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Band Instrument learning

Kristian11Kristian11 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
Recently, I have been interested in joining band because of how good other people have told me it looks for college and also it just looks interesting so I think I would enjoy it as a class. One problem is.... I don't know how to play the instruments.... and the auditions are only a little over 5 months away. With 4 advanced classes (mix of APs and Honors) and lots of ECs, could I be able to learn how to play a band instrument in about 5 months?

Replies to: Band Instrument learning

  • allyphoeallyphoe Registered User Posts: 1,058 Senior Member
    At my kid's school, Band is a Big Deal, and if you didn't join in 6th grade, you are out of luck, and not even permitted to audition. Even for orchestra, which is less of a big deal, four years of school classes plus four years of private lessons is not always enough to get you into the 10th grade audition-only orchestras.

    If you have a strong background in music (from piano or voice lessons, for instance), and natural aptitude (our district assesses 5th graders and recommends which instrument they'll be able to pick up quickest), and a teacher who can prep you for the audition, you might do well enough. For most people, it won't be realistic, though.
  • Kristian11Kristian11 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    Would learning the snare drum take too much time and effort?
  • eh1234eh1234 Registered User Posts: 590 Member
    High school percussionists generally play snare at a high level, bass drum, mallets (which require reading treble clef), timpani (including knowing how to tune it), and various auxiliary percussion instruments. The other percussionists likely started on the snare in 5th grade. It would still be easier than learning to play a brass or wind instrument.

    Maybe consider choir if you have the aptitude.
  • bopperbopper Registered User Posts: 8,400 Senior Member
    You should join activities because you like them, not for college.
    You can't just join the soccer team because varsity sports look good to colleges.

    What do you like to do? Art? Sing? Dance? Volunteer? Debate?

    Check out "How to be a High School Superstar" by Cal Newport.

    "The basic message of the book is this: Don't wear yourself out taking as many classes as you can and being involved in every club and sport. Instead, leave yourself enough free time to explore your interests. Cultivate one interest and make it into something special that will make you stand out among the other applicants and get you into the toughest schools, even if your grades and scores aren't stellar. Newport calls this the “relaxed superstar approach,” and he shows you how to really do this, breaking the process down into three principles, explained and illustrated with real life examples of students who got into top schools: (1) underscheduling—making sure you have copious amounts of free time to pursue interesting things, (2) focusing on one or two pursuits instead of trying to be a “jack of all trades,” and (3) innovation—developing an interesting and important activity or project in your area of interest. This fruit yielded by this strategy, an interesting life and real, meaningful achievements, is sure to help not only with college admissions, but getting a job, starting a business, or whatever your goals."


  • guineagirl96guineagirl96 Registered User Posts: 3,704 Senior Member
    Does your high school have a beginning band? Some do. If not, 5 months is not enough time to learn an instrument if you don't already play one. Percussion is more than just playing the snare drum, and would still be difficult to learn unless you have an aptitude for it. You'd need to start lessons immediately to have any hopes of learning percussion in time for the audition.
  • QipsomaQipsoma Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    I'll third that you can't just learn to play one percussion instrument. Percussionists have the difficult job of having to know how to play all of the percussion instruments. A lot of this depends on the level of your school's band and what the director is like. If the school's ensemble(s) are advanced, I wouldn't get your hopes up of getting in when you audition. Also - I would imagine that your school has a non-auditioned ensemble? For the people who don't make the cut? That would probably be the place for you until you get more experience under your belt. As for being busy, in many/most schools, you'll find that the band kids tend to be above average in their academics like you. There will definitely be people with similar schedules to you in the band.

    The first step you should take if you're serious about joining band is to go and talk to the director. Tell them you don't play an instrument, but want to learn and join. Most music educators would be pretty happy to hear that someone wants to learn to play an instrument. Even if they say you won't be able to join an ensemble after just 5 months of practice, they could probably hook you up with a private lesson teacher, a student you could ask to teach you how to read music, or even possibly an instrument (or where to go to rent/buy one).

    Some tips if you start to learn an instrument -
    Obviously, there are some instruments that are harder than others. Don't go into this trying to learn the oboe in five months, it puts you at a disadvantage.
    PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE every day. You'll probably get bored of practicing, but just remember your goal and know that most people don't love to practice by themselves.

    Good Luck!
  • 3rdXsTheCharm3rdXsTheCharm Registered User Posts: 245 Junior Member
    You may be able to learn to play an easier instrument like tenor sax in 5 months if you take some private lessons. My college D played tenor sax from grade 6 through freshman year of college. It took little effort, and playing the harmony is usually a less intense than playing the melody. At the end of marching season freshman year, she cross trained onto mellophone - completely different and much more difficult! She took group classes through one semester and practiced all summer, and now she's actually quite good. She says playing sax is much easier because each note has it's own combination of keys to press vs a horn instrument that requires a lot of work with the armature.
    With your difficult schedule, you may enjoy having a "different way to use your brain."
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