The first thing the boy tried was flute, and he did okay. He got a 5. He had a hard time holding his mouth the right way to make the sound come out (the instructors did provide a lot of tips on mouth position and whatnot, so the kids weren't flying completely blind).
The next things he tried were the oboe and the bassoon. He actually did really well and got 8s for both. I was very impressed! I had always assumed they were hard to play because the reed looks so funky, but he got a really nice sound out of both of them. (As an aside, I had no idea a bassoon was so HUGE! I think it would have come up to at least his chin if he were standing.)
Next we went to the brass table, where he was able to try a trumpet, a French horn, a trombone, and a baritone/euphonium. He did okay on the trumpet (a 5), which was the instrument he had been leaning toward up to that point, but he got 7s on the rest of them, I think, and kind of fell in love with the baritone. He really liked the deep, low sound it made.
After that we went to the percussion table. Percussion is VERY competitive -- a lot of kids want to do it, and there are only 12 slots for incoming sixth graders. I could tell the boy wasn't super happy with his performance, but he really did great and got a 9 out of 10! Very exciting!
At that point there were only three instruments he hadn't tried -- clarinet, saxophone and tuba. The clarinet and saxophone were at the same table, so we got in line and waited. And waited. And waited. Holy crap, that was a long/slow line. The instructor there turned out to be one of the other band directors, and he was really great when it came to showing the kids how to position their mouths and blow and whatnot. They started on just the mouthpiece, which he then attached to the instrument and played scales or a little tune while the kids blew, so it actually sounded like they were playing something.
Unfortunately, the boy had had just about enough by this point. The gym was really noisy, as you can imagine, and as people finished and left the air conditioning got really cold and was blowing kind of forcefully through the vents. So he was in sensory overload pretty much, making the vocalizations he makes when he's feeling really auditory defensive and dealing with the cold wind from the air conditioners. I tried to talk him through it and spent a lot of time applying deep pressure to his neck, shoulders and back, which tends to calm him. He had his hands over his ears the whole time we were in that line. Oy.
Anyway, he finally got up there and tried the clarinet. And he sounded great! I think he got an 8. He tried the sax but wasn't getting quite enough air, I don't think. I can't remember but I think maybe he got a 7 on that one. He asked to try the flute again since it was the first one he had tried, and he got a much better sound out of it this time.
So finally, we were down to the last instrument -- tuba. At this point the boy was leaning heavily toward the baritone as his instrument of choice. He sat down, tried the tuba, and fell in love. I think he liked the baritone up to that point because it was the deepest one he had tried, tone-wise, but of course the tuba is even deeper and he really loved it. Once he figured out how to blow, he got a really nice sound out of it.
So, the next step was to visit with the band director, but the line was long and we decided to step out of the gym and walk the halls for a bit to give the boy a break. We found the drinking fountain, admired some murals, etc. and then went back and got in line. When it was our turn to meet with the band director, she looked at his ratings sheet and then used her laptop to pull up the scores from a music aptitude test the boy had taken a couple of weeks ago. She excitedly declared him "musically gifted" and told him his score was 95 out of 100! He scored 100 in lots of the sub-categories, apparently (pitch and melody are the two I remember, but there were more) and his lowest score was an 87 in I think syncopation? Or something? She explained that it involved following a beat. The boy can KEEP a beat really well, but following a beat that changes takes a whole heck of a lot of auditory processing skill. Still, 87 doesn't suck, so yay boy child!
(This is where I insert a huge mom brag, because hey! My boy is musically gifted! We always thought so, but neither DH nor I possess a whole lot of natural talent in that area. In fact, I myself possess NONE. I am tone deaf. That band-joining I mentioned up there in the first paragraph? Yeah, I got kicked out a couple of weeks later for lack of talent. I always thought it was amazing that the boy could sit at the piano and just make something up and have it sound like a real song by an actual composer, but for all I knew everyone who wasn't me could do that. So it was really neat to have an objective measure of his aptitude and skill in this area, and to have confirmation that he really is talented. Preen, preen.)
ANYWAY. The boy said he was in love with the tuba and the band director was thrilled. I guess they don't hear that a lot about the tuba. So while a lot of kids have to wait a couple of weeks to hear what they get to play, since they only have a certain number of slots for each instrument, the boy was told he could play tuba for sure. The school will issue him one for home and one to keep at school, so he won't have to carry it back and forth. He is so excited!
I am excited for him, but holy crap, he is going to have to practice that thing IN MY HOUSE. Time to buy some earplugs!