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7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

In 7 hardest instruments to learn to play in a marching band, we ranked the most popular instruments used in marching bands for you.

Some may ask “is the violin the hardest instrument to play?” or wonder if instruments not played in marching bands are more difficult. Though the violin may be what is the hardest instrument to play in an orchestra, let’s face it, playing any instrument in a marching band is no easy task. For those of us who have trouble not tripping over our own feet, just imagine what it would be like to march in time with a group while balancing and playing an instrument to the right beat and tune. Woodwind and brass band members additionally have to control their breathing well so they’re not worn out after the first song. While percussion players, as the foundation of the band, must keep a steady rhythm lest the entire song and band go kaput.

Some of us can no doubt picture ourselves accidentally stopping to concentrate on our instrument leading to a domino effect of all the marching band members behind us crashing to the ground. That wouldn’t go over too well.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

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So we’re helping you avoid such disasters by showing you musical instrument difficulty ranking. To rank instruments, we used a points system which measures instrument difficulty level (how hard it is to play well and march while doing so), instrument weight (how heavy or awkward it is to hold and play while marching) and instrument demand (flute is popular therefore it’s harder to land a spot as a flute player in a marching band due to competition).

For each variable, instruments receive a points possible amount of 2 meaning very difficult, heavy or in low demand. Scores of 1 mean in between, and scores of 0 mean low difficulty, lightness of the instrument and in high demand. (All of this is also spelled out next to each item’s score.)

The total points possible (what is the hardest instrument to learn) would receive a 6, but since the highest score our instruments received was a 4, we listed all of those instruments below. So what is the hardest instrument to play in a school band or other type of marching band? These are, according to our research. Their variable scores are also listed which can help determine why it received a 4. Our sources include articles from Spindity and Music at Hopkins.

But with lists like this, it’s important to keep in mind that the easiest and hardest instrument to play depends on the skill level of the musician. For example, strong saxophone players may not think a tenor saxophone is heavy at all, or experienced musicians may consider playing oboe no sweat. Some things can even come more naturally to beginners with no experience, so just because one person doesn’t agree with these stats doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

The success of certain marching band instruments also depends greatly on the type of musician. Most good clarinet players have a wide finger reach, while many flute players have thin lips. So if you want to play in a marching band, it’s best to find the instrument that best works for you. Experiment and try a new instrument if the first one doesn’t work out. (Reading about 6 Easiest Brass Instruments to Play in a Band might help too.)

Without further adieu, here’s our list of 7 hardest instruments to learn to play in a marching band. Enjoy!

7. Tuba

-difficulty level (the higher the score the harder it is to play well and march while doing so): 2

-weight (the higher the score the heavier or more awkward it is to hold and play while marching): 2

-competition level (the lower the score the higher demand of instrument players): 0

Total score: 4

You can tell just by looking at it that the tuba is one of the hardest brass instruments to play, much less while marching and staying in line with the band. Props to those who do.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

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6. Percussion

-difficulty level (the higher the score the harder it is to play well and march while doing so): 1

-weight (the higher the score the heavier or more awkward it is to hold and play while marching): 2

-competition level (the lower the score the higher demand of instrument players): 1

Total score: 4

This score on our list of hardest instruments to learn to play in a marching band includes all types of percussion instruments that are played in a marching band. And although there is no blowing required to play percussion, it does require a lot of focused attention to good rhythm.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

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5. Flute

-difficulty level (the higher the score the harder it is to play well and march while doing so): 1

-weight (the higher the score the heavier or more awkward it is to hold and play while marching): 1

-competition level (the lower the score the higher demand of instrument players): 2

Total score: 4

Flute seems like it’s a relatively mainstream band instrument, but that’s what makes it difficult because of the low demand for flute players in marching bands.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

Alenavlad/Shutterstock.com

4. Oboe

-difficulty level (the higher the score the harder it is to play well and march while doing so): 2

-weight (the higher the score the heavier or more awkward it is to hold and play while marching): 2

-competition level (the lower the score the higher demand of instrument players): 0

Total score: 4

If you’re an oboe player, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting to play in a marching band, but you might have trouble balancing the oboe and while playing the music and marching all at the same time.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

SpeedKingz/Shutterstock.com

3. Clarinet

-difficulty level (the higher the score the harder it is to play well and march while doing so): 1

-weight (the higher the score the heavier or more awkward it is to hold and play while marching): 1

-competition level (the lower the score the higher demand of instrument players): 2

Total score: 4

Players with fingers that can stretch far apart are ideal for the clarinet, the third on our list of 7 hardest instruments to learn to play in a marching band. But apparently it may be difficult to get into a marching band, so try an orchestra instead.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

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2. Alto Saxophone

-difficulty level (the higher the score the harder it is to play well and march while doing so): 1

-weight (the higher the score the heavier or more awkward it is to hold and play while marching): 1

-competition level (the lower the score the higher demand of instrument players): 2

Total score: 4

The saxophone is relatively easy to play, but relatively hard to play well. That’s why it’s on the list of hardest instruments to learn to play in a marching band. Nonetheless, beginner sax players often start with the alto saxophone.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

Pixabay/Public Domain

1. Tenor Saxophone

-difficulty level (the higher the score the harder it is to play well and march while doing so): 1

-weight (the higher the score the heavier or more awkward it is to hold and play while marching): 2

-competition level (the lower the score the higher demand of instrument players): 1

Total score: 4

The last marching band instrument on our list that received a score of 4, after the tenor saxophone, was the Baritone. Easier instruments with a score of 3 included the trumpet, French horn and trombone. Otherwise, that’s it for our list of 7 hardest instruments to learn to play in a marching band. Now you know what to stay away from if you want it a little easier.

7 Hardest Instruments to Learn to Play in a Marching Band

Pixabay/Public Domain