Handling a Request to Change Instruments
Occasionally a student and parent will ask about an instrument change. This is the information I share with them. It has served the program well and keeps changes to a minimum and only when it is the best decision for the student's development.
We currently do not have the resources or schedule to accommodate instrument changes after the initial Summer Band Beginner Class. It is best that students stay on the instrument they chose during instrument appointments. Usually the reason students want to switch is because they believe they have already learned how to play that instrument and now want to try a new one or they think they are "bored" with the initial choice.
Each instrument comes with it's own set of unique challenges. Learning a musical instrument is a life-long process - and one never truly masters their instrument. There are times, however, when students are needed to switch instruments for the benefit of the band and having full instrumentation: alto sax to tenor and baritone sax; baritone to tuba; oboe to bassoon; clarinet to bass clarinet, etc.
Students have, on very rare occasion, been switched at a director's discretion, due to medical conditions which warrant a change.
It is normal for students to be curious and interested in learning other instruments, but the road to improvement is a single-lane, one-way, highway. Students should stay on the instrument they chose and be committed to mastering that instrument.
Our goal is for each student to work toward mastery on the instrument they selected at Beginner Band Appointments. We are very careful and methodical in how we help students select an instrument before Beginner Band starts.
Once the instrumentation of the band is determined it is very critical that we maintain that instrumentation for the benefit of the musical integrity of the entire ensemble. Correct and balanced instrumentation is one of the most important factors in the success of the ensemble. In the same way each athletic team has players in specific positions in the correct ratio of players, a band must have the correct ratio of players on each instrument.
Students may change the instrument of study under one of the following scenarios-
1. The director advises the student to switch based upon a need for a particular instrument or more advanced "color" instruments are needed to balance the ensemble.
2. The student re-enrolls with the Beginner Band the following school year to begin study on the new instrument.
3. The student continues in band while taking private lessons with an approved private lesson teacher outside of school on the secondary instrument. If the student catches up to the level of their current group and passes a playing assessment for the directors they may enroll in their grade level band on the new instrument the following year.