Instruments from Various Cultures

Title: Instruments from Various Cultures

Grade: 2

Art Discipline:


Time Frame:

35 minutes

Lesson Overview: Students review the instrument families, compare them with instruments from several cultures, and create a picture of their own instrument.

GLO(s): 2.Community Contributor, 3. Complex Thinker

Arts Benchmark: How the Arts Shape and Reflect Culture – FA.2.2.4: Describe instrument families and sounds from various cultures.

Rubric based on Arts Benchmark:



Partially Proficient


Describe instrument families and sounds from various cultures, with accuracy.

Describe instrument families and sounds from various cultures, with no significant errors.

Describe instrument families and sounds from various cultures, with a few significant and/or minor errors.

Describe instrument families and sounds from various cultures, with many significant errors.

Key Arts Vocabulary: string, woodwind, brass, percussion

Classroom Set Up:   Regular seating at desks.

Materials & Equipment needed:

  • CD player
  • "Simple Gifts," Bowmar Orchestral Library, Series 2, Music USA, BMR05078, Track 1.
  • Pictures and short recordings of different types of instruments from different countries (Google musical instruments – "name of country" e.g., musical instrument – Japan/Indonesia/India/France)
  • Paper, pencils/crayons
  • Once Upon A Sound. VHS or DVD, Clearvue & SVE, N6CL1196-CVX or N6CL1196-DVDX (Available at

Prior to this lesson, students need to know the sounds of the different instrument families (string, woodwind, brass, percussion) and some characteristics of each of the families.

Teaching Tip: Show students the DVD Once Upon a Sound before this lesson to review the different instrument families.

# Minutes






We have spent some time looking at pictures and listening to different types of orchestral instruments.

How many families are there in the orchestra? (four)

What are they? (string, woodwind, brass, percussion)

Describe how the instruments in each of the families are played? (string – pluck or bow; woodwind – blow; brass – blow; percussion – tapping; shaking)


check mark


Today, I will play some music for you.  We will listen to this selection several times.

I would like to see how many instrument families you can name.  Wait for my signal to respond.  (Play "Simple Gifts" and have students identify the families in each variation.)


check mark


The instruments played in “Simple Gifts” are familiar to us in the Western culture. Let’s look at pictures of instruments from different countries. 

(Teacher note: Share images downloaded from a Google search as suggested in the “materials/equipment” section.) 




The instruments may not look the same as the ones we are familiar with but can you guess which family the instrument might be from? How would it be played?  How can you tell?     check mark
Now choose an instrument family.  Imagine that you are given the opportunity to create a brand new instrument.  It does not have to be an instrument that you have seen but it should be able to fit into one of the four families.  Please draw it.  When you are done, I would like for you to tell me about your instrument. How do you play it?  What sound does it make? check mark    


Closing Reflection with students:

Although different countries have slightly differently shaped instruments, could they be put into families like the orchestra?  Why? 



check mark

Responding (Questions to ask students before, during, or after an activity in the lesson to elicit their thinking about their own work or about work they are studying):

Step 1: Describe

Step 2: Interpret

Step 3: Evaluate

Describe the instruments in the string/woodwind/brass/percussion family.  Describe how the sounds are produced.

Do other cultures have similar instruments?  How are they similar/different?

How did the different instruments affect the sounds of the variations?

Which family of instruments do you like the best? Why?

If you had a choice of an instrument, which would you play?  Why?