A Parent's Guide to the Shiny Instruments
Mom, Sara has a silver trumpet, I want one!
You might have heard your child talking about a step-up instrument when they came home from band the other day. “Mom, Sara got a new silver trumpet" or "Timmy has a new fancy trombone!”
You are now wondering, ‘what is a step-up?’, ‘does my child need one?’, ‘what’s the difference?’, ‘you just want my money!’ Let’s talk about it.
What's up with a step-up?
Step-up - or intermediate - instruments are very different than the instrument your child is playing right now. Student instruments are meant to be easy to play and durable. Step-up instruments are hand-crafted with better materials, for example wood, silver, and gold. Many brass instruments have a one-piece bell that is hand hammered instead of two machine-spun pieces welded together. This new fancy trombone that Timmy has - what makes it so fancy? That’s a great question, it has what is called an F-attachment, or a trigger, which allows the musician to use alternate positions to play faster and lower notes. Each instrument has been upgraded with different materials and additional hand-crafted features. What this means is that your child could be able to play faster, have more control and play extended ranges. The instruments can have better intonation and response. Your child can have a larger, richer sound and allow them to perform at a higher level.
How do I know my child needs one?
You might be wondering: is my child ready for a step-up instrument? The best way to figure this out is to talk with your child, their band director, and their private lesson teacher.
Find your child’s goals by asking some of these questions;
1. Do they want to be first chair?
2. Do they want to audition for honor bands?
3. Are they interested in private lessons or already taking them?
If the answer to these questions is a “yes!”, your child might be ready for a step-up.
How do we do it?
The best way is to bring your child into our showroom and try out the instruments! We will help your child test multiple brands and models to find which one is suited best to your child and your budget. Some tips on instrument testing:
- Test multiple instruments by playing the same passages the same way
- Test the extreme ranges of the instrument
- Play as high as possible
- Play as low as possible
- How loud, soft, fast, and slow can your child play
- How do they keys or valves respond
- Ask your child how they feel.
- What does your child like about the instrument?
- What does your child not like about the instrument?
If you have a private lessons teacher, ask them if they’d like to have a lesson trying instruments in our showroom. If you don’t have a private lessons teacher that is okay! At Buddy Roger’s Music, we have instrument specialists that can help your child learn about the instruments and pick out one that works the best for them.
Is this just a ploy to make me buy a more expensive instrument?
That's a fair question. Any serious athlete will at some point develop preferences for certain brands and pieces of equipment which he/she feels benefits his/her performance in the game. A skilled driver may be competent to drive a Ferrari at high-speed, but a teenage driver would most likely be more suited to a __________(insert your favorite under-powered 4-cylinder sedan).
In the same way, advancing musicians will find themselves developing preferences and seeking better equipment to enhance the skills they are developing from practicing and performing.
Any quality school music retailer should offer several levels of step-up instruments to help fit the individual needs of each student, and affordable financing options to fit each situation.