Skip Links
soh.search.redirect.input

Cheat sheet:
Jay Laga'aia's Christmas orchestra

Your guide to classical instruments for kids

Miriam Rizvi
Sydney Opera House

Plagued with impossible questions from the little ones? Let’s face it, parenting is hard and you might not always have all the answers. If you're coming to Jay Laga’aia’s Classic Christmas we can help you get your classical music fun facts up to scratch.

Woodwinds

Flute
These delicate instruments have been made out of lots of different things throughout history: bone, wood, glass, ivory, plastic, brass, silver and even gold. The Chinese dizi is made from bamboo with a vibrating reed (sometimes they’re even made of jade). 

Clarinet
The clarinet sometimes is referred to as a 'liquorice stick'. Next time you visit a music store give one a lick and see what you think!

Brass

Trumpet
A trumpet only has three buttons (called ‘valves’), but can play over 45 different notes by pressing these buttons in different ways and changing the shape of their mouth and lips (called ‘embouchure’).

Tuba
The tuba is the lowest-pitched instrument of the brass instruments. Can you sing a note as low as a tuba?

Trombone
The word trombone is made from two Italian words: tromba (which means trumpet), and one (which means big). Together these Italian words mean 'big trumpet', or trombone! When the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons speaks, her voice is the sound of a trombone.

Live stream with Jay Laga'aia

Watch here

Strings

Violin
A musician who plays the violin is called a 'violinist' or, more traditionally, a 'fiddler'. There's one very famous fiddler from history you might know, but he's not exactly in an orchestra.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has 29 violinists amongst its ranks—and that's not including their fellow violists!

Cello 
The plural of cello is either celli or cellos. Also, cello is just a nickname—their full name is actually violoncello, which translates to "small big viola". Instead of resting them beneath the chin, cello players hold their instrument between their legs. This is because they are so big and heavy!

Their bold, rich sound makes up the deeper end of the orchestra, along with the double bass. Can't name a cello piece off the top of your head? You're probably familiar with this one.

Percussion

Piano
Yespianos are technically percussion instruments! When you play a key, the sound is made by a tiny hammer hitting a metal string.

Did you know playing the piano is also called "tickling the ivories"? Have you tickled a piano lately?

Some pianos can get so big they weigh over five hundred kilos!

Percussion
Drums are used to keep a steady beat in a song. Drums can make a song sound relaxed or really, really rushed! Why don’t you try being a drum? Clap your hands slowly, and then really fast—do you feel the difference?

 

You may also like...

Jay Laga'aia's Classic Christmas
Join us for a very merry introduction to live classical music and carols for ages 2-5.
The Funatorium: Captain Hook's Pirate Party
Ahoy me hearties! Join Hook, Tink and Smee for catchy tunes, breath-taking circus, acrobatics and a treasure trove of silliness!
Brainiac Live
With exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves and daredevil experiments, delve fearlessly into the mysteries of science this summer.