NWA Music Series: Should my child pick band or orchestra?

by Greg Price

In our area, most schools allow you to choose band or orchestra in the sixth grade.  But which one should your child choose?

Should my child pick band or orchestra?

In Northwest Arkansas, most schools allow you to choose band or orchestra in the sixth grade. But which one should your child choose? There is no correct answer... however, there are a few things to consider that might make the choice easier.

First, our area is blessed with great band and orchestra programs so it's hard to make the "wrong" choice.


  • Cost - Quality instruments are not inexpensive. However, our area does have creative options such as rental, guaranteed buy-back, and quality used instruments at discounted prices. In general, the average cost to start up in band or orchestra is about the same. In high school the cost can vary based on if your band or orchestra travels, or if there is a fee.

  • Time - In the beginning both programs take about the same amount of time for practice, rehearsal, and preparation. However, in high school band could take much more time outside of the school day. Especially if your school has a competitive marching band. Not all schools require students to be in marching band, but it is a consideration.

  • Sports - Most coaches and directors try to work together to make sure students can be in music and in sports. However, practicing for both can be challenging. It could be very time consuming to play fall sports, and be in marching band. Whereas orchestra might be less so.

  • Personality - There is no science here, just years of observation. Kids that tend to work better in groups, fare better in band. Kids who typically are alright working alone, or in small groups, fare better in orchestra. Obviously, there are exceptions to both observations, but I have noticed a pattern over the last 20 years.

  • Desire - Ultimately if your child has expressed a desire to be in band or orchestra, that desire typically out values any other issue. They will practice more, and enjoy it more if it was THEIR choice, and not the choice we pushed them into based on any other issue or concern. Meaning, if you have a saxophone in the closet, but they want to play violin. Let them.

I hope this helps guide you in helping your child make their music choice!

Greg Price, owner Musicworks in Bentonville, Arkansas

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