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Instruments of the Orchestra: The String Family

written by: Sarah Malburg • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/17/2012

This lesson will introduce your students to the family of string instruments and its members. They will learn about their characteristics, playing techniques and will love hearing all of their beautiful sounds.

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    LESSON 2: The Strings

    This is the second lesson in the Instruments of the Orchestra Unit for Grade 5 Music students.

    Duration: Forty minutes

    Rationale: The purpose of this lesson is to provide students with information about the family of string instruments, their characteristics and various playing techniques by means of the Internet.

    Objectives: Students/learners will:

    • Identify the main string instruments: the violin, viola, cello, double bass and harp.
    • Listen to sounds of the various string instruments.
    • Understand the variations in playing techniques of the strings.
    • Explore the Internet for information on the strings family.

    National Standards: For the Music and Technology National Standards for the unit, click here.

    Materials:

    • A Stringed instrument for demonstration (violin is smallest)
    • Student laptops including worksheet on the Stringed Instruments
    • InFocus machine
    • Large pull-down or portable screen
    • CD Player and CD of String Quartet Music

    Class Organization: Students will start on the carpet area for the demonstration. They then will go to their desks/tables and will be on their individual laptops. The teacher will be at the front of the class for demonstration but will come around to the students as well.

    Procedure:

    • The teacher will have all of the students sit on the carpet area (in chairs if necessary) in a semi-circle.
    • The teacher will then review with the students some of the characteristics of the string family and show them pictures of each family member. The students will be asked to guess what instruments they are. The teacher will then take out a stringed instrument (preferably the violin) and show the students its parts, how to hold it and play it using the bow. The teacher will also describe the bow’s material and then will proceed to play a few notes on the violin for them to hear the various pitches it makes. The teacher will then pluck the strings to demonstrate a different playing technique.
    • After the demonstration, the teacher explains that the students are going to explore the family of string instruments a little more using the Internet.
    • The teacher may then pass the instrument around for the students to see and after doing so the students may go and boot up their portable laptops.
    • The teacher will then use the InFocus machine to lead the class in the Internet activity. They are to go to the http://www.playmusic.org website and click on the boy playing the tuba where it says “Take a Seat in the Orchestra”. Then they are to click on the string section.
    • The students will read aloud the information they find on the string section as a class. When finished, the students will complete a string worksheet by using the website to find the answers. They are to then print their worksheets to turn in for assessment. When they are finished, they may play the “build the instrument” game or listen to the excerpts of string Music using their headphones. Students may work in pars for the completion of the worksheet as well.
    • As the students work, the teacher will have on a String Quartet CD for them to listen to while they work. (optional)

    Assessment: Students will be assessed on their ability to complete a stringed instrument worksheet correctly. They will also be assessed informally on their participation based on a rubric that includes categories such as previous knowledge (participation) and lack of knowledge (level of engagement), behavior, etc.

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    Resources

    PlayMusic.org: Take a Seat in the Orchestra

    This is a great site for students to retrieve detailed information on the instruments of the orchestra. They can also listen to excerpts of each instrument, play mini instrument games and puzzles and even hear what musicians have to say about playing their instruments. This is also a great site for teachers to get some lesson ideas and extended information and resources for their Music classroom. This site meets the Research tools portion of the NETS.

    Musical Instruments and the Voice: 50 Ready-To-Use Activities for Grade 3-9

    By Audrey J. Adair. Parker Publishing: New York. 1987.

Instrument Families of the Orchestra

This is a great unit plan that will get your 5th grade Music students better acquainted with the various types of musical instruments of the orchestra. There are several lessons that incorporate technology as well. Enjoy!
  1. Instruments of the Orchestra Unit Plan and First Lesson
  2. Instruments of the Orchestra: The String Family
  3. Instruments of the Orchestra: The Woodwind Family
  4. The Instruments of the Orchestra: The Brass Family
  5. Instruments of the Classical Orchestra: The Percussion Family