Stringed Instruments

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11469

They say guitar players have a lot of pluck, and violinists are artistic because they can draw a bow. Learn about the sounds made by stringed instruments, enjoy a unique music video, and try one out!

categories

Musical Arts, Physical Science

subject
Science
learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

What do these instruments all have in common?

three types of stringed instruments

In the previous Related Lesson in our Sound and Music series, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned that all musical instruments are categorized into one of four families.

  • Do you remember how instruments are categorized?

Tell your teacher or parent the answer.

Instruments are categorized by the sound they make and how they produce that sound. In order to figure out what family of musical instruments you will be learning about in this lesson, review your answer from the beginning of the lesson. Are you able to identify what the three instruments have in common? Tell a teacher or parent.

The guitar, banjo, and violin are all stringed instruments because their sound is created by rubbing or plucking their strings.

To discover the sounds created by stringed instruments, play the following "Uptown Funk" - Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars - String Orchestra Cover (EclecticColour) video two times. The first time, only listen to the music. Do not watch the video while you listen. As you listen, write down what you hear.

Be sure to include the following observations:

  • Describe the sounds being produced.
  • What do you think the soundwaves for each instrument look like?
  • Do the instruments have a high or low frequency?
  • What instruments do you think you are hearing?
  • What do the sounds have in common?

The second time you play the video, watch the musicians as they play. Were your predictions about the types of instruments being played correct? Make connections between the instruments you see and the sounds you hear. Discuss your observations with a teacher or parent:

 

Stringed instruments create sounds when their strings are rubbed or plucked. This movement causes the strings to vibrate, producing a unique sound. A few stringed instruments include the guitar, banjo, violin, cello, harp, and bass.

  • Can you think of any other stringed instruments?

Share your response with a teacher or parent.

Next, continue learning about the different types of stringed instruments by reading Instrument Families | String Instruments (Classics for Kids, Cincinnati Public Radio, Inc.). Be sure to listen to the sounds created by each instrument.

  • So, what type of pitch (frequency) and amplitude (volume) does a stringed instrument have?

Look at the following sound waves. Describe the pitch and amplitude of the violin and guitar to your parent or teacher:

  • Did you say the sound waves show the instruments have a high pitch and low amplitude?

That is the correct answer! You can see the notes being played by the stringed instruments have a high pitch because the sound waves have a high frequency. For the most part, the waves do not travel too high above their resting position, indicating a low amplitude. Often, stringed instruments will have a high pitch and low amplitude, although this can vary depending on the notes being played.

If you are interested in learning more about pitch and amplitude, be sure to check out our All About Sound series, found in Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

  • Do you want to investigate a stringed instrument controversy?

Move on to the Got It? section to find out what this controversy is, and develop your opinions about the great debate!

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