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Selecting an Instrument

We have four possible instruments to choose from: (In order of highest to lowest sounding) Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass. Start here, by listening to all of the orchestra instruments being played together. Each instrument has a unique sound and feel.

As you watch, start thinking about what sounds you like the best (higher/lower). All of the string instruments can be played by any gender and any size person. 


The violin is the smallest string instrument and the highest sounding.  It is played sitting on the shoulder. The violin oftentimes plays the melody, but can also play harmony parts. Violin is one of the most popular instruments in the world, which can make it very competitive, but there are also more violins in the orchestra than any other instrument. 


Like the violin, the viola is played on the shoulder, but has a more mellow tone and is a little deeper in pitch. Viola is a great alternative for someone looking for the feel of a violin,  but the sound of a cello. There are fewer violists in the orchestra, which means there are more opportunities and less competition. Sometimes, the viola has the melody, but it mostly provides the rich harmonies, creating more depth to the music. 


The cello is a larger instrument played sitting down and held between the knees. It can play low and high pitches, which makes it incredibly versatile as a solo instrument. It has a soulful, mellow sound that resembles the human voice. Students who play the cello at McKamy will have a cello rental at home, and a school cello so they do not have to bring the cello back and forth to school. 


The bass, sometimes called the "double bass," is the foundation of the orchestra. It is the largest and deepest-sounding instrument. With its low register, it makes the orchestra sound fuller. You can play sitting down or standing. Bass can be found in many different genres of music (classical, jazz, pop). Students who play bass at McKamy would have a home rental bass and a school bass so they do not have to bring the bass back and forth to school. 


The harp is a specialty instrument that is played sitting down and by plucking the strings. The strings on a harp resemble a piano. The harp is a beautiful and lyrical instrument. Harp students will learn how to do everything including reading music and playing with both hands. Previous piano experience is a bonus. Harp students perform with the orchestra typically on 1-3 concerts a year. 


The harp is available as a second instrument for any student enrolled in Orchestra. Students would still participate in orchestra class on one of the four string instruments, and take lessons once a week with the harp instructor. This is an incredibly unique opportunity not found at many other schools! 

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