‘Overhead Bin’ Instruments

When it comes to learning to play an instrument, most people choose to start with the piano. I don’t blame them. The possibilities that the piano provides is incredible: It is the only instrument (the harp could also come close to it) that can play a transcribed version of a symphony therefore can accompany any other instruments of the orchestra. The piano is the only instrument that is required in conservatories as a second instrument for players of other instruments because of its polyphonic (multi-voice) nature which provides a better understanding of the music theory.

The disadvantage of the piano is in its immobility. Pianists are bound to go wherever they can find a piano to practice on. And before performances, they have to meet the new instrument they are facing and adjust themselves according to the capacity of the piano.

Now if you wished you could take your instrument wherever you went, which options would you have? Which instruments could you play?

We can divide the instruments into categories such as:

  1. Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar)
  2. Woodwind (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone)
  3. Brass (Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba)
  4. Percussion (Timpani, Percussion, Marimba, Harp, Piano) (Yes, the modern piano is a percussion instrument. The historical pianos (clavichord, harpsichord) were plucked  instruments.)

Now let’s talk about the mobility of the above instruments in terms of taking them as a carry-on on an airplane. You need to buy an extra seat for a full-size cello in an airplane. The full-size double bass is too big to fit on a cabin seat. The piano and the harp are of course out of question. The tuba depends upon the size of its carrying case. If it doesn’t fit into the seat, it won’t be allowed in the cabin. All the rest of the instruments can be placed in an airplane either in the overhead bin or on a passenger seat. This is the safest way you can carry your instrument while traveling with a plane.

(Please notice that I mentioned “full-size” often. That’s because most of the orchestral instruments also have smaller sizes available for small children. For example a 4 year-old child would play a violin that is a “1/16” violin which is very small in order to fit their height and arm length.)

How early can your child start playing these instruments? That is the topic of next week’s blog.

Until then,

Stay musically…


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