Our latest teacher resource pack focuses on the various string instruments of the orchestra: the violin, viola, cello, double bass and the harp.

We have created six versions of each that are in the following order:

  • Full colour poster (this provides you with the answers to the worksheets too)
  • Basic colour poster
  • Infants worksheet
  • First and second class worksheet
  • Third and fourth class worksheet
  • Fifth and sixth class worksheet

The worksheets range from a colouring in exercise for infants, all the way up to a reading and ‘name the parts’ exercise for fifth and sixth classes. All worksheets are in greyscale and printer/photocopier friendly.

We hope you and your class enjoy using these worksheets and, as always, we would welcome any feedback you might have. If this is your first time using one of our resource packs, feel free to have a look at the two previous instalments focusing on traditional Irish instruments and graphic notation.

Best wishes,

Killian, Shane and Chris

To download the resource, click on the image below:

DabbledooMusic Resource - Guide to Orchestra Strings Resource


Below is some useful information about each instrument (which is included in the resource) along with some recordings which you can play in the classroom to demonstrate these different string instruments.


Violin

The violin is one of the most common classical instruments. In an orchestra, there are two big groups of violins. First violins play the difficult melody parts, while the second violins look after the harmony parts.

A violins strings are stretched across the bridge from nut to tailpiece and tuned using tuning pegs. These use friction to hold the strings in place. They are tuned to the notes G-D-A-E.

The strings are played by moving a bow back and forth over them. The player, or violinst, holds the strings down at certain points on the fingerboard to play different notes. The body vibrates, the sound escapes through the f-holes and this is what we hear.

- Hilary Hahn - J.S. Bach: Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor


Viola

The viola is slightly larger than the violin and has a lower and deeper sound. It plays the accompaniment parts within an orchestra or string quartet. Its strings are tuned C-G-D-A.

The skinny part of the viola body in the middle is called the waist. The decorative piece of wood on the top of the pegbox is called the scroll.

The strings are stretched from nut to tailpiece, down the neck and over the bridge. The violin player, or violist, bows the strings to produce the sound. By holding down the strings at certain points of the fingerboard, different sounds can be made.

- Igor Stravinsky - Elegy for Viola Solo


Cello

The cello was designed in the late 1600s. The cello player, or cellist, plays it with a bow or plucking the strings. Like the viola, its strings are tuned C-G-D-A. The cellist tunes it by moving the tuning pegs in the pegbox. The top of the cello is made from spruce and the back and sides are made from maple.

The tip of the bow is where it is lightest, so one plays quietly by playing close to here. The bow can be tightened or loosened using the screw at the end. The cello is played with its endpin resting on the floor to support its weight.

- Bartok: Rumanian Folk Dances played by Janos Starker


Double Bass

The double bass is the largest and lowest pitched bowed string instrument in the orchestra. It is tuned E-A-D-G and it is kept in tune by moving the machine heads in the headstock. This is different to the other string instruments as the strings are thicker and longer so need these metal gears to hold them in place.

To allow the player to reach the higher notes on the fingerboard, the shoulders are more sloped than other instruments. The strings are stretched from nut to tailpiece across the bridge and are played either with a bow or ‘pizzicato’ (with the fingers). Like a cello, it has an endpin to support its weight.

The bow stick is made from ebony wood and the hair is made from Mongolian horse hair!

- Ron Carter Trio - Samba de Orpheus


Harp

The earliest known harps date back to 3500BC. The design has developed over the centuries but they basically consist of a wooden triangle with strings stretched across it. The harpist plays it by plucking the strings with their fingers.

The orchestral harp that is pictured above is around six feet tall! It has a pillar and neck that are made from maple. The neck also contains the tuning pins. Each string is a different length and a different note is created depending on this length.

The strings are stretched from the neck to the soundboard. This is made of spruce which vibrates each note and makes it louder. Pedals are used to alter the pitch of the strings so it can play in different musical keys.

- Carolan's Dream

- Joanna Newsom - The Sprout and The Bean