Understanding the Orchestra

General Knowledge Workshops for Teenagers

Degas: The Orchestra at the Opera

So much wonderful music has been written for the orchestra! For developing musicians, learning about other instruments is essential to understanding the breadth and richness of classical music. This workshop examines the instruments of the orchestra, how they work, and how composers use them, and explores the variety of sounds they can achieve. Help with identifying instruments by sound is included.

For high school students, aged 12 to 18

This workshop will help with:

  • Theory, 4th grade and upward
  • Musicianship, 5th grade and upward
  • Music Craft, Preliminary and upward

Course Outline

Session 1

  • Discussion: The Colour of Sound
  • Families of Instruments
  • The String Family

Session 2

  • The Woodwind Family
  • A Brief History of the Orchestra

Session 2

  • The Brass Family
  • Orchestration: Arranging for Orchestra
  • Afternoon Tea

    • The Percussion Family
    • Conductors and Conducting
    • Summing up

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    General information about the workshops


    “This session was very engaging and interesting. Topics covered were very relevant and useful in understanding components of the orchestra other than our own instruments”

    “This was a great course for those who want to learn the basics of instruments and conducting”

    More about Susan Deas

    Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney.

    More about Susan's qualifications

    Read what people have said about Susan's other courses

    Susan's other music courses