Oboist Mary Greiner with NC Symphony Maestro Bill Curry
Musical instruments are grouped into families. The string family is the largest in the orchestra. The violin is the smallest and highest sounding, the lower pitched viola, the larger and lower still cello and the largest and lowest, the double bass. They play in ensembles like duets, trios, quartets and double quartets. Harp is also in the string family, and pianos have strings inside. Guitar,mandolin, banjo and dulcimers are popular stringed instruments and play a variety of music.
The woodwind family members traditionally were made of wood: the highest and smallest, the piccolo, the flute, the oboe, the clarinet and the bassoon. The clarinet has a single reed and the oboe and bassoon are double reeds as is the bagpipe. The reed is the mouthpiece. The English horn is a lower oboe, often confused with the French horn, an instrument in the brass family with the trumpet, the cornet, the baritone, the trombone and the tuba. Brass instruments play in their own brass groups or in combination with strings. Woodwinds also play with strings or as trios, quartets and quintets.
Percussion has the largest number of separate instruments in their battery, which includes all kinds of drums, chimes, xylophone, marimba, cymbals, and many many hand held noise makers.