Introduction to the Instruments

Musical instruments are divided into various groups known as instrument families. The four main families are woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings. Woodwind instruments are not -- as one might imagine -- made of wood, but they do all have many tone holes that are covered by either keys or fingers. Brass instruments are long tubes bent in various shapes that are made of a type of metal alloy called brass (though they may be lacquered or plated with silver). The percussion family includes a variety of pitched and non-pitched instruments that are typically struck by a stick or mallet to produce a sound. String instruments produce sound by means of a string that is stretched across the instrument, which the player either bows or plucks.

Learning to play a musical instrument will require practice. It is rare for someone to be able to pick up an instrument and produce a high quality sound immediately. The very act of producing a sound on an instrument involves using muscles that may not be fully developed. Practice involves exercising these muscles, as well as developing aural (listening) skills and gaining theoretical skills, like how to read music. Music notation is a language of its own. The neat thing is that music is a universal language, so once you learn it, you will be able to make music with people anywhere in the world!

There are hundreds of types of musical instruments in the world. Ellis Music deals primarily with band and orchestra instruments (although we also have recorders, ukuleles, guitars, and digital pianos).

Instruments Available for Rental from Ellis Music

You can click on the name of an instrument below to see an image and basic information about it. Note: Schools/teachers do not necessarily offer lessons on all instruments listed below. When in doubt, check with your school or music teacher.

Bass Clarinet
Alto Sax
Tenor Sax
French Horn
Snare Drum
Percussion/Bell Kit
Double Bass

Instruments not listed above (including soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, tuba, and drum set) may be purchased from Ellis Music but are not available for rental. Financing options are available for purchases.

For additional information about our rental program, please contact Ellis Music.

Instrument Videos

Introduction to the Band Instruments - members of The United States Army Field Band demonstrate and briefly discuss the instruments of the concert band

Welcome to Band - an introduction to playing in a school band

Welcome to Orchestra - an introduction to playing in a school orchestra

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra web page includes sounds and information about all the instruments in an orchestra.


Instrument Assembly & Care

The following .pdf files were created by Ellis Music to help students properly assemble and care for their instruments. You will need to have Adobe Reader installed on your device in order to access these documents.

photo of student musicians getting off bus

Instrument Fingering Charts

Available for a variety of instruments, these charts show the fingerings -- or in the case of the trombone, slide position -- for each note. Links are in PDF format; you will need Adobe Reader installed on your device to view these files. (Courtesy of Conn-Selmer)