Educational Materials for Teachers
What is an orchestra?
An orchestra is a large group of musicians who play on a variety of instruments. It is usually divided into four main sections: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. There can be as few as 35 or as many as 120 musicians playing together, depending on the piece of music that is being played.
The orchestra has changed in size and instrumentation throughout its history. About 1700 (the Baroque Period of music) the orchestra included strings, oboes and horns. Sometimes flutes, trumpets and timpani were added.
In the mid 18th century (Classical Period), the orchestra usually included strings and two of each wind instrument - flutes, oboes, horns and bassoons. As the orchestra grew in size, it became important to have a conductor to lead the group.
By the end of the 18th century (Romantic Period), the standard orchestra also included 2 clarinets, 2 trumpets and timpani.
In the late 19th century and on to present day, composers often write for an orchestra that includes trombones, tuba, harp and a variety of additional percussion instruments. These may include cymbals, bass drum, snare drum, piano, harp and celesta.
The Jackson Symphony Orchestra varies in size, depending on the works being performed during its concerts. At the Christmas Gift to the Community concerts, the orchestra is normally composed of 22 players. For the Mahler "Titan" Symphony, the orchestra expanded to 80 musicians!
Follow the links below for educational materials about the various topics:
Visit the School Concert page for curriculum which coincides with the current year’s concert.
Visit these webpages for lots of fun musical activities: