Exploring Instruments of the Orchestra

Sonority City - Cover and Homework Activities

This unit develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding about orchestral instruments and families/sections of orchestral instruments.  Pupils learn about the construction, sound production and timbres/sonorities of different orchestral instruments, the layout, grouping and the instruments which belong to each section of a modern symphony orchestra.

Key to this unit is pupil’s understanding of the terms: TIMBRE AND SONORITY with a general introduction to the orchestra followed by an investigation into one orchestral section or family per lesson through listening and exploring and either ensemble performing, either pieces for that particular section of instruments or by building up a “class orchestra” using “Miniature March”, adding different sections each lesson towards a complete “class orchestra” performance.  This unit is enhanced by pupil’s being able to explore and perform on traditional orchestral instruments “as a class orchestra”, but with an awareness of limitations on resources, suitable keyboard voices can be used or any pupils who play orchestral instruments could be encouraged to perform on these during lessons. 

There is an optional lesson pathway to allow pupils to explore fanfares and the harmonic series when looking at brass and percussion instruments in more detail.

Sonority City - Fanfares (Brass and Percussion) Resources

Sonority City - DOITNOW (Starters) and Plenary Activities

Sonority City - “DOITNOW” Presentation

Cutting down on printables, file storage and media files, the “new look” Musical Contexts “DOITNOW” Sonority City lesson openers Presentation contains  a wealth (only two samples shown here), of effective “DOITNOW’s” when delivering the Sonority City unit in just one place - all audio and video files are embedded and there’s accompanying Teacher’s Notes in the “slide comments” section. 

Sonority City - Plenary Review Activities

A series of lesson reviews where pupils review their learning and understanding.

Sonority City - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Sonority City - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Includes Scheme of Work Overview, Unit Learning Objectives, Learning Outcomes and Lesson Pathways.

Sonority City - Music Theory and Graphic Score Dictation

Sonority City Theory - Timbre and Sonority

4-page worksheet introducing pupils to timbre and sonority in more detail referring to instruments of the orchestra and the vast array of words that can be used to describe timbre and sonority.

Sonority City Graphic Score Dictation

Graphic Score dictation based on the opening of Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” Includes answers with audio example given on the above audio file.

Sonority City - Instruments of the Orchestra General Resources

Sonority City - Strings Section/Family Resources

Sonority City - Woodwind Section/Family Resources

Sonority City - Brass Section/Family Resources

Sonority City - Percussion Section/Family Resources

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Sonority City - External “Instruments of the Orchestra” Websites

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Sonority City - 5 Minutes Silent Reading

For teachers who prefer to begin their lessons with quiet, focused openers.  All contain “Questions to Think About” which can also be used as Cover or Homework tasks.

1. Strings

2. Woodwind

3. Brass

4. Percussion

5. Fanfares I

6. Fanfares II

Key Words, Concepts and Musical Knowledge

Strings, Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, Tuned Percussion, Untuned Percussion, Orchestra, Ensemble, Section/Family, Conductor, Pitch, Timbre, Sonority, Arco, Pizzicato, Bow, Fanfare, Harmonic Series.

Music Theory

Words describing Timbre and Sonority.

Links to GCSE Music

Western Classical Tradition 1650-1910

Instrumental Music 1700-1820

The Concerto Through Time

My Music

Musical Forms and Devices

Music for Ensemble

 

The Musical Contexts “Sonority City” Instruments of the Orchestra Passport

This 10-page A4 collated template can be printed back-to-back (or enlarged to A3) forming a 20-page “Passport” for students to research and ‘visit’ each section or family of the orchestra.  Pupils research orchestral instruments from within each section or family of the orchestra, research key words and terms relating to that section or family of instruments and listen to and reflect on a piece of music (suggestions from the Western Classical Tradition and Popular Music) for that particular family of instruments.  There’s also space for pupils to research the role of the conductor, the layout of the orchestra, the London Symphony and Halle Orchestras, a reflection activity and a word search of key words and terms. 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to Fanfare for the Common Man

Listening questions based on Copland’s famous fanfare.

 

Fanfares Audio 1 - Fanfare for the Common Man—Copland

Fanfares to Perform

Four short differentiated Fanfares to perform.

A Three-Part Fanfare with Imitation

A short four-bar fanfare with Imitative entries for three performers.

The Last Post Performing and Fanfares Composing Pack

Includes a 3-player version, solo version and scores for transposing instruments plus an Evaluation Sheet for Assessing The Last Post Performances and a Composing and Evaluation Sheet for composing a Fanfare for a Special Occasion or Event.

Fanfares Audio 2 - The Last Post

Listening to 3 Fanfares

3 Listening Questions based on “Fanfare for All”, “Fanfare for the University of Lancaster” and “Olympic Fanfare”

Fanfares Audio 3 - “Fanfare for All”

Fanfares Audio 4 - “Fanfare for the University of Lancaster”

Fanfares Audio 5 - “Olympic Fanfare” - John Williams

 

 

 

The Trumpets of Tutankhamun

Comprehension questions on the Trumpets found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun including an optional QR code link to a YouTube video and a “Design your own Egyptian Trumpet” activity.

Can be done without using ICT.

Instruments of the Orchestra Research

Pupils research the background information to questions relating to the four different sections/families of the orchestra.

Requires ICT.

The History of the Orchestra

Questions on the history and development of the orchestra and the various sections and families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Layout of the Orchestra

Pupils colour in the different sections/families and name the instruments found in a Symphony Orchestra following directions. 

 

Staged answer given on Presentation

Orchestra Seating Cards

20 cards of orchestral instruments to cut out for arranging the class into the layout of a Symphony Orchestra

Solo Instruments of the Orchestra Listening Quiz

20 audio extracts of solo instruments of the Orchestra for a general “name the instrument/section” quiz

Listening to “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra”

Listening worksheet based on Britten’s YPGO.  Can be broken down into smaller tasks over a number of lessons.

 

Audio - “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” - Britten

Instruments of the Orchestra Assessment

Optional task to assess knowledge and understanding from the unit.  Contains knowledge test and listening tasks.

 

Audio - Instruments of the Orchestra Assessment Listening Tasks

“Miniature March”

Piano Accompaniment

Piano Accompaniment to accompany and lead “Class Orchestra” piece

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Strings Section Worksheet

General worksheet exploring the Strings section/family of the Orchestra

 

Strings Audio 1 - Strings Listening Quiz

Ensemble Performing (Strings) - “Viva la Vida” - Coldplay

A great way to demonstrate the strings section through popular music!

Arrangement for Strings (actual instruments or keyboard strings) of the opening riff and melody to “Viva la Vida”. 

Individual parts (with and without note names) and Full Score.

 

Strings Audio 2 - “Viva la Vida” (all parts together demo)

Solo Performing (Strings) - “The Swan” from ‘Carnival of the Animals’ - Saint-Saëns

Cello melody line of “The Swan” with and without note names.

BBC National Orchestra of Wales - The Strings

Good video to demonstrate the sound of the strings section of the orchestra

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Woodwind Section Worksheet

General worksheet exploring the Woodwind section/family of the Orchestra

 

Woodwind  Audio 1 - Woodwind Listening Quiz

“Miniature March” - Woodwind Parts

Parts for Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Oboe and Bassoon for “Class Orchestra” given with and without note names and a Full Score

Theme from “Swan Lake” - Tchaikovsky

Arrangement for Woodwind (Piccolo, Flutes, Oboe (Solo), Clarinets and Bassoons: actual instruments or keyboard woodwind) of the Theme  from Tchaikovsky’s  ‘Swan Lake’ with a 4-bar introduction.

Individual parts (with and without note names) and Full Score. 

BBC National Orchestra of Wales - The Woodwind

Good video to demonstrate the sound of the woodwind section of the orchestra

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Brass Section Worksheet

General worksheet exploring the Brass section/family of the Orchestra

 

Brass Audio 1 - Brass Instruments  Listening Quiz

BBC National Orchestra of Wales - The Brass

Good video to demonstrate the sound of the brass section of the orchestra

“Miniature March” - Brass Parts

Parts for Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn and Tuba  for “Class Orchestra” given with and without note names and a Full Score

“The Ride of the Valkyries” - Wagner

Arrangement for Brass (Trumpets, French Horns, Trombones and Tubas: actual instruments or keyboard brass) of Wagner’s  “The Ride of the Valkyries”.  Individual parts (with and without note names) and Full Score. 

“Gonna Fly Now” - Theme from ‘Rocky’

Arrangement for Brass (Trumpets, French Horns, Trombones and Tubas: actual instruments or keyboard brass) of the “Rocky” theme tune with a short opening fanfare.  Individual parts (with and without note names) and Full Score. 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Percussion Section Worksheet

General worksheet exploring the Percussion section/family of the Orchestra

Percussion Audio 1 - Tuned Percussion Instruments  Listening Quiz

Percussion Audio 2 - Untuned Percussion Instruments Listening Quiz

Percussion Audio 3 - Orchestral Percussion

“Miniature March” - Percussion Parts

Parts for assorted classroom/orchestral percussion (Timpani, Xylophones, Glockenspiel, Bass Drum, Cymbal, Triangle and Tambourine) for “Class Orchestra” given with and without note names and a Full Score

Percussion Instruments Cards (1)

24 Cards of images of percussion instruments (no names) which can be cut up and used as a card sort activity according to tuned/untuned or by timbre or playing technique.

Percussion Instruments Cards (2)

Cards of percussion instruments together with ideas of how these can be used including using a “Percussion Clock”

BBC National Orchestra of Wales - Percussion

Good video to demonstrate the sound of the percussion section of the orchestra

 

 

“Miniature March” - Strings Parts

Parts for 1st and 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos, Double Basses and Harp for “Class Orchestra” given with and without note names and a Full Score

“Spring” from ‘The Four Seasons’ - Vivaldi

Arrangement for Strings (actual instruments or keyboard strings) of the opening of “Spring” from ‘The Four Seasons’.  Individual parts (with and without note names) and Full Score. 

 

 

Theme from “New World Symphony” - Dvorák

Arrangement for Woodwind (Flutes & Piccolo, Oboe, Cor Anglais (Solo), Clarinets and Bassoons: actual instruments or keyboard woodwind) of the Theme  from “Largo” movement of Dvorák’s Symphony No.9. 

Individual parts (with and without note names) and Full Score. 

‘Morning’ from “Peer Gynt Suite” - Grieg

Arrangement for Woodwind (Piccolo, Flutes, Oboe, Clarinets and Bassoons: actual instruments or keyboard woodwind) of the ‘Morning Mood’ Theme  from Grieg’s ‘Peer Gynt Suite’. 

Individual parts (with and without note names) and Full Score. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Sound and video extracts of the different Instruments of the Orchestra

Phimharmonia Orchestra (London UK)

YouTube channel with lots of demonstrations of solo orchestral instruments and orchestral performances

Goldie and the Heritage Orchestra - “Timeless” (Sine Tempore)

The official video (directed by Lyle Lindgren) of the first ever orchestral performance of Goldie's 'Timeless'. Live at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on Sat 14th June 2014 as part of the Meltdown Festival.

Philharmonia.com

Good website containing images and videos of solo orchestral instruments with information on construction, sound production and pitch range

Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (BBC Proms)

Great performance with narration of Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” as part of the BBC Proms.

SFS Kids Fun with Music

Great interactive site for Instruments of the Orchestra

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Philharmonic Kids Zone

Range of interactive games on Instruments of the Orchestra

Classics for Kids

Interactive way to see and hear instruments

Inside the Orchestra

Play virtual instruments of the orchestra

Royal Albert Hall

Meet the orchestra with Albert’s Band

Listening Adventures - Carnegie Hall

YPGO