A Kid’s Guide to Musical Instruments
Musical instruments are magical for kids. If you’re hoping to combine your child’s love for music with learning Spanish, then this guide is for you!
Music is universal. As human beings, we have been making music for thousands of years. Everything around us has a rhythm or a beat, so it is not surprising that music is one of the greatest and most interesting activities for kids to practice.
The goal of this blog post is to combine your kids’ interest in music and learning Spanish so they can learn all about musical instruments, how to talk about their musical interests, what classification of musical instruments to use, and useful related vocabulary.
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All About Musical Instruments for Kids
Los instrumentos musicales (musical instruments) are all those objects built with the only purpose of producing sounds and tones that can be combined to create music. The sounds and tones are usually produced by resonant systems and vibrations.
As humans, we have been creating music for thousands of years! Archeological excavations found 70,000 year old flutes made out of bone!
Searching for more ancient treasures and information of old civilizations, experts have found drums, string, and wind instruments that were used by those ancient societies to create music.
We have proof that our ancestors used music for hunting, recreating natural sounds, religious rituals, and even just for fun. So, if almost every civilization created music, is there a way to keep track of all the different kinds of musical instruments in the world?
Actually, yes! There is a way—let’s learn about it.
Classification of Instruments for Kids in Spanish
When dealing with huge quantities of information the best thing we can do is classify it.
La clasificación (classification), according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a systematic arrangement of objects in groups or categories to establish criteria.
This means that when we classify objects we do it taking into consideration their qualities and characteristics—and it is no different with musical instruments.
The oldest classification for musical instruments was created in China thousands of years ago, but today, we use a classification that was born in India during the 1st century.
This system was so popular, it was adapted hundreds of years later by Victor-Charles Mahillon—later by Erich von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, and music experts and academics still use it to this day.
This classification divides the instruments in:
- Aerophone instruments – instrumentos aerófonos
- Chordophone instruments – instrumentos cordófonos
- Idiophone instruments – instrumentos idiófonos
- Membranophone instruments – instrumentos membranófonos
With time this system was simplified into:
- Chord instruments – instrumentos de cuerdas
- Percussion instruments – instrumentos de percusión.
- Wind instruments – instrumentos de viento
This last classification is the one we are going to use to introduce musical instruments to kids in Spanish because it is the most commonly used when learning about musical instruments for beginners.
Los instrumentos de percusión (percussion instruments) are those that create music through vibrations. Those vibrations can be produced by a tense membrane or patch—made of organic and synthetic material—or by the whole body of the instrument.
To create the sound, you can strike the instrument with your hands, baquetas (drumsticks), and escobillas (brushes). Each way makes the sound different and leads to different rhythms.
Here are some examples of percussion musical instruments for kids in Spanish:
Percussion Instruments for Kids in Spanish
|conga drum||las congas|
|kettle drum||el timbal|
|metal reed drum||el tambor metálico de lengüetas|
|Peruvian box||la caja peruana|
|tambourine||el tamborín/ la pandereta|
|steel drums||los tambores metálicos|
Los instrumentos de cuerda (string instruments) are those that you can produce sounds through the vibration of one or more strings.
To create harmonious sounds, las cuerdas (strings) have to be tense. The act of tensing the strings to create the desired sound is called afinar, or tuning.
To make the strings sound you can pulsar (pulse), frotar (rub) and percutir (strike) them. Lastly, sound is amplified through la caja de resonancia (resonance box).
Here is a vocabulary list of the most common string musical instruments to teach your kids about in Spanish.
String Instruments for Kids in Spanish
|double bass||el contrabajo|
Los instrumentos de viento (wind instruments) are those instruments that produce sound through the vibration caused by the wind inside them. They don’t usually need strings or membranes to sound, because the wind is enough to produce the sound.
To correctly produce sound with these instruments, you have to learn how to correctly exhale into the instrument to make it sound.
Wind instruments can be divided into two types:
- Metal instruments – instrumentos de metal
- Wood instruments – instrumentos de madera
Here is a list of the most common wind musical instruments and their names in Spanish.
Wind Instruments for Kids in Spanish
|cornet||el cornetín/la corneta|
|English horn||el corno inglés|
|pipe organ||el órgano de tubos|
|transverse flute||la flauta transversa|
Whoa! We learned a lot of new words and instruments!
Download here to review all this new information about musical instruments for kids.
Parts of the Instruments
A key part of teaching about musical instruments for kids in Spanish, is how those instruments work and their parts.
Here is a vocabulary list with the most important parts of different instruments in Spanish.
Parts of the Instruments for Kids in Spanish
|air column||la columna de aire|
|sounding mast||la caja de resonancia|
Words Related to Musical Instruments for Kids
We can talk about musical instruments for kids without reviewing some of the most used words in music.
These words are great to teach about music instruments for kids that are learning Spanish, so they can be able to talk about their interest in Spanish.
Check out the next vocabulary list with these words and their Spanish translation.
Music Related Words in Spanish
|play||tocar / interpretar|
|sheet music||la partitura|
|in tune||afinado / entonado|
|loud||ruidoso / ruidosa|
|out of tune||desafinado / desentonado|
Download our fun worksheet to review all these new adjectives here.
Music Agrupations in Spanish
|chamber music||la música de cámara|
|marching bands||las bandas musicales|
|rock band||el grupo de rock|
|symphony orchestra||la orquesta sinfónica|
What Are the Best Musical Instruments for Kids?
There is a group of instruments that a man called Carl Orff suggested could be used to teach kids music in school.
Besides using different parts of the body to mark the rhythm—like snapping and clapping— Mr. Orff also suggested the use of simple musical instruments for kids like the following:
|clashing plates||los platillos entrechocados|
|metal triangles||los triángulos de metal|
|suspended plates||los platillos suspendidos|
Let’s Work on Our Spanish!
Learning music is a great way to expand our children’s worlds—as well as their Spanish learning!
Young children have an incredible ability to pronounce foreign and unfamiliar sounds and understand complex grammar rules. The earlier they begin, the easier it is for them to learn—although any age is a great time to start!
Currently, Spanish ranks among the top five most commonly spoken languages in the world, and by knowing Spanish, your child will communicate more easily with those around them. Due to its popularity, there’s a strong chance your child will encounter people who speak the language at school, on the playground, or around the community. With even a basic understanding, they can start and carry conversations that enrich their lives.
Do you need support in your classroom? Homeschool Spanish Academy provides 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 online Spanish classes for K-12 students. We can help alleviate the difficulty of having many students of varying levels of performance. Check out our group class page and give a look to the content we can provide you and your children.
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