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By: Ben Fraser

In many school music programs, there are three basic routes you can take. Generally, you have the choice between Chorus, Orchestra, and Band. They are all equally challenging, fulfilling, and rewarding. And taking music lessons when you’re younger will put you at a great advantage to perform at the highest level in any of the three. Learning the fundamentals of music before entering these programs can set you up for success.

Orchestra is comprised of string instruments. They include the violin, the viola, the cello, and the upright bass. A bow is pulled across their strings to produce a sound. Constructed almost entirely of wood, these instruments are crafted to perfection and all play a part in producing symphonic music.

Chorus is an ensemble of voices. The different vocal parts are often separated into Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass (often shortened to SATB). These are ordered from highest to lowest pitch (Soprano being the highest and Bass being the lowest). The voice is an instrument that everyone has with them at all times. It’s also interesting that Chorus is the only group that uses language in their music.

Band is divided into woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Woodwinds include instruments like clarinets and oboes. Brass has instruments like trombones and horns. And percussion includes drums and cymbals. Brass and woodwinds are played using air from the mouth. Although, the way in which a player puts their mouth to the instrument varies. This is known as embouchure.

All three ensembles are excellent endeavors and require an extreme amount of talent and dedication. Once you’ve figured out what path you want to take, it is recommended to find a private instructor to guide you on your chosen instrument. Go forth and follow your musical passion, there are no wrong decisions when choosing a musical program!

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