Working towards optimum instrumentation
It is an easy trap to recruit based on the instruments available in your institution, rather than working towards an optimum instrumentation. If you don’t already own sufficient numbers of key instruments such as viola, cello, double bass (strings) or bass clarinet, baritone sax, horn, euphonium and tuba (concert band), you need to have a plan to acquire them over time. Depending on budgeting restrictions, this acquisition process may need to be planned over a relatively long period. Having good instrumentation requires financial support. It should be self-evident that it is important to have your school administration and music parents on board with your view about good instrumentation. Effective advocacy for the importance of balance is a vital aspect of successful recruiting.
Some programs own all the instruments for first year learners. Students who own their own instrument tend to show much greater commitment. Many programs require students on flute, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone, trumpet, and trombone to purchase their own instrument from the very beginning. Other programs require student acquisition of these instruments after the first year. It is typical for more expensive instruments such as bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, bassoon, horn, euphonium, and tuba to be provided by the school. And then there are programs that start with a more limited instrumentation with an aim to switch students to other instruments in subsequent years. In strings, for example, switching to viola from violin, and to double bass from cello is common. In the winds other common switches include clarinet, sax or flute to double reed (oboe, bassoon); alto or tenor sax to baritone sax, clarinet to bass clarinet; and trumpet, trombone to horn, euphonium or tuba. In some cases programs require intending saxophone players to start on clarinet and intending percussionists to have a piano background. Many possible scenarios can be effective with a carefully managed plan that reflects your philosophy.