How to identify orchestral instruments

By | April 7, 2021


Be aware that the instruments in an orchestra are grouped by their sounds and how they are played. The brass instrument can be identified by the nozzle, which is metal. Familiarize yourself with the names of brass instruments: trumpet, tuba, baritone, French horn and sliding trombone. These instruments are prominent and are usually heard most clearly in an orchestral piece.


Listen to quiet, soft sounds. These filling instruments, or background instruments, are called wooden winds. The saxophone is an example of a wooden wind. Familiarize yourself with the names of woodwind instruments: saxophone, clarinet, flute and oboe. The mouthpiece of these instruments is usually called a reed or double reed.


Listen to a steady rhythm during a performance. The rhythm of an orchestra is maintained by drums. Drums are called percussion instruments. Look at the back of the orchestra to see these instruments. In an orchestra, they look like kettles.


Look at the front of the orchestra and you will see several rows of string instruments. While the brass instrument has the highest role with regard to the melody, the violins follow this with the melody on a more even basis. Familiarize yourself with the names of string instruments, such as violin, violet, cello and harp.


Learn to identify orchestral instruments both by sight and sound. For example, on a trumpet you see a metal nozzle and a brass exterior, combined with a horn for volume.


Try to identify each instrument from the woodwinds section. For example, if you see an instrument with one end smaller than the trumpet and a moving mouthpiece, look at a clarinet.


Recognize the instruments in the brass section, such as the trombone. It is a brass instrument that you can identify with its large horn and long horizontal appearance. > Familiarize yourself with string instruments, such as the harp. It is a large string instrument and sits next to the orchestra.


Also look at pictures of orchestras like going to concerts. Now that you can identify key instruments, you can see how the instruments are grouped together with construction and sound.

Tips and warnings

  • People who play solos in an orchestra often stand up.
  • Orchestras can be almost any size.
  • Many people love to listen to an orchestra. Sometimes they even know the composers. But in many cases, you can not understand how an orchestra is structured through instrument grouping, if you have not played an instrument. Examining instruments through their construction, nozzles and role in the orchestra can be very helpful when understanding how orchestral instruments meet to make a musical presentation. Identifying orchestral instruments lets you know where to look during a concert, which increases your enjoyment.