Band & Orchestra instruments taught at Drew Model School

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1 Band & Orchestra instruments taught at Drew Model School The String Family: The four major instruments in the string family, the violin, the viola, the cello and the double bass, are built the same way. The instruments are made of many pieces of wood, which are glued - never nailed - together. The body of the instrument is hollow, thus becoming a resonating box for the sound. Four strings, usually made of steel are wrapped around pegs at one end of the instrument and attached to a tailpiece at the other. They are stretched tightly across a bridge to produce their assigned pitches. Violin: The violin is the soprano voice in the string family. It is the smallest and most prominent instrument in the string family. It usually plays the melody (main part). It is held under the chin, on the left shoulder, and is bowed or plucked with the right hand. The violin has a lovely tone that can be soft and expressive or exciting and brilliant. Violin Viola Viola: The viola is the alto voice in the string family. Like the violin, it is held under the chin, resting on the shoulder. Unlike the violin, the viola is slightly larger and is tuned five notes lower. It has a darker and warmer tone quality than the violin, but is not as brilliant. Cello: The violoncello or cello is the tenor voice in the string family. While shaped like a violin, the cello is much larger and is held between the player s knees. Because it can produce beautiful sounds from its lowest to its highest notes, it is a popular instrument. String Bass: The string bass is the largest instrument in the string family. It can be taller than the player. The bass player has to stand up or sit on a stool to play the instrument. The bass has the lowest pitch in the string family. Because the bass is such a large instrument, the student s parent has to be willing to bring the instrument to school and pick it up on scheduled class days.

2 The Woodwind Family: All woodwind instruments are pipes with little holes in their sides. By covering the different holes on the instrument and blowing air into it, the instrument will produce different pitches. The woodwind instruments taught at school include the flute, clarinet, and saxophone. Each instrument has either a single-reed mouthpiece or a double-reed mouthpiece with the exception of the flute, which has no reed. Each instrument has a unique timbre, or tone color, which gives a particular feeling to a piece of music. Flute: Originally made of wood, the flute is now made from silver or gold and is about 2 feet in length. It looks like a narrow tube with a row of holes covered by keys along one side. The player blows air across the small hole in the mouthpiece to produce a sound that can be either soft and mellow or high and piercing. Clarinet: Made from wood, the clarinet produces a fluid sound when air is blown between a single reed and the mouthpiece. By pressing metal keys with the fingers of both hands, the player has the ability to play many different notes very quickly. Alto Saxophone: Conically shaped, the saxophone is the only woodwind instrument made of brass. Although it is found only occasionally in the symphony orchestra, it is considered a member of the woodwind family because it has a single reed like the clarinet.

3 The Brass Family: Brass family instruments produce their unique sound by the player buzzing his/her lips while blowing air through a cup - or funnel-shaped mouthpiece. To produce higher or lower pitches, the player adjusts the opening between his/her lips. The mouthpiece connects to a length of brass tubing ending in a bell. The shorter the tubing length, the smaller the instrument, and the higher the sound; and the longer the tubing length, the larger the instrument, and the lower the sound. The brass family can trace its ancestry back to herald trumpets, hunting horns, and military bugles. The main instruments of the brass family include the trumpet, horn, trombone, and tuba. Trumpet: The trumpet is the highest sounding member of the brass family. The brilliant tone of the trumpet travels through about six feet of tubing bent into an oblong shape. The player presses the three valves in various combinations with the fingers of the right hand to obtain various pitches. Trombone: The mouthpiece of the trombone is larger than that of a trumpet, and gives the instrument a more mellow sound. Instead of valves, the trombone has a slide, which changes the length of its approximately 9 feet of tubing to reach different pitches. Euphonium, Baritone & Tuba: The euphonium and baritone are very similar brass instruments. The baritone is a noticeably smaller cousin of the euphonium, playing at the same pitch but with a smaller range and less sonorous sound. Both are in the key of Bb and have either three or four valves. Both are played with a deep mouthpiece, similar to a trombone. The tuba is the largest and deepest voice of the brass instruments.

4 The Percussion Family: With a name that means, "the hitting of one body against another," instruments in the percussion family are played by being struck, shaken, or scraped. At this school, we focus on the bells and the snare drum. The students will focus on either the bells or the snare, but will be expected to learn both during their elementary experience. The Snare Drum and Practice Pad: The snare drum joined the orchestra nearly 200 years ago. It has two plastic drumheads stretched tightly over a hollow metal frame. The top head is struck with wooden drumsticks, and is called the batter-head. The bottom head, or snare-head has metal wires called snares stretched tightly across it. When this untuned drum is struck on the top head, the snares produce a characteristic sharp rattling sound as they vibrate against the bottom head. The students will be using a practice pad at home and school. Bell Set: The bells are a percussion instrument consisting of a set of metal bars, which are sounded by being struck with a hammer. Each bar produces a specific tone. The bars are arranged in the same manner as a piano keyboard, and thus the orchestra bells are fully chromatic. The range is from g to c'' and sounds two octaves higher than written.

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