Sometimes, you can guess where a person is from, what they like to do, or how smart they are from how they act. But can you guess what instrument they play? Or, if they don’t play an instrument, what instrument they should play? What seems random to most people can be easily calculated by the trained eye. I will pass onto you the knowledge I have gathered from being a and geek for 8 years. Here, I will go into detail about the different species of musicians in the Band family. Maybe you can identify these creatures in the wild. Call this your basic band geek field guide.

First, let’s look at woodwinds. The flute. Flutes tend to be female, though there are male flute players. Male flute players usually have some degree of femininity; there are not macho male flute players. Flutes tend to be the girly girls of the band. They worry about their clothes and titter at jokes behind their dainty hands. They have a lot of runs, but don’t always get them right, and can have serious pitch problems. They are very social creatures and can be a little air headed sometimes.

Next we’ll move to the clarinet. The clarinets are more chill than flutes. They tend not to be attention seekers, but content with mastering tricky runs and blending in the background, though they do enjoy their fleeting moment in the spotlight. Because the clarinet is a subtle instrument, clarinets bond together and are very social as well, realizing the need to combine their sounds collectively to be heard. They are usually the fun loving members of the band, but not crazily so, and they can be a little wacky sometimes. They are dependable and consistent, and usually don’t play loud enough, most certainly never drowning anyone else out. Their arch enemies are the trumpets, who tend to blast loudly and drown out the clarinets, who simply can’t crank as much volume as the obnoxious brass.

Oh the saxophones. Saxes are the trumpets of the woodwind section. They think that they are the bomb, and love playing loud, bending notes, and just being generally obnoxious. However, girl saxophone players are usually pretty chill and a ton of fun. In general, saxes think that they should always have the melody and get jealous of the trumpets. They think they’re cool, but in reality are a tad dorky. But shush, don’t tell them that. Goofing off is their past time, and they can be sure to have some lame pun in their back pocket.

Oboes. Oh they’re fun woodwinds. Oboes are always a tad odd and quirky, but make amazing friends. They know how to have fun, and usually have something really unique about them, such as a lint collection or a hobby hunting UFO’s. If you ever need to know a random piece of trivia, ask the oboe player. They’re quiet most of the time, but when they talk it’s either insightful or hilarious. They don’t mind sticking out from the crowd, and just do their thing. Oboes get along with all instruments, all the time. They’re that awesome.

Now we move on to the brass. In general, your woodwinds are less showy, don’t mind not playing melody as long as it’s an interesting line, and generally more chill, while brass players tend to have bigger egos and like making a lot of noise.

The biggest ego of all belongs to the trumpets. “How many trumpet players does it take to screw in a light bulb?” “Only one, he stands still and the earth revolves around him.” That joke pretty much sums them up. They have no trouble being loud, and enjoy showing off at any possible moment. However, they are known to whine excessively about their chops getting tired after playing for just a short while. Trumpets are notoriously lazy and self centered. If they don’t have the melody, than they drown out the people who do, and constantly have to be reminded that they aren’t the only instrument in the band worth hearing.

Next is the french horn. French horns are the most chill and least cocky of the brass, almost like a woodwind in their temperament. They have a mellow sounds and can’t really blast like other brass. It’s a difficult instrument to master, so french horns are usually good at what they do because they work hard. They are the sensible, reasonable section of the brass, and usually quiet in nature.

Trombones. These are usually the perverts of the brass section. They refer to their instruments as “boners” and take every possible opportunity to make a quick sexual innuendo. They’re the jokesters of the band, constantly cracking jokes and making the whole band lose its composure. They are a little pompous in their playing, and when they have a fun sliding part they love blasting it out there. However, in general, they don’t overplay.

Low brass. This includes tubas and baritones. Tubas are the fun, goofy people of the band. If you have a girl tuba, she’s usually pretty awesome and can kick any guy’s ass. They are happy to plod away at the baseline and don’t get too jealous of the runs the woodwinds master, or the melody the trumpets hog. However, when low brass do get some spotlight, they love it. They are very chill, laid back people and can be a tad perverted, but not as bad as the trombones. Baritones are basically like tubas, but a little less macho and badass.

Percussion. Oh how we love thee. Why does it always seem like they are the ones who have the hardest time keeping a steady beat? I jest. Percussionists are usually spazzes in some way, shape, or form. They can always be found fidgeting or drumming with random objects, and have trouble sitting still. They get bored when the rest of the band talks about notes and spend most of their time lounging about in the back of the room, entertaining themselves. Percussionists usually have the least comprehensive musical knowledge, but can beat out a rhythm like nobody’s business. They’re usually little kids at heart, happy to play with the cool percussion toys that make awesome sound effects. Because they have to keep the heartbeat of the band, they are dependable and loyal, even if they get a little temperamental and hot headed; you can always count on them to keep the band going.

So there you have it. The basics of concert band stereotyping. Now you yourself can go out, find random people, and guess what instrument they are based on this model. It works like a charm. One of my favorite things to do when I had a new director was to guess what instrument they played. So, go forth, and make instrumentalists of all families, in the name of Mozart, Beethoven, and Eric Whitacre.

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