Did you know that band directors can often tell which students will drop out of band by looking at the quality and condition of the instruments that they're using? Why is that?
It's because an instrument that is difficult to play or won't perform properly is a huge discouragement to beginning musicians. Like anyone learning a new skill, a beginner can find it challenging to make the first sounds. The instrument used during the first few months of study is critical in determining the success or failure of a young musician.
Beginners are learning the basics of making the notes, so beginner clarinets typically don't have the features to produce a high-quality tone. Beginner instruments are designed for early use and gratification for the student.
By the end of the first year of musical study, a student is already outgrowing their beginner instrument both physically and musically. A musician's instrument should grow with them. This means it's time to step up to a more advanced, higher-quality instrument that will complement their developing music skills.
You may be wondering, "How advanced of an instrument is needed at this stage of musical study?" Step-up saxophones are available in four levels: intermediate, performer, and top-line.
Most intermediate saxophones are constructed with an annealed bell for better response and tone color. They also include power-forged keys with a clear lacquer for a more attractive finish. The high F# key extends the range for advancing players. Intermediate horns also include an adjustable thumb rest which adds more comfort for the player.
Performer and top-line saxophones are constructed with an annealed bell, body, and bow which provides the highest level of response and tone color. In addition to the features included on intermediate models, these horns also include mother of pearl finger buttons, blued steel springs, and a detachable bell. Performer and top-line saxophones receive the maximum amount of attention in adjustment, resulting in the best response and intonation available.