Musical Children in the Making

Activity of the Month

Families of Instruments and the Orchestra

Just like us, instruments have families too! In each family there are similarities, but they make a different sound. We will explore the four instruments families: Strings, Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion. The percussion and string families are most familiar to our students since we play percussion instruments every week and class, and most of our Kidstunes instructors bring a guitar or ukulele to class. Instrument families are categorized by how the sound is produced. 

Strings - Strings form the heart of a symphony orchestra, and while all of these instruments have strings some are plucked & some are bowed.  Examples of mostly bowed instruments include violin, viola, cello, and double bass.  The plucked instruments include guitar, banjo, harp, and ukulele. 

Woodwinds - Each woodwind has a long, tube-shaped air column and produce sound in three ways:  by blowing across a mouth hole (flute and piccolo), by using a single wooden reed (clarinet and saxophone), or by using a double reed (oboe and bassoon).  Pitch is controlled by the number of holes covered.

Brass- The brass family consists of the wind instruments made of brass.  All of the modern brass instruments, except the tr0mbone which uses a slide, have valves which route air through the tubing for specific distances to produce a particular pitch.  The brass instruments include trumpet, French horn, tuba, trombone, and baritone.

Percussion - This has the largest variety of instruments in the percussion family, and students will be most familiar with these since we use them in our classes each week.  They’re grouped together because they are all made to sound by striking, beating, or shaking.  Some of the most familiar members of this family are cymbals, triangle, maracas, bells, xylophone, tympani and of course drums!


Click on each individual instrument to hear its' sound: 

Hear and see the instruments and where they are placed in the orchestra on this interactive page