The School Orchestra Instrument Selection Guide

For many young musicians, choosing from a selection of school orchestra instruments is like a rite of passage. Depending on the school, students can begin their orchestra training as early as nine or ten years old, giving them the first building blocks of their musical knowledge. But choosing which instrument to learn can be a difficult decision for young people, especially if they’re interested in more than one type of instrument. How can you choose between percussion, horns, and strings when they each offer such unique contributions to an orchestra?

There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the best match between student and instrument. In some cases, your body may choose the instrument for you. Technical factors like hand size and strength can make a student more or less suited to a particular instrument. The genre and style of music a student is interested in can also help narrow down the choices. Here are our tips for picking an orchestra instrument that suits you.

We suggest Strings... of course

man conducting orchestra

It would be disingenuous of a string instrument retailer to suggest anything other than violin, viola, cello, or bass as a first instrument. Not only are these instruments most frequently offered in school orchestras, but they are a key feature of any orchestra. Each string instrument has a range of sizes that an experienced string teacher or music store employee can help you choose from, but the violin and viola are good options for anyone concerned with instrument size and/or storage space.

Even if the instrument you choose first doesn’t perfectly suit you, there is plenty of benefit from learning to play any instrument. Learning an instrument teaches valuable skills such as discipline, coordination, and patience. Additionally, learning an instrument at a young age makes it easier to pick up a second instrument later in life. Finding the right instrument is a journey and every step brings you closer and closer to the perfect choice.

Making Music Together

If you are or have an elementary to middle school aged child, it may be time to start thinking about getting them into the school orchestra. Some schools may use auditions to determine orchestra membership, while others may acquire members through enrollment. Either way, it’s important to make sure your child is going into their musical journey with as much preparation as possible, regardless of what grade they’re in or how much experience they have.

If you’re not sure where to find a suitable instrument for your child, look no further than Johnson String Instrument. Don’t want to commit to an instrument because of you or your child’s rapidly changing size or interests? We offer stringed instrument rentals in a variety of sizes so you don’t have to pay for an instrument if you’re no longer using it. Visit our catalog today for affordable instrument rentals and purchases.

Additional Resources

Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

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Whether searching for a job, learning about the "Mozart Effect," looking for a summer music camp, or choosing the right instrument string, you need look no further.

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Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in under-served communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

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JSI Blog

Information and helpful articles about the music and instruments we love.

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Helpful "how to" videos and useful information about JSI and the products and services we offer.

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