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Musical Instruments Topic Guide

Musical instruments come in many shapes and sizes. Every human civilization has used musical instruments of some sort.

Instruments can be very simple, like a drum, or extremely complex, like an Indonesian Gamelan.

Teach your children about musical instruments using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas

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Resources

Musical Instrument Facts

  • The oldest known musical instrument is a flute made of bone that was found in Slovenia. Scientists believe that it was made by Neanderthals about 60,000 years ago.
  • Percussion instruments make a sound when they are hit, shaken or scrapped.
  • Although a piano has strings, it is a percussion instrument because the sound is made when a hammer hits the strings inside the instrument.
  • Violins were first made in northern Italy during the sixteenth century.
  • Experts think that there might be as many as 1500 different instruments in the world.

Videos

The lick on 91 instruments

This video is fantastic for introducing children to a range of different instruments, featuring “the lick”, the same seven notes.

Running time: 2:10

Five(ish) Minute Drum Lesson – African Drumming: Lesson 1: The Djembe

This video introduces the djembe drum, including its history and significance in the Mali Empire, as well as how to play it.

Running time: 4:10

George Meets the Orchestra | An Introduction to the Orchestra for Children

In this video, George finds out about the instruments of the orchestra.

Running time: 6:01

How do instruments make music?

This short video from We The Curious is a brilliant explanation of how different instruments make a sound.

Running time: 2:24

Books

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Hana has signed up to play the violin in a talent show, but she’s only had three lessons. How will she get on?

The Trumpet of the Swan

Louis is a trumpeter swan, but he cannot make a sound…

The Very Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

This lovely book includes short clips from 10 classical pieces.

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin

A beautiful rhyming book about an orchestra performance.

Music: A Fold-Out History

This timeline in a book shows the evolution of music to the present day.

Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!

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