Instrument Survey

Trey Reely | September 2008

    Placing beginners on the correct instrument can be tricky. Based on years of experience and psychological guesswork, I’ve developed the following student survey that will inevitably place students on the instrument that is best for them. If that doesn’t work, your guess is as good as mine.

Directions: Read each statement below and mark it true or false.

I love being the center of attention. (If true, you have a potential first chair trumpet player.)

I can’t keep my hands to myself. (Students who mark this true should go anywhere but the percussion section – the last thing they need is sticks in their hands.)

I have a problem putting four-piece puzzles together. (If true, this person should avoid woodwinds – too many parts. Put him on a brass instrument where a simple twist of the mouthpiece into the leadpipe will get him off and running.

I love hitting things. (These students should be in the percussion section – it will make their day.)

I have the discipline of an anteater in an ant pile. (If true, suggest shop classes where they can do constructive things with a blowtorch.)

I love the feel of watermelon juice dribbling down my chin. (Students who mark this true should play tuba, because they seem to enjoy unusual pleasures.)

I love putting things together. (Put these students on bassoon – it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle every time one gets it out of the case.)

I love taking things apart. (These students should be percussionists. They will be taking things apart and putting them back together for the rest of their musical career.)

I love to make funny noises. (Trombone is the perfect instrument for these students.)

I can’t wait to wear a band uniform. (Students who mark this true should play flute so they might influence all the others who will complain about it.)

I like duck hunting. (Give these students a clarinet or saxophone so they can put their mouthpieces to extra use.)

I can dead lift 120 pounds. (If true, put them on tuba. They might actually take it home to practice once in a while.)

I like to whittle. (Suggest oboe or bassoon.)

I am a complainer. (All students complain. Put them on anything.)

I like living on the edge and taking chances. (If true, put them on horn.)

I sometimes miss hands when I try to clap. (Whatever you do, don’t put these students in the percussion section.)

I can curl 40 pounds with each arm. (If true, put them on a school baritone or tuba so they can help you pull the stuck slides out.)

I laugh at almost anything. (These students should play flute or clarinet so there’s the possibility they might sit in the front row and build your self-esteem by laughing at your smart-aleck asides and corny jokes.)

I hate sports. (Put students who mark this true on horn or tuba because they’re less likely to quit and go pro.)