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Music for Kids

Woodwind Instruments

Woodwinds are a type of musical instrument that make their sound when a musician blows air into or across the mouthpiece. They get their name from the fact that most of them were once made of wood. Today many are made of other materials such as metal or plastic.

oboe
The Oboe is a woodwind instrument


There are a lot of types of woodwinds including the flute, piccolo, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, bagpipes, and recorder. They all look somewhat similar in that they are all long tubes of various sizes with metal keys that cover the holes when played to make different notes. The bigger the woodwind instrument the lower the pitch sound they make.

Woodwinds can be divided up into two main types of instruments. Flute instruments and reed instruments. Flute instruments make sound when the musician blows air across an edge in the instrument while reed instruments have a reed, or two, that vibrate when the air is blown. We'll discuss this more in How Woodwinds Work.

Popular Woodwinds Woodwinds in the Orchestra

The symphony orchestra always has a large section of woodwinds. Depending on the size and type of orchestra, it will have 2-3 each of the flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. Then it will typically have 1 each of the piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet, and contrabassoon.

Woodwinds in Other Music

Woodwinds are not only used in symphony orchestra music. They play an important role in jazz music with the saxophone and clarinet being very popular. They are also widely used in marching bands and in various types of world music throughout the globe.

Fun Facts about Woodwinds

More on Woodwind Instruments: Other musical instruments:

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