Instrument Families

One of the first lessons I like to do with pre-schoolers is teaching about the families of instruments. I try to use instruments that the students likely already know as examples, as well as introducing them to some instruments that they may be new to them. 

Instruments are divided into categories based on how they make a sound. There are 4 families of instruments: Percussion, String, Woodwind, and Brass. Having students identify how a particular instrument produces sound is a great way to encourage critical thinking, as well as the application of math and science. It requires them use skills like deductive reasoning and experimentation.

Below is a list of instruments sorted into the families they belong to:


Drums, Bells, Shakers, Triangle, Clapping


Guitar, Bass, Violin, Cello, Piano


Flute, Clarinet, Recorder, Saxophone  


Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, French Horn


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