Some schools place a huge importance on music and students learning. It can also be fun to learn about the reasoning behind the instruments students choose when they are old enough to join the music program.
“It’s really not that heavy,” the North Middle School student said of the cone-shaped, baritone-voiced brass instrument, “but it’s kinda awkward to handle.”
Crone, a member of her school’s 95-person sixth grade band, says her mom initially tried talking her out of playing such a cumbersome instrument when she began in the fifth grade.
“I wanted a unique instrument while my mom wanted an instrument that played a lotta notes in a lotta songs,” Crone remembers. “But when I get to my solo, my mom will see a euphonium will really set me apart.”
North Middle School band director Bob Gibson said Crone isn’t alone in choosing an instrument that suits her personality.
“Some students prefer to be part of a crowd while others want to stand alone,” Gibson, currently in his 33rd school year as a band director, notes.
When he started teaching in the Sioux City Community School District more than 20 years ago, Gibson says the most popular musical instruments were the flute — it was cheap to rent and portable to carry — and the saxophone — because it was deemed cool to play.
This school year, the most prominent instruments seems to be the trombone and flute.
Sixth grader Ann Noutepe plays the latter, though she previously had a hankering to play violin.
“I discovered everybody in my family start off with the violin but quit and played the flute instead,” Noutepe says, scrunching up her nose. “Sorry, but the violin sounds way too corny.”
Soren Peterson doesn’t have to worry about sounding corny. As his band’s sole oboist, he prefers to stand out.
“I like the oboe because it’s not typical and it’s really tough to play,” he says, fiddling with the woodwind instrument.
For saxophonist Will Stokes, his musical instrument of choice allows him to be a little bit jazzy.
“A sax has a much cooler sound to it,” he says. “It has a deeper sound and isn’t quite so squeaky.”
That may be true but Ben Maxey, Stokes’ friend and bandmate, might need a pep talk on becoming a confident saxophonist.
“I’m playing the saxophone this year but I might try the drums next year,” he admits. “I like making noise when I’m playing music.”
That’s not an entirely bad thing, Gibson says, since sixth grade band is designed to give kids a chance to explore their musicality.
“This year, we want the students to have a good characteristic sound and to become proficient when it comes to notes and rhythms,” he allows. “They may begin the year as horn blowers but they’ll finish it as musicians.”
Which is good news for Crone, who is still getting the hang of playing a euphonium.