While it may seem like, in some senses, that music is music, you are not seeing the same kind of band every time. There are four different types of band in particular: marching, jazz, symphonic or concert, and orchestra.

But what is the difference between each type? How are they separate from one another and what do they each bring to the table?


An orchestra has classical music infused with pop arrangements. Typically, the orchestra is seated while a standing conductor leads them. The conductor “conducts” the music, giving it enhanced quality and direction.

There are generally four sections in an orchestra as well: woodwind, strings, brass, and percussion. These are the bands that typically play in larger halls and the affair is generally black tie.


These are more closely assimilated to the bands that we know. They usually perform on stage in front of the audience, though a good portion of symphonic or concert bands have classical music with a touch of popular music and marches.

Concert bands have three sections: woodwind, brass, and percussion. Within those instruments are subsets. So, brass would be French horn, tuba, trombone, and so on.

Marching Band

Marching bands are most common in high schools, though they are not limited to them. The marching band is just that: a uniformed band that marches in a specific order, sometimes creating patterns, while playing their music.

For the most part, we know bands from football games, schools, and parades. Marching bands do the national anthem, school fight songs, and other popular songs. They also typically include drums, trombone, sax, flute, and other common instruments.

Jazz band

Jazz bands play – you guessed it – jazz. They are also common in some schools as well. Jazz bands can be either large or small and exclusively play jazz music. You will find the common instruments – drums, trumpet, guitar, bass – but also a mix of trumpet, piano, sax, and other brass instruments.

There are more types of band out there but these are the most common iterations.