Music Discovery

What is an Orchestra?

What is an Orchestra?

An orchestra is a group musicians playing music together and usually involves up to four groups of instruments: Strings, Brass, Woodwinds, and Percussion. The first western music orchestras appeared around 1600 when composer, Claudio Monteverdi wrote music with specific instruments in mind. Orchestral music and instruments have evolved over the years, but everyone can agree, orchestras make some amazing music.

A conductor leads an orchestra in performance and interpretation of a piece of music. Conductors will show emphasis of the musical pulse with cues and patterns.

The concertmaster is the leader of the first violin section in an orchestra and the instrument-playing leader of the orchestra. After the conductor, the concertmaster is the second-most significant leader in an orchestra, symphonic band or other musical ensemble.

Lead Oboe
The lead oboe player plays an “A” note that all the other musicians tune (adjust) their instruments to match. 

Instrument Families
Strings - String family instruments are any instruments that use vibrating strings to create their sound.

Woodwinds - The woodwind family instruments make sound when a musician’s air or a reed vibrates.

Brass - In the brass family, sound is made when the musician buzzes, or vibrates, their lips into the mouthpiece of their instrument.

Percussion - Percussion family instruments make sound when the instrument is shaken or hit, causing a surface on the instrument to vibrate.

Where do the instruments sit in an orchestra?

Instrument Examples:
Orchestra Instruments

Band Instruments

Music Reading, Ear Training, and Theory
Musical Games and Composition
Digital Instruments
Science of Sound

What is Sound?

What are Sound Waves?
Sound waves are longitudinal waves that travel through a medium like air or water. When we think about sound, we often think about how loud it is (amplitude, or intensity) and its pitch (frequency).

Play with Sound Waves

What are Harmonics?
Harmonics are a series of overtones resulting when the frequencies are exact multiples of the fundamental frequency. The frequencies of the upper harmonics form simple ratios with the frequency of the first harmonic (e.g., 2:1, 3:1, 4:1).

Play with Harmonics

Build a Popsicle Stick Harmonica 

Practice Tools
Orchestral Performances