Concert Band vs. Symphonic Band

What's the Difference?

Concert Band and Symphonic Band are both ensembles that consist of wind, brass, and percussion instruments. However, there are some key differences between the two. Concert Band typically refers to a smaller ensemble that performs a wide range of musical styles, including marches, overtures, and concert pieces. It is often composed of intermediate-level musicians and is commonly found in middle schools and high schools. On the other hand, Symphonic Band is a larger and more advanced ensemble that performs more complex and challenging repertoire. It is often found in colleges, universities, and professional settings. Symphonic Band typically focuses on performing symphonic works, such as symphonies, suites, and tone poems. Overall, while both Concert Band and Symphonic Band share similarities in instrumentation, their size, level of difficulty, and repertoire choices set them apart.


AttributeConcert BandSymphonic Band
SizeVaries, typically smallerVaries, typically larger
InstrumentationStandard wind and percussion instrumentsExpanded wind and percussion sections
RepertoireWide range of musical stylesMore complex and challenging repertoire
Performance VenueConcert halls, auditoriums, outdoor venuesConcert halls, auditoriums, outdoor venues
ConductorConducts and leads the ensembleConducts and leads the ensemble
Performance FrequencyRegular performancesRegular performances
Level of DifficultyVaries, typically intermediate to advancedVaries, typically advanced
Ensemble DynamicsVaries, depending on the compositionVaries, depending on the composition

Further Detail


Concert band and symphonic band are two popular ensembles in the world of instrumental music. While they share many similarities, they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of both concert band and symphonic band, highlighting their differences and similarities.


One of the primary differences between concert band and symphonic band lies in their instrumentation. Concert bands typically consist of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. The woodwind section includes instruments such as flutes, clarinets, oboes, and bassoons. The brass section comprises trumpets, trombones, French horns, and tubas. Percussion instruments like timpani, snare drums, and cymbals add rhythmic elements to the ensemble.

Symphonic bands, on the other hand, have a broader range of instruments. In addition to the woodwind, brass, and percussion sections found in concert bands, symphonic bands often include string instruments like violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. This expanded instrumentation allows symphonic bands to perform a wider repertoire, including transcriptions of orchestral works.


Both concert bands and symphonic bands perform a diverse range of musical styles. Concert bands typically focus on compositions specifically written for the ensemble. Their repertoire includes original works for concert band, marches, overtures, and other pieces tailored to the unique characteristics of the instrumentation.

Symphonic bands, on the other hand, have the advantage of being able to perform transcriptions of orchestral works. This means they can tackle symphonies, tone poems, and other large-scale compositions originally written for a full orchestra. Symphonic bands often strive to recreate the grandeur and complexity of orchestral music, adapting it to their unique instrumentation.

Performance Settings

Concert bands and symphonic bands can be found performing in various settings. Concert bands are commonly associated with school and community performances. They often perform in concert halls, school auditoriums, and outdoor venues during parades or festivals. Concert bands are also a staple in educational institutions, providing students with an opportunity to develop their musical skills and perform in a group setting.

Symphonic bands, on the other hand, are more commonly associated with professional ensembles and higher-level educational institutions. They often perform in prestigious concert halls and are featured in music festivals and conferences. Symphonic bands are known for their polished performances and their ability to tackle challenging repertoire.

Conductor's Role

The role of the conductor in concert band and symphonic band is crucial for achieving a cohesive and expressive performance. In concert bands, the conductor's primary responsibility is to ensure ensemble balance, dynamics, and precision. They guide the musicians through the music, shaping the interpretation and bringing out the best in each section.

In symphonic bands, the conductor's role expands to encompass a broader range of responsibilities. They must navigate the complexities of the expanded instrumentation, balancing the different sections and ensuring the integration of the strings with the woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The conductor's interpretation and ability to convey the nuances of the music become even more critical in symphonic bands.

Level of Difficulty

Both concert bands and symphonic bands perform music of varying levels of difficulty. Concert bands often cater to a wide range of skill levels, including beginner and intermediate musicians. This allows them to perform accessible repertoire that challenges the musicians while still being achievable.

Symphonic bands, on the other hand, tend to attract more advanced musicians. The expanded instrumentation and the inclusion of string instruments require a higher level of technical proficiency and musicality. Symphonic bands often tackle complex compositions that demand virtuosity and a deep understanding of the music.


While concert band and symphonic band share similarities in terms of instrumentation and repertoire, they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. Concert bands typically have a narrower instrumentation and focus on compositions specifically written for the ensemble. Symphonic bands, on the other hand, have a broader range of instruments and can perform transcriptions of orchestral works. The performance settings, the role of the conductor, and the level of difficulty also differ between the two ensembles. Both concert band and symphonic band offer unique opportunities for musicians to come together and create beautiful music, enriching the world of instrumental music.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.