Musical Instruments

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What defines a musical instrument?
Musical instrument, any device for producing a musical sound. The principal types of such instruments, classified by the method of producing sound, are percussion, stringed, keyboard, wind, and electronic.

If you intend to learn a variety of musical instruments, then it is advised that you get familiar with its major classes. This will allow you to determine which among the classes is suitable enough for the kind of learning that you want to attain in music. The different musical instruments that are available in different parts of the world at present are categorized as follows:

Wind Instruments:
This class of musical instruments requires you to blow into a specific wind instrument by following an order to ensure that the sound that you desire is produced. The instruments can be expected to work depending on the principles of frequencies, sound waves, acoustics, resonance and harmonics. The pitch of the produced sound when you start blowing the instrument is actually dependent on the length of the air column through which the waves of the sounds vibrate. Some of the most popular wind instruments are piccolo, flute, clarinet, shakuhachi, bassoon, oboe, accordion, English horn, harmonica, saxophone, pianica, bagpie and shehnai.

Brass Instruments:
These instruments can be expected to work similarly to wind instruments with a few modifications. The length of air column of brass instruments can actually be changed with the help of slide mechanism or press valves. One of the many examples of brass instruments is trumpet. It can be played horizontally using a series of valves that can be found at the top of the instrument. The valves are then opened and closed using a variety of combinations so that you can start producing different kinds of pitches. Another example of brass instruments is the French horn. This instrument is composed of a basic tube which is rounded into a compact shape and is being culminated in a bell or a conical bore. You can then find a series of valves that are set centrally on it. Other brass instruments that you can use are trombone, tuba, bugle and conch.

Percussion Instruments:
These instruments require you to strike the surface of the instrument to generate vibrations to produce your desired note. Percussion instruments can actually be divided into two types. The first type includes tuned instruments that are known to produce a definite pitch or a series of different pitches. Some examples of the tuned percussion instruments include xylophone, vibraphone, marimba, tubular bells and timpani or kettle drum. The second type of percussion instruments is the indefinite pitch. Its examples include triangle, castanets, rattle, cymbals, tambourine, anvil and gong.

String Instruments:
These are composed of those instruments that work based on sound wave vibrations produced by strings. The pitch that can be produced by these instruments is dependent on the length of air column and the type and thickness of strings used. Among the most popular string instruments are guitar, viola, violin, cello, mandolin, harp, double bass and banjo.

Electronic Instruments:
These are those instruments that are produced using the latest technology. These instruments are created in a way that makes it simpler and easier for anyone to produce sounds. These are known to be user friendly so you will never have a hard time learning the basics of producing sounds out of any of them. Among the most popular examples of electronic instruments are piano keyboards, synthesizers, rhythm machines, octopads and samplers.

Music can benefit your child in many areas – language, maths, concentration and social skills, just to name a few! So whether or not your child learns a musical instrument, try to expose your child to music as much as possible and enjoy the many benefits!

Brain growth:
Studies in neuroscience show that music can enhance brain function in children. Musical activities (such as playing an instrument, singing or just listening to music) stimulate the brain, and this brain workout leads to improved brain structure with the formation of new neural connections.

Language skills:
Studies also show that young children who participate in music classes have improved speech development and learn to read more easily. Learning music helps to develop the left side of the brain (related to language and reasoning), assists with sound recognition, and teaches rhythm and rhyme. Songs can also help children remember information (just think of the Alphabet song!).

Maths skills:
Music can help with the development of maths skills. By listening to musical beats your child can learn basic fractions, pattern-recognition and problem solving. Children who study music also have improved spatial intelligence and ability to form mental pictures of objects – skills that are important for more advanced mathematics.

Memory, attention and concentration:
Recent studies have shown that people who are musically trained have better working memory skills, helping them to remember things even while their minds are busy with other matters – important aspects of mental arithmetic and reading comprehension. Learning music also requires significant levels of concentration, training children to focus their attention for sustained periods.

Increased coordination:
Just like playing sports, playing and dancing to music helps children develop their motor skills. Making music involves more than the voice or fingers; you also use ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, all at the same time. This helps the body and the mind work together.

Achievement and discipline:
Learning music teaches children to work towards short-term goals, develop routine and practice self-discipline. Setting aside regular time for practice develops commitment and patience. Mastering a new piece of music leads to a sense of pride and achievement, and helps children to learn the value of self-discipline.

Social skills:
Making music with other people (like in a band or choir) improves children’s social and emotional skills. They learn to work together as a team and develop their sense of empathy with others. Researchers have found that when children play music together – from simple rhythms to larger group performances – they are better able to tune into other people’s emotions.
The joy of music:
Music can give children a way to express themselves, to unleash their creativity, to be inspired and uplifted, to relax, and to relieve stress and tension. Just think about listening to a beautiful piece of classical music, singing along to a favourite song with friends, or dancing to a great song on the radio – music can make your heart sing!

Music for life:
With all these benefits, try to expose your child to music as much as possible – listen to music together, sing songs, play rhythm games, go to concerts or make your own instruments together. Your local library, community centre or music society may offer music programs for kids. If your child wants to learn a musical instrument, your options may include a school music program, private music teachers and group music activities such as choirs, recorder groups and bands.

Musical Instruments