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Concert Band vs. Symphonic Band: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 19, 2024
A concert band is a large ensemble of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments, while a symphonic band includes these with a broader range and often more complex compositions.

Key Differences

A concert band typically comprises a diverse mix of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments, focusing on a variety of music styles, from classical to contemporary. A symphonic band, while also including these instruments, often performs more complex and sophisticated compositions, similar to those played by symphony orchestras.
In a concert band, the music played is often more accessible and can include arrangements of popular music, marches, and traditional band repertoire. In contrast, a symphonic band leans towards more challenging pieces that may include adaptations of orchestral compositions, demanding a higher level of technical proficiency from its musicians.
The size of a concert band can vary greatly, but it generally has a larger and more flexible instrumentation compared to smaller ensembles. A symphonic band typically features a more extensive range of instruments and may have a larger number of musicians, similar to an orchestra, to accommodate the complexity of the pieces performed.
Concert bands are common in educational settings like schools and universities and are known for their versatility in style and repertoire. Symphonic bands are often seen in professional or advanced academic settings, where the focus is on delivering high-caliber performances of complex symphonic works.
The conductor of a concert band might emphasize educational aspects, skill development, and enjoyment of music. In contrast, conducting a symphonic band often involves a focus on advanced techniques, interpretative skills, and a deeper understanding of complex musical compositions.

Comparison Chart


Woodwind, brass, percussion
Woodwind, brass, percussion with more complex range

Music Complexity

Accessible, varied styles
More complex, often orchestral-level compositions

Size and Instrumentation

Variable size, flexible instrumentation
Larger size, extensive instrumentation

Typical Setting

Educational institutions, community events
Professional settings, advanced academic programs

Conductor's Focus

Educational aspects, skill development, enjoyment
Advanced techniques, interpretation of complex works

Concert Band and Symphonic Band Definitions

Concert Band

A group that often includes amateur and student musicians.
The concert band, comprising students and hobbyists, gave an impressive performance.

Symphonic Band

An ensemble that often parallels the musical range of a symphony orchestra.
Their symphonic band has gained acclaim for its interpretations of classical symphonies.

Concert Band

A musical ensemble featuring woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.
The concert band thrilled the audience with a dynamic march performance.

Symphonic Band

A group that typically features highly skilled, often professional musicians.
The symphonic band, composed of professional musicians, delivered an exceptional performance.

Concert Band

A versatile group performing a wide range of musical styles.
Our concert band excels in everything from jazz to classical pieces.

Symphonic Band

An ensemble known for its technical proficiency and sophisticated sound.
The symphonic band impressed the audience with its technical mastery and rich sound.

Concert Band

An ensemble common in schools and community settings.
The local concert band plays at various community events throughout the year.

Symphonic Band

An ensemble similar to a concert band but with a focus on more complex compositions.
The symphonic band's rendition of the orchestral suite was breathtaking.

Concert Band

A large ensemble that focuses on educational and recreational music making.
The high school concert band showcased their talents at the annual spring concert.

Symphonic Band

A large musical group performing advanced symphonic works.
The university's symphonic band is known for its challenging and diverse repertoire.


What is a Symphonic Band?

A symphonic band is similar to a concert band but often includes more instruments and performs more complex and varied repertoire.

What instruments are common in a Concert Band?

Woodwinds (flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons), brass (trumpets, trombones, horns, tubas), and percussion.

Are string instruments part of a Symphonic Band?

No, symphonic bands generally do not include string instruments, unlike orchestras.

What is the typical size of a Concert Band?

Usually between 40 to 70 musicians, but it can vary.

What types of music do Concert Bands play?

They play a wide range, from classical transcriptions to contemporary wind literature and popular music.

How does a Concert Band differ from an Orchestra?

A concert band lacks string sections and focuses more on wind and percussion instruments.

Do Symphonic Bands participate in competitions?

Yes, especially at the high school and college levels.

What is a Concert Band?

A concert band is a large ensemble of wind and percussion instruments typically performing in concert settings.

Does a Symphonic Band have a conductor?

Yes, symphonic bands are typically led by a conductor.

Are Symphonic Bands professional or amateur?

They can be both. Some are professional groups, while others are community or school-based.

Is marching band music part of the Concert Band repertoire?

Not typically; concert bands focus more on sit-down concert settings.

Is sight-reading important for Symphonic Band musicians?

Yes, the ability to read music well is crucial for symphonic band members.

Do Concert Bands have solo performances?

Occasionally, concert bands feature soloists, either from within their ranks or guest artists.

Are there famous Symphonic Bands?

Yes, like the Eastman Wind Ensemble and the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra.

What's the difference in repertoire between Concert and Symphonic Bands?

Symphonic bands often play more challenging and varied pieces, including original works for winds.

Can a Symphonic Band play classical music?

Yes, they often play classical pieces arranged for wind ensemble.

What is the role of percussion in a Concert Band?

Percussion provides rhythm, texture, and color to the band's sound.

Are there youth Symphonic Bands?

Yes, many schools and youth organizations have symphonic bands for young musicians.

How often do Concert Bands rehearse?

It varies, but typically once or twice a week for community bands and more frequently for professional groups.

Can anyone join a Concert Band?

Many community bands are open to all skill levels, while professional bands require auditions.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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