Many people think that instruments in the violin family are perhaps the most sensitive of all musical instruments. They have been around since... well almost forever. The violin is particularly well suited for many younger students because it is light weight and is available in small sizes.
The violin is played by setting it on the left shoulder and supporting the end of it's neck with your left hand. Once you secure the violin in place by affectionately pressing your left cheek against it, you can grab the bow with your right hand and fiddle away. The violin's intimate and passionate sound helps many children express their feelings through music. The violin is especially popular in the classical music genre.
Flutes made out of wood are known to have existed for centuries in ancient civilizations all over the world - from Africa to Hawaii, from Europe to the Andes Mountains of South America. The natural (almost spiritual) tone produced by a flute soothes the human heart like no other musical instrument.
In 1847 German inventor Theobald Boehm designed the modern flute which is made of beautiful sparkling silver and other precious metals. Mr. Boehm's improvements included adding all the keys necessary to play our modern scales. The flute is played by holding it up high to the right side and blowing a controlled stream of air across and into the mouthpiece. After blowing out it is important to remember to breath back in deeply so that you do not get dizzy!
The modern wooden clarinet with a full chromatic scale has been around since the mid 1800's, but a primitive version was originally invented by Johann Denner in 1690. Today's "student" clarinets which are relatively easy to blow are made of a durable black composite resin plastic with shiny nickle-silver keys. The top of the clarinet has a mouthpiece that you attach a thin wooden reed to. To make a sound you put your mouth around the mouthpiece and blow.
The clarinet has enjoyed tremendous popularity over the years because it has a playful tone that many people really enjoy and the clarinet very often plays the lead melody parts in band and orchestral compositions. In fact, because of it's totally fun tone you will sometimes hear the sound of a clarinet being played in cartoons!
The saxophone was invented around 1840 by Adolphe Sax and was first played in Paris, France; where it was intended to be used in the classical orchestra. The sound of a saxophone has been described as having the beauty of a violin with the strength of brass instruments and is perhaps the most versatile musical instrument ever created.
Saxophones are being played in nearly every style of music that exists in the world today - from classical to jazz, from reggae to rock, from blues to rhythm & blues. In school bands the saxophone plays harmonies and blends well with the other instruments, but in rock and jazz bands the saxophone stands out as a featured instrument with many solos and lead parts.
The saxophone is a relatively large and heavy instrument that must be held up with both hands to the player's right side. It is played by blowing air into and across a reeded mouthpiece. Saxophones are closely related to clarinets in that they have the same type of mouthpiece and they share many of the same fingerings. Most musicians feel that the saxophone rivals the human voice in it's expressive ability and therefore is one of the very best solo musical instruments.
Trumpets have a long, long history going all the way back to ancient biblical times. The modern Bb trumpet (valve cornet) was introduced by Heinrich Stolzel in Berlin around 1830. The trumpet has a naturally aggressive sound that even in today's concert and jazz bands is often used to represent strength and power.
The trumpet requires strong lips, takes a good amount of air to blow and demands regular oiling, greasing and cleaning by the player in order to keep it functioning properly. The trumpet is a great instrument to choose for any young person who likes loud and powerful sounds!
The trombone is a BIG instrument that is especially well-suited for children with lots of air, full lips and long arms. The slide trombone has been around pretty much in its present form since way back in the 1400's. Unlike many other musical instruments, it was built "correctly" right from the start and so has never needed to be redesigned! Teachers love it when young students choose the trombone because "low brass" instruments make a school band or orchestra sound great!!
Thank you to Portman's Music of Georgia for the musical instrument maintenance videos.