A Lesson Plan on Orchestra vs Band: What is the Difference Between a Band and an Orchestra?

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This lesson plan is the 6th in the unit plan on Instruments of the Orchestra and shows students how to differentiate between a band and orchestra.

LESSON 6: The Orchestra vs. Band

Duration: Two or Three Forty-minute classes

Rationale: The purpose of this lesson is to provide students with information about what an orchestra is and what a band is and their differences. It also explains the purpose of the conductor in both groups. The students will learn this information through a program called The Dums as well as through Sibelius Instruments. In addition, students will have an opportunity to explore the orchestral sounds through a program called MusicBox.

Objectives: Students/learners will:

  • Define an orchestra and a band
  • Explain the differences between an orchestra vs. band
  • Explain what a conductor is/does
  • Listen to the sound of an orchestra and band
  • Explore the Dums and Sibelius Instruments for information on the orchestra
  • Compose a rhythm line using MusicBox to hear the sound combinations of various instrument’s

National Music and Technology Standards: For all of the National Standards used in this unit, please click here.


  • InFocus machine
  • Large overhead screen
  • Teacher laptop or PC
  • Student laptops with Sibelius Instruments, The Dums, and MusicBox software installed (see resources for more info)

Class Organization: Students will be at 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. The teacher will be using the InFocus machine in the front of the classroom for the guided activity. Students will work in pairs for the independent activity.


  • The teacher will ask the class what an orchestra is and the instrument families involved. The teacher will then ask what a band is and what the difference is between a band and an orchestra. (class discussion)
  • The students will then open the Sibelius Instrument software and click on the “Orchestras, Bands, and Chamber Ensembles” button. Students will then click on the “orchestra” button and then they can view all of the different eras of orchestra, including modern day’s orchestra. Here, they can view the instrument make up and listen to what the orchestra sounds like. This activity will be guided by the teacher for demonstration.
  • The students will then click on the “Bands” button to learn about the various types of Bands and what they sound like as well as their instrument makeup.
  • The teacher will then explain to the students that both groups are led by a person called the conductor and demonstrates how this person keeps time for the group by waving their hands. The teacher will then ask the students to imitate the teacher for practice of the different conducting patterns.
  • The teacher will then guide the students in exploring The Dums program. In this program, the students will be introduced to animated music notes that each play an instrument. The students can explore how various instruments effect the sound of both an orchestra and a band by having them switch the instruments on and off.
  • Once finished exploring the instrument ensembles and their sounds, the teacher will instruct the students to close The Dums, and open MusicBox located on the desktop.
  • Through guided learning, the teacher demonstrates to the students how to use various instruments to create a tune using the Tune Box Section. The teacher then shows the students how to create their own percussion beat by exploring the Beat Box section.
  • The teacher then has the students create their own “tunes” with the help of a partner.
  • The students will then save their file to the teacher’s flash drive. The teacher will then select a few of the students’ work to display for the class using the InFocus machine.

Assessment: Students will be assessed informally on their participation in this orchestra vs. band lesson by means of a participation rubric.



The Dums-2007; Published by ESP Ltd

Sibelius Instruments-2007; Published by Avid Technology, Inc.

Music Box; Published by Topologika Software Ltd

This post is part of the series: Instruments of the Orchestra Unit Plan Part 2-The Wrap Up

This series is the second group/series of lessons plans on an Instruments of the Orchestra Unit Plan. These detailed lesson plans would be considered the “wrap up” for this unit.

  1. Orchestra vs. Band: A Lesson Plan on the Differences
  2. Teach Music Using Inspiration 8 Software: A Review of Orchestra Instruments
  3. An Orchestra Instrument Unit Lesson: The Unit Test and Culminating Project