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Musical Instruments - Percussion, String, Brass and Woodwind

Changing seasons bring a variety of local and migratory birds to Tricia Deed's backyard which allows her do bird watching with ease.

Performing Orchestra

An orchestra playing in an evening performance before the public.

An orchestra playing in an evening performance before the public.

Kindergarten Music

Do you remember making sounds or singing in kindergarten? The teacher played the piano while the students pounded on percussion instruments which they made in craft class. Not every student pounded out the correct rhythm. There were students that just enjoyed banging and making noise.

In kindergarten the teacher handed you items that made booming, loud, or noisy sounds. These were the drums, bells, triangles, and tambourines. In the first grade you may have played with these same instruments or maybe a simple handmade drum constructed from a can. .

As you advanced through the public school grades and discovered that you enjoyed music, you may have made a decision to play in the school band.

For those students who enjoy music, parents do help their children by funding a musical education with private instructors or attending a private school of music.

For many of us music is around us from before birth, during our childhood, and continuing into the adult world.

Music and the Brain

The world of sound is available to us from conception. It has been tried and proven by scientific research that the unborn infant can learn music in the womb from the great masters before entering our earthly world announcing their arrival with a loud vocal cry.

Music is not only pleasurable, but it also stimulates and awakens brain waves. Creating sounds or music is as essential as reading and mathematics. Music is a part of our vital being.

A Drum Set

Keep rhythm with drum beats.

Keep rhythm with drum beats.

Percussion Instruments

A percussion instrument as I know it is one that you strike with an object or your fingers or shake.

Most drum sets are beaten with sticks. The drums which I learned in order to understand rhythms was played with my hands. Another instrument which is struck with fingers is the piano.

Percussion instruments include:

  • Piano
  • Xylophone
  • Drums/cymbals
  • Bells/chimes
  • Tambourine
  • Triangles

I have always been told that the importance of the percussion instrument is to help musicians maintain the correct beat or timing of the musical piece.

A Stringed Instrument

Electrical guitars are popular stringed instruments.

Electrical guitars are popular stringed instruments.

Stringed Instruments

What are stringed instruments? Stringed instruments are those which produce vibrations from their strings. Every culture around the world has stringed instruments and they have their individual names.

The vibrations are created by plucking the strings, strumming across the strings, or picking the strings with a plastic tool known as the "pick".

In the American school system the most popular instrument which students begin playing is the violin. Other stringed instruments which are popular include the guitar, banjo, fiddle, harp, and ukulele.

Smaller stringed instruments are easy to transport and easy to hold unto. Because of their smallness they are very popular at party events. The strings of these instruments are usually made of metal and therefore the fingers of the player must develop callouses on their fingertips.

These callouses will develop with short frequent practicing on a daily basis.Musicians who love to play these instruments feel that their callouses are their earned badge of courage and devotion for playing.


The Trumpet

A brass trumpet.

A brass trumpet.

Brass Instruments

Brass instruments are made of metal including the mouth piece. The musician blows into the mouth piece using tense lips to release air into the instrument. The musician presses valves or uses a slider to release air to produce the desired pitch.

Brass instruments include:

  • Trumpet/Cornet and Trombone may have valves or a slide bar
  • Bugle
  • French horn
  • Tuba

It is difficult to say if brass instruments are harder or easier than woodwind instruments. The difficulty or ease is determined by individual players.

The Flute

A young girl playing a flute.

A young girl playing a flute.

Woodwind Instruments

Woodwind instruments have a wooden reed in the mouthpiece of the instrument. As the air being blown by the musician passes by the reed, the musician taps keys to release different sound pitches.

Woodwind instruments include:

  • Flute
  • Saxophone
  • Clarinet
  • Bassoon
  • Oboe
  • Piccolo
  • Recorder
  • Accordion (has reeds)

Summary: Brass instruments are made of brass (particularly the mouth piece). Woodwind instruments have a wood piece in the mouth piece called a reed. Both of these instrument categories are now being made with polymers or plastic.

Visual Graph of Sound Waves

A photo of electronic waves.  producing musical sounds.

A photo of electronic waves. producing musical sounds.

Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument

The world of sound is available to us from conception. It has been tried and proven by scientific research that the unborn infant can learn music in the womb from the great masters before entering our earthly world announcing their arrival with a loud vocal cry.

Music is not only pleasurable, but it also stimulates and awakens brain waves. Creating sounds or music is as essential as reading and mathematics. Music is a part of our vital being.

As I do my research no one really knows when music started, so my opinion is that music has been in existence as long as man used his voice. Hands were probably the first percussion instrument.

Listening, playing, chanting, singing, or dancing to or with musical instruments share many of the same benefits.

  • Improves memory
  • Improves coordination
  • Relaxing
  • Healing properties to relieve stress and more
  • Assists meditation
  • Refines focusing and concentration
  • mental discipline
  • Builds confidence
  • Helps with socializing and communication
  • Activates and heightens creativity and imagination

I have found the above list to be true to my experiences and you are probably able to think of other benefits which you have discovered being surrounded by music or playing an instrument.

Instrument Families

Choice of Musical Instrument

Welcome Comments, Suggestions, and Questions

Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on May 10, 2014:

(Sigh)....I love to sing. Now and then, I sing in gatherings, and I was part of my high school glee club. My frustration is that I can't play an instrument. I've always dreamed of knowing how to play the piano and flute.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on September 04, 2013:

This is a great lesson for parents. My vocal instrument is similar to yours. :) I also play clarinet, which I've returned to as an adult after over 40 years away from it. It isn't as easy to learn to play as an adult, but I'm glad I developed music appreciation as a child. Wish I would have done even more with my children with music when they were young. Great read - thanks!

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