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Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie

Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie
Today’s post is from Guest Contributor Abigail Mettrey. Scroll down to learn more and find her site.

Let’s jump into an interactive music experience with this freebie mini-course, “Introduction to the Orchestra”! This resource is the perfect way to introduce students to the instrument families within an orchestra, as well as explore the unique aspects of each instrument and how the instrument families produce sound.

Your child will be engaged in the learning experience due to the incredibly unique features it has! Drag and drop quizzes with colorful instruments and fun sound effects, a workbook with puzzles, and short movie clips of a live orchestra, and more. Let the fun begin!

Introduction to the Orchestra

What’s in the Course?

What can you expect to find in this course? Let’s dive a bit deeper and look at the learning objectives this course covers. 

The orchestra is multi-faceted and the study of it has many different layers that can be explored. In this course, students will learn the following:

1.     Classification: what are the different families of the orchestra, and what makes a particular instrument belong to a family? The course explores the different traits each family has, as well as interesting characteristics of individual instruments. In addition, it has a drag and drop interactive quiz for each family of instruments – the student will select an instrument and receive instant feedback on their answer. 

2.    Sound: how is sound produced by the different instrument families? How does this affect the classification? This really is the fun part, as in this course students can tap and hear ‘virtual’ instruments, giving them instant feedback on what a particular instrument sounds like. The instruments can even play simultaneously! Students can experience the different timbres and harmonies they create themselves, and mix and match instruments. Also examined is the effect length has on pitch. Students can dive even deeper with a science experiment on pitch that is in the included workbook! 

3.    What the instruments look and sound like when played by a live orchestra: This course has a selection of short videos that showcase an orchestra demonstrating the instruments from each family, as well as a piece from a famous composer – your students have likely already heard this Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, but will now know the instrument family that is featured in the introduction.  

4.    How and why the musicians sit in a particular place on the stage: Students will learn the importance of stage placement within this course, and will even have a chance to drag and drop the instrument families to the correct spot on the stage in an interactive quiz. 


Included with the course is a workbook students can complete as they progress through the course, or after the course is completed as an assessment. Pay special attention to the words in bold in the presentation, as they are the vocabulary words used in the workbook. Students learn best when they are involved in the learning process, and this mini-course is full of drag and drop quizzes that provide automatic feedback for the students.

It also has virtual tap and hear orchestra instruments! Students can tap and hear the instrument play, alone or with other instruments. They can experience the different timbres and harmonies, as well as hear the difference in pitch between the instruments.

A Closer Look

Let’s take an even closer look at what the course looks like, using the string family as an example. 

1.    Key features of the instruments 

Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie
Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie

2.    Tap and hear virtual string instruments

Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie

3.    Short movies to see the live string section in action

Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie
Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie

4.    Interactive drag and drop quizzes to choose the instruments that belong in a particular family. The quizzes are all self-checking and provide instant feedback when the student clicks ‘submit’.

Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie

Each instrument family is covered in the course, as was shown in the string family example above. The course also has a section on orchestra seating, as shown below.

       5. Orchestra seating

  • an introductory page about orchestra seating arrangements
  • a short movie to see the instruments on the stage
  • an interactive drag-and-drop quiz to place the instrument families in the correct location on the stage
Introduction to the Orchestra: a Freebie

All the interactive drag-and-drop quizzes in this course are learner-friendly and offer the student multiple chances to choose the ‘correct’ answer. If the student selects the correct answer, a fun ‘victory’ sound effect occurs! If it’s not quite right, after three attempts, a silly ‘blooper’ sound happens (played by a trombone, of course). This course is fun and light-hearted while teaching educational aspects of the orchestra. 

The best part is you can enroll your child for free! Simply click the link below to register.

Extend the Learning

The resources below pair perfectly with this course. Extend the learning even further with these interactive games! 

Orchestra BINGO! This printable game is the perfect complement to any orchestra lesson. It features rich, acoustic performances of orchestra instruments. Perfect for students to practice identifying instruments aurally. Just click the included link to access the instruments and print the game. It also includes colorful calling cards for each instrument. 

Orchestra Instruments Music Jeopardy – Game Show with Scoreboard and Audio! This game is a favorite among students. Group your learners into teams and watch the fun unfold! This game does require PowerPoint software in order for the scoreboard to work. It requires a minimum of two players, but is even more fun when played with teams! Just choose which colorful monster to represent your team and you’re ready to go. Students will listen to an audio example, and then choose the correct orchestra instrument. Perfect for all ages!

Why is it important to teach kids about the orchestra?

The orchestra is a great representation of creativity in our world, using the universal language of music. The blend of unique instruments, along with the repertoire performed, represents a work that you can’t find anywhere else. It is truly unique in this way. Learning about the orchestra and how it works also helps kids grow in their cognitive, emotional, and social development. Let’s take a closer look at how these areas are positively affected. 

Studying the orchestra helps improve cognitive development. Kids who learn about the orchestra enhance their auditory skills as they listen for the differences in sound between instruments. When we listen to single musical sounds, we are listening for many different things – timbre, pitch, and loudness. Adding harmony to the mix adds a whole new dimension of sound for the listener. By listening closely and analyzing these tones, young listeners can improve their ability to concentrate – a skill that lends itself to many different aspects of their lives. Critical listening can also improve problem-solving skills when they analyze a piece of music and look for patterns. 

Probably one of the greatest benefits of studying the orchestra and its instruments is the effect it can have on emotional intelligence. Due to the expressive nature of the orchestra, it is capable of reflecting a wide range of emotions and feelings. Kids can listen to varying emotions represented by orchestra music and apply that to their lives and identify their own emotions. 

Developing the skill of teamwork is also a valuable part of learning about the orchestra. Kids that are taught about the orchestra are more likely to one day be a musician within an orchestra – providing them with the opportunity to work harmoniously as a team with other musicians. This can also improve skills of communication with others. At the end of a performance, the musicians all have the gift of enjoying the sound that they produced together.

Learning about other cultures is another invaluable aspect of learning about the orchestra. When kids hear orchestral works from composers around the world, they are exposed to elements of that culture as they learn about the music. Orchestra works are not limited to one single country (how boring it would be if they were!) but from all different parts of the world. This helps kids develop an interest in and appreciation for cultures other than their own. Additionally, the language of music is not as limited as spoken language is – the same piece of music can evoke similar emotions regardless of the nationality of the listener. Music truly is a language for everyone. 

Last but certainly not least, enriching lives is a final way that study of the orchestra benefits students. Students who learn about the orchestra are more likely to take music lessons, learn an instrument, study music at a college level, and maybe even join an orchestra one day! Kids who engage in these things are given the invaluable tool of self-expression. They also are setting the foundation for a high-quality music education. 

Author Contributor Bio:

Abigail Mettrey is a mom, music educator, and composer. Music is her passion and her mission is to share what I know about it with others – especially my favorite humans on the planet, KIDS! My motto is that if kids are having fun while they’re learning, then what you’ve created is a success. I have a B.M. and M.M. in Piano Performance, and 30 additional graduate hours in K-12 Music Education with certification in Kodály (levels I, II).  Find her site here.

Abby Mettrey

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