The Woodwind Family

Flute - Oboe - Clarinet - Bassoon - Saxophone - Recorder

Originally exclusively made of "wood," the instruments in this family are played by blowing "wind" into the mouthpiece; hence, the very clever name "woodwinds".



Personality: Stand out from the crowd! You get to float high above the sounds of other the other instruments. You may also find yourself drawn to the relaxingly smooth and calming sounds of your instrument when practicing at your own home. The flute is an excellent fit if you are social and would be happy making music together with your friends in bands or orchestras at their school or in small chamber ensembles here at ANMS.

About the instrument: Current flutes are made of metal: silver, gold or platinum. A standard flute is a little over 2 feet long (which is why our younger students may use a curved headjoint) and is played by holding it sideways with both hands and blowing across a hole in the mouthpiece, much like blowing across the top of a bottle. Your fingers open and close the keys, which changes the pitch. The flute’s higher pitched cousin is named the piccolo.

Best age to start: 7 and up



Personality: Are you determined and self- motivated? The oboe could be the instrument for you! If you are a natural leader you may be a great candidate for the oboe. Tenacious oboe students often enjoy working diligently towards progress on their instrument.

About the instrument: The oboe uses a double reed mouthpiece, which vibrates when you blow through it. To play the oboe, hold upright, blow through the double reed in your mouth, and use both hands to press down on the keys to open and close the holes which changes the pitch. The oboe can be played to convey frightful sounds to warm, velvety smooth notes, which is why the oboe very memorable. If you've attended orchestra concerts before, you have heard the oboe. This instrument tasked with tuning the orchestra before each concert. Listen for the iconic ‘A’ note that the oboe plays before the music begins.

Best age to start: 7 and up



Personality: The clarinet may be a good fit if you like details, are bright, love to laugh, and don’t mind a few squeaks along your way to mastering your instrument! As a clarinet student you have the opportunity to play with your friends at school in orchestras, bands or even here at ANMS in a clarinet ensemble, like our very own Schön Clarinet Scholarship Quartet.

About the instrument: The clarinet uses a single reed. Clarinets come in a few different sizes, and the standard B-flat clarinet is just over 2 feet long. The clarinet has a dark rich sound in their lower notes, while the upper part of the clarinet's range is bright and resonant, much like the human voice. You play the clarinet by holding it upright, blowing through the reed, and using your hands to change the pitches by opening and closing the keys with your fingers.

Best age to start: 7 and up



Personality: Calling all sociable class clowns! You may enjoy playing the bassoon if you have a wonderful sense of humor, are a go-getter and love to be around groups of people. The bassoon is an instrument which shines in any orchestra or small ensemble.

About the instrument: The bassoon is a very long instrument, doubled in half, made of wood, with many keys. The bend in the instrument makes it possible for musicians to play it comfortably. If it were straight, the bassoon would be around 9 feet long and no-one could play it! Like the oboe, the bassoon uses a double reed. The bassoon has a similar range to the cello, a stringed instrument. The bassoon is played by holding it upright and blowing through the double reed. The air travels down the tube and then makes a u-turn and goes up and out the top. Just like the oboe, both hands to press on the keys to change the pitch. From high school, college, to professional orchestras, the bassoon is always in demand.

Best age to start: 9 to 12 and up (depending on hand size)



Personality: Are you silly, gregarious, and creative? Saxophonists enjoy getting out into the world and making music with friends. Creative musical improvisation is often encouraged! From band, orchestra to jazz ensembles, you can have fun in social settings with this instrument.

About the instrument: Don’t be deceived by it’s outwardly brassy appearance, the saxophone is a woodwind instrument. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone is played by blowing through the reed mouthpiece, and using fingers to change the pitches by opening and closing the keys. You’ll often hear the sounds of the saxophone in jazz and popular music. Much like a chorus, the saxophone comes in multiple flavors; soprano, alto, tenor, and more!

Best age to start: 7 and up