Is the recorder a band instrument?

Is the recorder a band instrument? Introduction: Recorder belongs to the category of instruments known as internal duct flutes distinguished by the thumb-hole for the upper hand and seven finger holes, three designated for the upper hand and four for lower hand. The name recorder can be traced back to the 14th century where music students largely learned how to record music.

A band can simply be defined as a musical group playing music instruments specialized in a given genre in the open or while marching as the military does. Band instruments comprise of an ensemble of brass, percussions, strings and woodwind instruments played together in marching or open-air performances.

Band instruments

There are four families of instruments used in bands, namely brass instruments, percussion instruments, stringed instruments and woodwinds. In cases of a marching band, flutes, trumpets, bells and oboe stand in the same line. Alto sax and French horn players play together in their line. Tenor Sax, Bassoon, and Trombone play together in their own line. Bass Clarinet Saxophone and tuba will be in their own line. Let us look at these categories in detail as below:

Brass instruments

In this family, the instruments include trumpets, trombone, French horn, bugle and Cornet. They are made of brass or other metals and make sounds when the air is blown through them using lip techniques by the artist. The players may stand in different lines as earlier described above.


These are instruments that make sounds upon hitting for example drums and tambourine. The can also produce music by shaking, rubbing, scratching or any form of vibration. Others in this family include bells, triangle tam-tam just to name but a few.


The strings are the source of the sound by plucking for example guitar, harp, viola, cello, bass and violin.


Instruments that produce sound when the wind is blown inside or across an edge like the case of a flute. Woodwind instruments include flute, clarinet, recorder, bassoon and Oboe. Woodwinds are different from brass instruments mostly from the materials they are made of. There are two main categories of woodwinds namely flutes, (English horn, recorder and Clarinets) and reed pipe instruments like Oboe and bassoons. Most bands will have all these instruments played to improve on the quality of the melody.

Is a recorder therefore a band instrument?

The answer to this question is found in the family of woodwinds that form part of the 4 categories or families of band instruments in use. A recorder is a real instrument that can be used in the band same way as a flute, clarinet, bassoon and oboe. The recorder is a simple instrument that has been largely used by music learners for a long time. What a flute can do in a band can be done comfortably by a recorder given that they are all woodwinds of the flute family.

The distinguishing feature largely is the positioning of the holes for the various fingers and the materials they are made of. Most recorders are made of plastic or ivory. There are various recorder categories ranging from soprano to contrabass separated by an octave as one move to the next category. For example Soprano, alto and tenor are separated by an octave meaning soprano is an octave higher than alto which is an octave above tenor.

Since recorders belong to the woodwinds family of the band instruments, it is on this basis that I conclude that recorders are band instruments. Most bands will play woodwind instruments like flutes, Oboe, Clarinets, Alto, Tenor and recorder together in some cases one or two more.