppss !!!

We are NC too - we choose not to do band in middle school b/c then you don't get to do the other encore classes (art, etc). My dd didn't want to give those up to play an instrument - plus she already takes piano lessons.
Mar 5, 2008
North America
**Update** on 4th grade instrument

Hi everyone! I just wanted to update you on dd's decision on what instrument to play...she has chosen the flute. I listened to a lot of you on here that said to let her choose so that is what I did. We went to the music store and signed the paperwork to "rent to own" the instrument. DD is very excited about starting the flute in school. I'm also glad that she has another activity totally different than gymnastics to get involved with.

I'll keep you all posted on her progress!!

Jan 17, 2008
It must be a gymnast thing! My DD just started band as well (7th grade her in MN, it was her first opportunity) she debated for a week what to play. Finally she asked her band teacher and they were SHORT a couple flutes! So guess what.. We also went to the music store and filled out the rent to own paperwork.

I played both flute and french horn in my younger years. I was in band all through highschool.. French horn in concert band. Melophone one year in HS Marching Band then on the color guard. It was such great times!


Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2007
I played flute from elementary school on and loved it. I still play and hope to play again in our community college band when the girls are older. I did it before I had kids and loved it. It really is a beautiful instrument and you get to sit in the first row usually. LOL. Hope she loves band. I can't wait till mine want to play instruments. We have a homeschool band, but you have to be 8 to start, so it will be awhile. :( My gymmie wants to play piano, but it isn't in the budget right now.
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