As the first piccolo player, I have often been asked this question, and several variations. I am held responsible for something that is out of the conscious control of any human being – I cannot regulate sound frequencies, especially when they’re so damn high and squeaky like most the piccolos in my section. Marching band has become a nightmare since the number of piccolos has increased over the years. When I arrived as a tiny freshman, there were two. This has gone up regularly since then. During my sophomore year, my high school catered to four piccolos, and then five my junior year. During my final season, the number had increased to seven piccolos, all placed in my care and responsibility.

The tuner became our best friend. We would spend ten minutes of every rehearsal trying to get just two of us in tune. The rest of the three hours we spent trying to cover up the horrible wavy sound spreading across the field as we marched.

However, I did meet someone during my junior year who was able to match pitch with me exactly. It was incredibly uncanny, and damn right scary sometimes. How did we do it? I can’t answer that question. It must have been the result of some soul sister kindred spirit relationship beyond our control.

My suggestion is to find someone who plays piccolo, and ask who her favorite person is. Over the next several years, persuade this favorite person of hers to master the art of playing the afore mentioned instrument, and then have the two people meet unexpectedly in some far off place with amazing acoustics and sound projection. Then have the two play a concert second octave A without warming up first. The sound, I assure you, will be breathtaking.

Of course, there are several jokes that pertain to this question. The most common are as follows:

How do you get two piccolos to play in tune?

  • Shoot one
  • Kill one
  • Shoot them both to put everyone out of their misery

And we cannot forget the infamous line used in every band camp ever invented:

Is that a piccolo in your pocket, are are you just happy to see me?

It's just a piccolo, son. Sorry.


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