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Wind and Woodwind Instruments

The wind instruments in a band or orchestra consist of the flutes and woodwind instruments. They are played by blowing air through a pipe.

What are some members of the woodwind family?

There are many different woodwind instruments found in orchestras including:

  • Flutes: Flutes are usually about 2-feet long, and they are made of silver, gold, or platinum.
  • Piccolos: Often combined with the drum corp, this option is about 1-foot long. They are the highest-pitched member of the woodwind family.
  • Recorders-These have a flute mouthpiece, but they are otherwise a long piece of pipe.
  • Oboes- The oboe measures about 2-feet long with most being black pipes with metal keys, and it has a double reed.
  • Clarinets- Offering the largest pitch range of the common woodwinds, this woodwind has a straight barrel ending with a bell. The clarinet is a straight woodwind instrument with a flared bell at its end.
  • Bassoons- Generally producing deep, bass harmony notes, the bassoon is a doubled-over musical instrument with many keys.
What are some parts of woodwind instruments?

Most reed instruments share some common parts including:

  • Mouthpiece- Blowing air across this part causes it to make a sound.
  • Reed- Made of synthetic materials of Arundo donax, this part vibrates to make the musical sound.
  • Barrel- Generally located between the mouthpiece and the main part, give this part a turn to play in tune.
  • Bell- Often shaped like an upside-down cup, the bell is where the tune is emitted from a woodwind, and its shape and materials influence how loud the woodwind sounds.
  • Keys- These metal caps open and shut to create different pitches.
  • Spring- This is a metal part attaching the keys to the body. Springs also usually attach to flaps to ensure the hole closes completely.
What are some specialized wind instruments?

There are many different types of woodwinds played around the world including:

  • Bagpipes- Using enclosed reeds, this option is usually associated with Scotland or Ireland.
  • Irish flutes- This is a conical-bore musical instrument made of wood.
  • Tin whistles- Often associated with Celtic music, the six-hole tin whistle is considered to be the first pitched flute.
  • Crumhorns- While its size determines its pitch, crumhorns are double-capped reed musical instruments that make a buzzing sound.
  • Heckelphones- While it is shaped like an oboe, it plays an octave lower.
How do you choose musical instruments?

Selecting the right option is easy if you:

  • Play various types- Start by playing various choices or listening to them until you find the one that appeals to you the most.
  • Consider size- Many choices come in different sizes, so try the smaller ones too in case it's the right size for you.
  • Make your choice- Now, pick the instrument you like and enjoy it.
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