Instruments in the Woodwind Family: What You Need to Know

Instruments in the Woodwind Family: What You Need to KnowThere is a wide range of Instruments in the Woodwind Family. Some you may have encountered and used, and some that will surprise you. Nevertheless, all the instruments in this family are played by blowing air into them. They have an opening at one end, and a mouthpiece at the other end with some holes along their body. That is one thing they all have in common. The group also includes instruments with reeds and others without. Other features that characterize this group of instruments. Here are some interesting things that you did not know about such kinds of instruments.

Reeds and Flutes

The woodwind family of instruments is made up of two main groups. These groups are the flutes and the reed instruments. The flute is the most popular and the oldest of this group of instruments. It produces sounds by blowing across a hole that acts as the mouthpiece as you hold it sideways with both hands. You then vary the pitch or melody by closing or opening the respective holes. The reed on the other hand produces sound by splitting the blown air using the reed inside the instrument as you blow into it.

They are Made of Plastic and Wood

Instruments in this group of instruments were initially made of wood, hence their name. With time, the manufacturers saw fit to use plastic, wood, metal, and a combination of other materials to make them as durable as possible. Plastic is especially easier to manage and more durable.

The flute is the Oldest Instrument

The flute is the most common and the oldest of the woodwind group of instruments. Researchers have discovered flutes dating back to about 40,000 years ago that were made of ivory. These instruments are now made of a variety of other materials and are ideal for concerts and orchestra performances. They produce sweet melodious sounds that make them stand out in performances. When playing the flute, you should hold it sideways and blow over the mouthpiece like blowing over the top of a bottle.


Clarinets fall under the category of single-reed instruments. They used one reed to split air that produces the sound. These instruments vary in size with the standard one being about two feet long. You play this instrument by holding it in an upright position then blowing air through the mouthpiece and varying the pitch by closing and opening the holes along the body of the instrument with your fingers.


Oboe falls into the category of double-reed instruments. These instruments are played more or less the same as clarinets but have tones that are below the flutes. The soft and smooth velvety sounds make this instrument ideal for solo performances in orchestras.


Bassoons represent the large instruments of this family. They are the largest and produce the lowest pitch. The instrument is a long pipe made mostly of wood and has a lot of keys. It has a small bend that allows players to work on it comfortably. It takes time to learn to play this instrument, hence not as popular.

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