In this quiz you can learn all about some of the instruments that are played in marching bands.
#1. What is the name of this instrument which the player holds out in front of them and blows into the mouthpiece to play?
The trumpet is an instrument in the brass family. To make a sound out of a trumpet the player has to blow into the mouthpiece with their lips together to make a buzzing sound. Doing this makes the air going into the trumpet vibrate and this creates the sound.
#2. Marching bands often have different types of drums. Which family of musical instruments do drums belong to?
Percussion instruments are those that are played by hitting or shaking, which includes all different types of drums. Drums commonly found in a marching band include snare drums, tenor drums and bass drums. Snare drums make a rattling sound when hit while bass drums make a big booming sound. Tenor drums often have a high pitched sound and are sometimes grouped together so that one player may have four or more drums to play.
#3. What is this instrument from the woodwind family called?
The clarinet is an instrument from the woodwind family. The clarinet has a reed attached to the mouthpiece which vibrates when the player blows into the instrument creating the sound. Clarinets have lots of keys and holes which players press or cover with their fingers to play different notes.
#4. This large brass instrument plays the low notes in the band, do you know what it is called?
Tubas are big brass instruments that can weigh as much as 15 kg. Because they are so heavy, players often use straps or a harness to support them if they are marching or standing while playing. In many marching bands in the USA the Sousaphone is used instead of a tuba, as this wraps around the player’s body and so is much easier to march with.
#5. True or False: The saxophone is named after the man who invented it.
The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. Although the saxophone is usually made of brass, it belongs to the woodwind family of instruments because it uses a reed to produce the sound.
#6. Some marching bands use this instrument which is a type of horn named after a country, do you know what it is called?
Although it is usually called a French horn, the modern instrument is actually developed from a German instrument! When playing a French horn the player has to put their hand into the bell of the instrument (the large opening at the end). This gives the horn its special sound and means the player can change the sound of the note by moving their hand. In some marching bands the French horn has been replaced with an instrument called a mellophone. This instrument is played more like a trumpet, so is easier for trumpet players to learn to play and has a clearer sound for use outdoors.
#7. Do you know what this brass instrument is called?
Unlike most brass instruments that have valves or keys to get different notes, the trombone has a slide that the player moves to alter the notes. Trombones are traditionally made of metal, but more recently it has been possible to get trombones made of plastic!
#8. The instrument in this picture is a flute, but do you know which family of instruments it belongs to?
Flutes were originally made of wood but in modern times they are usually made of metal. The flute is held to the side of the player and has a series of keys that the player presses down on to cover holes in the instrument and get different notes. To make a sound the player does not blow directly into the flute, but must blow across the top of the mouthpiece.
#9. Do you know the name of this instrument which the player has to bash together to make a noise?
The cymbals used most often in marching bands are called clash or crash cymbals. To use these cymbals the player holds one in each hand and bashes them together to create a loud crashing sound.
#10. This instrument is like a smaller version of a flute - do you know what it is called?
A piccolo is about half the size of a standard flute and plays some of the highest notes in the band. Like the flute, the player blows over the mouthpiece to make the sound and it has keys for the player to press to get different notes. The piccolo is named after the Italian word for small.