The Topic:
Musical Instruments

Easier - Musical instruments are devices on which you can play music.
Harder - Most musical instruments have a string, a reed (a thin piece of wood or metal), or some other device that vibrates creating sound waves. Musical sound or tone is made when air vibrates a certain number of times a second. The sound waves must be contained in some fashion so that the instrument player can control the pitch, loudness, duration, and quality of the tone produced.
Musical instruments can be grouped in five major classes: (1) stringed instruments, (2) wind instruments, (3) percussion instruments, (4) keyboard instruments, and (5) electronic instruments.
Instrument Encyclopedia at University of Michigan School of Information and Stearns Museum of Musical Instruments, School of Music
This site shows how instruments from a wide variety of different cultures, performance contexts and structural materials relate to one another.
Instruments at the William and Gayle Cook Music Library, Indiana University School of Music
This links-site will connect you to information about most musical instruments.
Learn about Instruments
At this website, you learn about the different families and different types of instruments.
Multimedia Instrument Encyclopedia at the Zoellner Arts Center, LeHigh University
See popular musical instruments, play their music, or have fun learning about their origins.
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of these activities:
Build/Invent Your Own Musical Instrument. Get some ideas and plans at sites like Building Musical Instruments, Instrument Builders Pages, Build a Conduit-pipe Hammered-dulcimer, How to Build a Simple Hammered-Dulcimer, Making a Hammer Dulcimer, and Virtual Museum of Music Inventions. Then make your own instrument. You may want to follow a plan or come up with your own 'original' creation.
Complete a Musical Instruments WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at the Instrumental Information Inquiry (Grades 5-8) webQuest site.
History of a Musical Instrument. Select any instrument and use online resources and the library to learn about its history and development. If working in a large group such as a school class, you could divide yourselves - - each person or a small group looking at the instruments for the sections of an orchestra. Present your information in a HyperStudio, PowerPoint, or other type of presentation software where you can include pictures, sounds, and graphics with your text information. An alternative project would be to create a webpage using one of the HTML development programs.
Identify Famous People Who Play(ed) an Instrument. Create a bulletin board display that shows well-known people in varied career fields with the musical instrument that they played - - for example, Carl Sandburg with a guitar.
Investigate the Science of a Musical Instrument. Pick and instrument and investigate the science behind the sound. How does it Work? How are different sounds produced. Create a diagram or poster that explains what you learn to others.
Compare and Contrast Two Different Instruments. Investigate two very different musical instruments. Compare and contrast the two in terms of their design, the sounds they produce, the way that they are played, their history etc.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Bach's Tour of Musical Instruments (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Here you find information and pictures about different instruments; there is also a test!
Energy In The Air: Sounds From the Orchestra (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
At this site you find information about how sound is made, what it looks like when it is recorded, the instruments that play in the orchestra, sound clips of the orchestra playing music, and an activities section where you can see how to make some instruments.
Everything You've Ever Wanted to Learn About: Music! at the Online Music Encyclopedia (1997 ThinkQuest Project)
Want to know the parts of a violin? Instruments are arranged by type, such as woodwind or brass, and detailed descriptions of each instrument are included. A glossary of terms, a MIDI library, and links to further music information round out this site.
Evolution of Musical Instruments (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
This website covers brass, percussion, woodwind and stringed instruments. It tracks the specific instruments within each type back through history. For some instruments, suggestions are provided on how to play. Pictures, games and an instrument quiz are also included.
Instruments of the Orchestra (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn about the instruments; indexed by strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion groups.
Music Mania (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
This site contains the history of the flute, trumpet, trombone, French horn, and saxophone.
Musical Instruments (2000 ThinkQuest Junior)
The instruments covered are the guitar, flute, drum, violin, piano, and banjo.
Strings and Things (999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn about some of the most common stringed instruments.
Three Musical Ways to Rock the Millennium (2000 ThinkQuest Junior)
Here you can learn about the history of the flute, steel drum, and piano.
Vibrations In Music (1998 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn about brass, percussion, and woodwind instruments, and how they create sounds. The site also has pictures of different kinds of instruments and links to sites about different instruments.
Violin (1999 ThinkQuest Project)
The violin is seen from many angles on the site: history, family of instruments, manufacturing method,acoustics, playing variations, musicians who play it, and more.
Lots More Sites
America's Shrine to Music Museum (University of South Dakota, Vermillion)
Take a virtual tour of this museum which houses more than 6,000 instruments from all over the world.
Electric Guitar - From Frying Pan to Flying V: The Rise of the Electric Guitar (Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, in association with the Chinery Collection, at the National Museum of American History)
This exhibit features instruments that illustrate how innovative makers and players combined the guitar with a pickup (sensor) and amplifier to create a new instrument and a new sound that profoundly changed popular music--blues, country, rhythm and blues, jazz, and rock and roll--in the 20th century.
Related Website:
2) How Guitars Work by Marshall Brain At How Stuff Works
Ethnic Musical Instruments Including Djembes, Talking Drums, Doumbeks, Flutes, Gongs, and Singing Bowls from Carousel Publications, Ltd.
This site features ethnic musical instruments and a multi cultural approach to music education.
Folk Music Instruments
Here you can link to information sites about specific instruments from the autoharp to violins.
Similar Links-Sites for Musical Instruments:
2) Instruments of Celtic Music
3) Music Instruments (Historic) at University of Maryland
Glossary of Musical Instruments
This resource includes a selection of musical instruments recorded, photographed, or sketched for the California Folk Music Project Collection. Information cited in quotes is taken from the WPA Final Report for the Project, entitled 'A Study of California Folk Music.'
Horn Players' FAQ
This page is a links-site for horn information.
Instrumental Music Resource Page
Success on a musical instrument can be defined in many different ways. For our purposes we will define it as continually making good progress on the instrument. The 'good progress' can be affected by the physiological ability of the student, by the degree of innate musical talent, a regular and focused practice regimen, and selecting an instrument that they are physically able to play.
Kenneth G. Fiske Museum (Claremont Colleges)
The site includes photos of some of the collection in this musical instrument museum.
Lark In The Morning
This is the online catalog of a musician's service founded in 1974 that specializes in hard to find musical instruments, music and instructional materials.
Music Instruments
This links page connects to several musical instrument resources.
Musical Instruments (Native American)
Typical musical instruments of the aboriginal societies include rattles, various types of drums and, occasionally, flutes and whistles.
Musical Instruments of the Asian Countries
Here you learn about the unique musical instruments of China, Japan, Indian, Tibet, and Southeast Asia.
Music Trader
This site is aimed at persons working in, and interested in all aspects of the music industry . . . especially the musical instrument repair technician and maker of musical instruments. It includes a 'Buyers Guide to Purchasing a Musical Instrument,' maintenance information, links and lots, lots more.
Virtual Museum of Music Inventions
This site explains how sound is made, has teaching tips, and photo exhibits of musical instruments made by grade school students.
Violin Making by Hans Johannsson
Here you learn how violins are made, plus instrument care tips and photos.
Woodwind Central
This site includes definitions of the woodwind family of instruments as well as some sound files.
Websites for Teachers
Bottle Organs at Sounds Like Science
 This lesson was designed to help learners understand the relationship between pitches and notes and to experiment with variables that affect pitch.
Related Lessons:
2) Drums at Sounds Like Science
3) Guitars at Sounds Like Science
4) Kazoo at Sounds Like Science
5) Jamboree at Sounds Like Science
Making Music and Playing the Blues (Grades 6-12)
Students learn about the blues, research the construction of musical instruments, create an instrument using provided materials, and write a report about the process and the product.
Making a Shoe-Box Guitar
Students answer the question 'what is music?' while constructing a shoe-box guitar.
Mathematics of Music by Deborah Taylor
This lesson is designed to enhance and broaden students' understanding, knowledge, and appreciation of the mathematics in music.
Musical Instrument Appreciation by Tony L. Hartmann (Grades 2-4)
In this lesson, students will learn about many kinds of musical instruments and become aware of the importance of each instrument in the creation of music.
Music Technology Learning Center
This website provides information on the world of computers and music.
musical note
sound board
Neanderthal flute
sound wave
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99
Updated, 9/00