• Instrumental Music Glossary



    The music that supports the melody.


    The way the sound is produced.


    Staccato: short and detached

    Accent: strongly tonguing the note

    Legato: smoothly and connected

    Slur: only tongue the first of more than one note

    Tie: two or more of the same notes connected


    Trumpet, trombone, tuba, French horn,

    Sousaphone, baritone, and euphonium.

    This category of instruments is usually made of brass, silver, gold, nickel, or a combination of metals.

    These instruments also have valves, keys, or a slide. Players buzz the lips into a conical- shaped, metal mouthpiece to make the sound.


    Two players playing together.


    The intensity of the sound made by any instrument.

    p = piano = soft

    mp = mezzo piano = medium soft

    mf = mezzo forte = medium loud

    f = forte = loud

    ff = fortissimo = very loud

    sfz = sfzortsondo = suddenly loud



    The way the lips are shaped against the mouthpiece to make the sound on any wind instrument.


    Several players playing together.



    The mechanism used to hold a reed to a mouthpiece on woodwind instruments.


    The main, most important part of the music.



    Snare drum, bass drum, bells, xylophone, piano, triangle, cymbals, tympani, tambourine, and many others.

    This category includes any instrument that a player hits, strikes, or shakes to make sound.

    These are the oldest of all instruments used today.



    The correct posture and placement of the hands, fingers, and body to play any given instrument.

    Practice Strategies

    The frequency of practice increases the development of the musicianship on any instrument. First and second year players need to practice almost every day.

    Practice should include a short review of familiar music. 80% of  practice time should be spent on newer, challenging music.


    Four players playing together.


    The organization of the beats and/or the notes and length of the sound or silence.



    The speed of the music.

    Presto: very fast

    Andante: medium fast

    Adagio: slowly

    Largo: very slowly


    Three players playing together.



    Flute, clarinet, bassoon, oboe, saxophone, and recorder.

    This category includes any instrument that has a mouthpiece that one blows across

    and/or a reed is used to make the sound.