The Percussion Family
The percussion family is the largest in the orchestra. Percussion instruments include any instrument that makes a sound when it is hit, shaken, or scraped. It’s not easy to be a percussionist because it takes a lot of practice to hit an instrument with the right amount of strength, in the right place and at the right time. Some percussion instruments are tuned and can sound different notes, like the xylophone, timpani or piano, and some are untuned with no definite pitch, like the bass drum, cymbals or castanets.
Percussion instruments keep the rhythm, make special sounds and add excitement and color. Unlike most of the other players in the orchestra, a percussionist will usually play many different instruments in one piece of music. The most common percussion instruments in the orchestra include the timpani, xylophone, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, bass drum, tambourine, maracas, gongs, chimes and celesta.