When is it Time to Step up to a Professional Instrument?

Stepping up


When is it time to step up to a professional model instrument?

If you or your student are  considering an intermediate or professional model instrument, you probably have a lot of questions: What is a step-up instrument? How do I know when I'm ready for a professional instrument? What are my options? How will a step-up instrument affect my playing? How much will it cost?

Stepping up to a professional instrument is an exciting moment in a student’s playing journey. It is also one that should be approached methodically and carefully so that the student ends up with the right instrument.

This post is part of an ongoing series which will answer all of your questions about stepping up to an intermediate or professional model instrument. In this week’s post, we will be talking about what a step-up instrument is and how to tell if you are ready for one.

What is a step-up instrument?

Professional and intermediate or “step-up” instruments offer players an instrument which is a step up from the model they are currently playing on. Step-up instruments are distinguished from student models by the higher quality of their materials and the high level of care and attention afforded to their design.

Professional instruments also offer extra features to upgrade and facilitate playing. Professional flutes often have a split E mechanism or C# trill key to facilitate these notes and trills. Professional clarinets are typically wooden, as opposed to plastic student models. Professional trumpets have the option of a reverse leadpipe. Many professional trombones have an F attachment which allows players to more easily reach a low F.

Am I ready for a step-up instrument?



The fact that you clicked on this post means that a step-up instrument is worth considering! There are, however, many factors to consider when upgrading your instrument. Follow these tips to help you make the decision. 

  • Ask a teacher  A band director or private teacher spends a lot of time listening to you and will be able to discern whether it is time to make the step up to a professional model. 

  • Try some out!  Trying out intermediate or pro models is the best way to tell if a step up is right for you. By figuring out how a professional model looks, feels, and sounds, you will be able to know whether it is the right fit!

  • Think ahead  How much time are you spending practicing and rehearsing? What are your plans going forward in high school, college, and beyond? Are you taking care of the instrument you already have? What type of music do you like to perform? These questions will all help determine if it makes sense for you to step up and can also help you to decide which model to choose.

Now that you understand what a step-up model is and how to know if one is right for you, you are well on your way to making the step up to a pro instrument! Next week, we’ll discuss how to find the best step-up instrument for you and how to not let the cost of your dream instrument stop you from making the step up.