Discover the Woodwinds

When talking about musical instruments, we often talk about them as being part of a family. That's because some instruments share the same characteristics. They are often made of the same types of materials, usually look similar to one another, and/or produce sound in comparable ways.

The instruments in the woodwind family all used to be made of wood, which gives them their name. Today, they are made of wood, metal, plastic or some combination. You play them by blowing air through the mouthpiece and opening or closing holes with your fingers to change the pitch. The mouthpieces for some woodwinds, including the clarinet, oboe, saxophone, and bassoon, use a thin piece of wood called a reed, which vibrates when you blow across it.