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O ve r t u

g Youn s Per on


Gu ide to t he O rchestra



Hi there, welcome to This brochure will act as your guide to the awesome world that is the orchestra. Here we will explore all the instruments and their families to get a feel for which instrument is right for you. You know, conducting is much more than waving a baton around. You’re the boss; “but with great power comes great responsibility�. You are the one in charge of coordinating the entire performance and deciding where the music goes.


In the String section you have violin, viola, cello and double bass all with curved, hollow, wooden bodies. Each looks the same but are different sizes and can either be played with a bow or plucked with your fingers. Violins play the high notes, while violas play slightly lower. Cellos are played sitting down and have an even lower sound. Double basses are the largest of the string family playing the lowest notes and provide the orchestra’s foundations.


The Woodwind section often carries the melody. It is made up of flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon. The sound is produced by blowing through a reed or a mouthpiece while the finger holes control the pitch of the notes.

The sounds of the woodwind instruments vary from the high floaty sound of the flute to the low growl of the bassoon.

s s a r B This section is made up of metal instruments with cupped mouth pieces. They include french horns, trumpets, trombones and tubas.

This instrument family is one of the strongest sounding in the orchestra. Although brass instruments can be amongst the hardest to play, they can also be the most satisfying.


There are many and varied instruments in the Percussion section. These range from the simple triangle and cymbals to the thunderous sound of the timpani. This section supports the rhythm of the music and provides splashes of sound, helping to create interest and excitement throughout the musical landscape.

Overture - Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra  

A workshop programme by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

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