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Five Underrated Instruments

5 Underrated Instruments for Your Child to Learn

original-5underrated_blogWhether your child wants to join their school band or orchestra, or if you want your child to take private music lessons, it can be difficult to select the right instrument. Oftentimes, students and parents alike only consider instruments that are popular, age appropriate, and/or affordable. While this criteria is reasonable, there are a number of underrated instruments for your child to learn that are also age appropriate and inexpensive.

 

Take a moment to consider these instruments and their benefits.

  1. Viola
    A lesser known string instrument, the viola closely resembles the violin in every way it counts. In fact, many viola players are able to use their skills to play the violin later on. How? Not only are both of these instruments held and played the same way, they share three of the same strings. While the violin has one higher string, the viola has one lower string.The main difference between the two instruments is the clef they use. Violists are the only instrumentalists who regularly use the alto clef. Therefore, those who play the viola tend to have phenomenal music reading and music theory skills. Although the viola is often neglected for its popular sibling the violin, it’s one of the best instruments for your child to learn from an educational and opportunity standpoint. Less competition amongst violists means more opportunities to play.
  • Trumpet
    While trumpets are well-known instruments, they are not well selected by kids looking to learn an instrument for the first time. This could be because trumpets are considered one of the most difficult instruments to play. Not only does it require good breath and finger coordination, it is a loud instrument. Furthermore, trumpets are often given the melody, making precise intonation important. If a trumpet goes out of tune, everyone will notice. This makes it a great instrument for your child to learn if they enjoy a challenge or being the center of attention.
  • Trombone
    The trombone – even less popular than the trumpet – offers a number of advantages to your child. Like many of the instruments on this list, less competition means your child will have more opportunities to play the trombone. The trombone has the unique benefit of being valuable to just about every kind of music group as well. They’re heard in bands, orchestras, symphonies, jazz bands, and so on. While the trombone can be a difficult instrument to care for, it can be a good opportunity for your child to learn about the importance of maintenance and respect for valuable items.
  • Flute
    Considered one of the oldest woodwind instruments, the flute is an easy, affordable, and versatile instrument for your child to learn. It is considered versatile in terms of both portability and usage. Learning the flute allows students to pick up other instruments later on as well, such as the piccolo or the saxophone. Its ease and pleasing tone make it a good instrument to develop your child’s confidence and foundational understanding of music.
  • Clarinet
    The clarinet is often neglected over its more popular counterpart, the saxophone. Few people realize the similarities between these two instruments, but a soprano saxophone even looks similar to a clarinet. However, the saxophone is considered easier to play than the clarinet, meaning the clarinet offers an educational advantage to your child. Furthermore, just like the viola to the violin, students who learn the clarinet can easily learn the saxophone later on. Switching the other way around, however, is more challenging.

 

Every Student Is Unique

It can be difficult to choose an instrument for you or your child when you’re just starting out, though we hope you will seriously consider these underrated instruments for your child to learn. Each one offers unique benefits to the player, and by virtue of being underrated, your child will often have more opportunities to play as a result. This could include special bands or orchestras, competitions, or even scholarships. No matter what instrument your child chooses to play though, we hope they enjoy a lifelong relationship to music!

Meet Our New Saxophone Teacher: Seth Ebersole

Sax Teachers Philly

Saxophone Teachers in Philadelphia | Philly Music Lessons

Seth teaches Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass Saxophone, as well as Clarinet.  He is currently a senior in the Undergraduate Jazz Studies department of the Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia. He is a saxophonist, teacher, and composer. Under the expertise of Jazz greats: Dick Oatts, Terell Stafford, and Timothy Warfield Jr., he has been privileged to study.  He has performed and recorded with the likes of Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Ingrid Jensen and Christian McBride at Temple University as well as the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia. In 2013, He was a finalist for a tenor saxophone position with a United States Army Band at West Point. In the Spring of 2014, he worked in the Diamond Peer Mentor Program of Temple University in which he co-taught an undergraduate class with a Temple Faculty Mentor.  In May of ’14, he was named the 2014 Presser Undergraduate Scholar. He is also active as a performer in styles besides jazz, including: classical, pop, rock and others.

Seth explains his musical (and life) philosophy below:

 

When did you begin playing Saxophone, and why?:

I started playing in the third grade. I’m from a musical family, my parents are both full time musicians and music was just part of growing up in our household. I chose the saxophone because I liked the way it looked! I keep playing now because the saxophone has such a wonderful range of sounds, more than most other instruments I think. Similar to the cello, a sax can really mimic the human voice.

 

What are your personal goals as a musician?:

Music helps me conceptualize other life situations. The way I think about music is similar to the way I think about life. Therefore, my goal is to find my musical identity, my niche, my voice. I think this is a worthwhile and important goal for anyone who’s learning in music. Find you!

 

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:

 I think that if you’re making progress in music, you’ll sometimes have “quantum leaps”. Most recently, I remember figuring out a way to exercise my ears to hear better than I thought they could. Defining moments like this are important, but they’re often hard to get to.

 

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:

 One of my teachers at Temple University pointed out that he plays his saxophone completely different from the way he did thirty years ago. He also thinks about music differently from that time. He challenged me to always keep growing. Don’t ever stop learning and discovering the next musical step for you!

 

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:

Tomorrow’s practice session! Hopefully I’m always giving myself a new challenge; something more difficult than ever before to work on. However, in the past and present, sound and time are the hardest things to understand.  At my first lesson in college, my teacher showed me how much softer my saxophone playing embouchure should be. He played for me (and still does) to show me how relaxed the muscles in the face should be when playing. This is a particularly tough lesson to learn!

 

What is your biggest musical achievement?:

 I’ve been blessed to work with some legendary musicians and have some wonderful times in music. One of the most exciting was being named the “2014 Presser Undergraduate Scholar”, one of the highest honors given to an undergraduate music student at Temple University.

 

Favorite thing about teaching?:

I like coming up with analogies for music that stick in my student’s minds. When these work, a student has a “light bulb” moment that helps them really understand and dig into the concept. It helps me too. There are so many times when a simple analogy I’ve given to a student helps with something I’m working on.

 

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:

 Use your ear. Realize that your most important musical muscle can never be too strong. The more music you can hear, the better the music you play.

 

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc:

 I play with a number of jazz groups, wedding/show bands as well as groups for Temple University. This past spring, I was on a new album by the Temple University Jazz Band featuring music written and dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie.