Learn About Instruments

With so many options, it can be difficult to choose which instrument to play. Watch and listen as musicians introduce each instrument. There's a good instrument for everyone. Which one will YOU choose?

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!

Explore Individual Instruments

Ellis Music Instrument Introduction Videos

A series of short educational films produced by Jim Giberti of The Imagination Company in August of 2021 for Ellis Music to help young students choose an instrument to learn at school. The instruments most commonly found in concert bands and orchestras are demonstrated by students and adults of varying ages and experience. Each tells a bit about why they chose their instrument and the nature and unique characteristics of that particular instrument. It is an inspirational collection that also shares these musicians' passion for music and its importance in their lives.

Watch a Band Instrument Demonstration

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

Explore Musical Ensembles

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

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

Why Play an Instrument?

First of all, it's fun! Secondly, playing an instrument provides a positive and unique way of connecting with other people. Humans have been making music for over a thousand years and developing a rich cultural history. Beyond that, music has been scientifically proven to improve physical and mental health, and studying a musical instrument (particularly beginning at a young age) increases brain power and efficiency. The resources below are just a small sample of the information available about music's many benefits.


from PBS: "The Benefits of Music Education"

from INC.: "Want Smarter Kids? Teach Music, Not Coding, According to MIT"

from Learning Liftoff: "10 Benefits of Music Education for Students"


from TED: "How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain"

from NAMM: "The Benefits of Music Education Extend Beyond Childhood"

from CNN: "Music Lessons Benefit the Brain"

Additional Resources

These links to other websites are provided for the benefit of Ellis Music website visitors. As with any external resource, the pages below are not managed by Ellis Music, so we can take no responsibility for their content, and the links may stop working at any time.