As someone just learning music terminology you may be overwhelmed and simply want the simple questions answered such as “What are the different woodwind instruments?” I, a representative of Hannah’s Musical Hope, know I felt overwhelmed when starting out. The three main kinds of woodwinds are flute, clarinet, and saxophone. These three main kinds have more specific types as well, but all are very similar.
There are other kinds of woodwinds as well such as the bassoon and oboe, but they are more complicated to learn. I wouldn’t recommend for a beginner, they use a double reed, a with two layers of wood, and is played differently than a singular reed. The alto saxophone is the most common starter saxophone, but some start off on tenor. B flat clarinet is what I would recommend for beginners, and a flute in the key of C is recommended for beginners. After you start out with one of these you can expand and try things such as baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, or piccolo, which is a smaller version of the flute.
Flutes are the most common exception to general facts about woodwinds. They are very unique, but still have always been considered woodwinds. Flutes used to be made of wood; however, now they are made of metal. Reeds, and keys are the easiest ways to identify an instrument as woodwind, brass instruments typically have valves or slides.
All woodwinds have keys, small buttons pressed to change the pitch of the sound. These are what allows different notes to be played. A series of keys being pressed down will make one specific note. This is different than other instruments, such as brass. When playing a brass instrument, a musician can press down a valve and make several different notes depending on how they shape their mouth. This can be very complicated to get the hang of; you have to be able to identify which note you are playing and change it to your desired note. Woodwinds do not have this option, one key or series of keys can only make one note.
The general shape of woodwinds is similar, a flute is like a sideways clarinet, and a saxophone is like a curved clarinet. All of these instruments have the same basic design, a long instrument covered in what seems like randomly placed keys. I can assure you that these keys are not randomly placed. They are designed so you can easily hold the instrument. Your right hand will always be farthest from you. When you first pick up any new instrument it will feel uncomfortable to hold, it will feel awkward and you won’t be sure where to put your hands. Once you get past this phase, picking it up and putting your fingers on the correct keys will come naturally. Learning a new kind of instrument for the first time will always be rough, weather it’s brass, percussion, strings, or woodwind.
If you have any more questions about kinds or types of instruments please comment. If you want to add anything, or leave any thoughts please comment as well. “You are the music while the music lasts,” -T.S. Eliot. Happy playing!