Band & Orchestra
School band and orchestra instruments are divided into four categories: brass, woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Following is a brief look at each one.
Brass: Brass instruments make their sounds through the lip vibrations of the player, combined with the movements of a slide, in the case of trombones, or the opening and closing of valves, in all other brass instruments. Members of the brass family of instruments include the trombone, trumpet, cornet, French horn, euphonium (baritone horn) and tuba. Most of these instruments are easily transportable by students, though the tuba and euphonium may be too large for younger students to carry.
Woodwind: Woodwinds make their sounds through vibrating reeds in their mouthpieces while the player opens and closes valves to obtain specific notes. Woodwind instruments include the piccolo, flute, bassoon, saxophone, clarinet, and recorder. These instruments are generally smaller and easily transported by students while traveling to and from school or lessons.
For more information on maintaining brass and woodwind instruments, check out our previous article on that subject: https://makingmusicmag.com/versatile-musician-repair-tech-offers-maintenance-tips-for-woodwind-brass-players/
Strings: Stringed instruments make their sounds through vibrating strings which the player stops with one hand (the left if right-handed) and plays by either sliding a bow across the strings or plucking the strings with the other hand (the right if right-handed). Members of the string family of instruments include the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The violin and viola are easily transportable by younger students, while the cello and especially the bass may require a ride from mom or dad to get to and from school or lessons.
For more information on maintaining stringed instruments of the violin family, check out our previous article on that subject: https://makingmusicmag.com/long-time-luthier-offers-tips-on-violin-and-bow-maintenance/
Percussion: Percussion instruments’ sounds are made by striking them with the hands or a mallet/stick. This family of instruments include the snare, bass, timpani and other drums, cymbals, chimes, bells, xylophone, and marimba. These instruments are generally less transportable by students.
For more information on maintaining drums, check out our previous article on that subject: https://makingmusicmag.com/drummer-plays-collects-restores-ludwigs/
Most school choirs have four vocal parts. From highest to lowest they are:
Soprano: Sung by women; younger boys may sing soprano parts before their voices change.
Alto: Generally sung by women, but male countertenors may also sing alto parts.
Tenor: Generally sung by men, but women with lower voices may also be tenors.
Bass: Sung by men with voices in the lowest register.
[Photo credits: Orchestra photo courtesy Pixabay.com; photo of cellos by Tom Wanamaker.]
For more information on the benefits of music education for kids, please see our companion piece at: https://makingmusicmag.com/back-to-school-participation-in-school-band-orchestra-chorus-offers-countless-benefits-both-in-music-beyond/