School bands vary in their set-up and particularly in the range of instruments used, but a typical school band emphasizes woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. Some students will select a cheaper of instrument, such as a flute, while others will opt for a more expensive option. The advantage of more expensive instruments is that since fewer people learn them, the student has more opportunities to play.
The saxophone is one of the most expensive student instruments. A single-reed woodwind instrument, the saxophone has a place in many school bands, and comes in multiple forms. The alto sax is among the most common, and is the most likely to be learned by students, as it probably the easiest to grasp. The alto sax is suitable for children of 7 or 8 years and older. School bands typically feature multiple alto saxes, along with other types of saxophone. The alto sax is at the cheaper end of the saxophone range, but can still cost from $790 to $950 for a decent instrument, as of 2010. Certain brands can cost several hundred dollars more.
The oboe is one of the most expensive instruments a student in a school band might opt to play: a low-end model typically retails for at least $1,000. The oboe is a double-reed woodwind instrument which finds a place in many school bands and orchestras. Thanks to the oboe’s clear sound, it can usually be heard amid a crowd of similar woodwind instruments. The oboe is constructed either of plastic or wood; most professional players choose a wooden instrument. Many students begin with a plastic oboe, since wooden oboes fall into disrepair more quickly and need to be serviced regularly. A plastic oboe keeps down these repair costs.
The french horn is a brass instrument which can be played by students beginning at around age 11. Horn players typically begin with a single horn instrument; these are easier to play, and the student can test his enthusiasm for the instrument before moving on to the more complex -- and expensive -- double horn. A single horn costs around $230, while a new double horn is likely to cost roughly $2,400, as of 2010.