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Orchestra: The String Family Lapbook Unit

Updated on August 9, 2013

Super String Instruments!

Super, spectacular symphonic string instruments! Soothingly sing along with the slow, slippery, sliding bow strokes or skip along with the spirited, sparkling, staccato sounds of strings!

Beautiful string instruments have existed far back in human history. The Bible contains the first record of music in Genesis 4:21, "Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute." String instruments have been created all over the world in many ways and have changed over the years, but they have always been a loved instrument. Have fun learning!

Learn about the string family of instruments in this study unit. Pieces for a String Instrument Lapbook or Notebook are included if you like, or just use the materials, links, and games to start your learning.

String Instrument Family Lapbook Unit - Lapbook Components

Some of the sections have more than one way to document the information. I did this because of the different ages and preferences of my children, so, just pick what works best for you!

· The String Instrument Family: Cover Page

· Bible Verse: Cards & Pocket

· Bible Verse: Copywork Pages

· Bible Verse: Poster / Pocket

· String Instrument Vocabulary: Flap Book

· History of Stringed Musical Instruments: Notebook Pages and Mini Book

· String Instruments through Time and Place: Book

· String Instrument Notebook Page - use with any part of the unit.

· Characteristics of the String Family: Notebook Page and Mini Book

· String Instrument Parts

· Orchestral String Instruments: Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, and Harp Matchbooks

· Non-Orchestral String Instruments: Tab Book

· Rubber Band String Instrument: Accordion Book

· Experience Vibration Experiment: Accordion Book

· Music & Science: Notebook Pages

· My Musical Instrument Creation: Notebook Pages

· Who was Stradivari?: Tri - Fold Book

· Construction of Stringed Instruments

· String Instrument Cards: Flashcards, Matching Game, or Go Fish!

· Stringo Bingo Game

· Instruments of the Orchestra: Tab Book

· Computer Websites: Simple Book

· Book Resources: Simple Book


Strings in the Bible

Lapbook: Flashcards & Pocket, Notebook Pages, Poster / Puzzle

· There are a tremendous amount of Bible verses that involve the playing of stringed instruments!

· The lapbook parts contain a sampling of these verses on flashcards, blank cards to write your own, a pocket to store the cards in the lapbook, 3 notebook pages for copywork and /or memorization, and a poster.

· The poster may cut up into a puzzle to help memorization. I cut just a few pieces for my little guy, and let the older kids cut theirs however they want. They like to play with them and switch with each other for more practice.

History of Stringed Musical Instruments

Lapbook: History of Stringed Musical Instruments: Notebook Pages & Mini Book, String Instruments through Time and Place Book

String Instrument Vocabulary

Lapbook: Vocabulary Flap Book

· Suggested terms for study: banjo, bass, bow, bridge, cello, clef, family, fiddle, fingerboard, guitar, harp, harmony, instrument, lute, lyre, mandolin, melody, neck, octave, orchestra, parts, peg, pick, pitch, pluck, resonance, resonating box, sound holes, strings, symphony, tailpiece, treble, tuning pegs, ukulele, vibration, viola, violin

String Tips

Characteristics of the String Family

Lapbook: Use the Characteristics Notebook Page or Mini Book for notes.

Characteristics of the String Family:

·All members of the string family have strings on them.

·The strings are made of steel, nylon, or animal gut.

·The bowstrings are made of horsehair.

·Most string instruments are played by rubbing the bow across the strings, or plucking the strings with the fingers or a pick.

·String instruments wooden bodies are arched and hollow inside.

·Long necks exist on most stringed instruments.

·The strings are attached tightly to pegs at the top and the bottom tailpiece grid.

·The left hand fingers push on different strings and locations on the strings to make varying pitches.

·The right hand moves the bow across the strings or plucks the strings with the fingers.

·Wood pieces are glued together instead of nailed.

·Many layers of varnish are applied to the outside of string instruments.

Parts of a String Instrument

Lapbook: Cut out and fold a page or two from Enchanted Learning below to add to your lapbook. Research at one of the orchestra sites and label a picture of the parts.

· body · bow · bridge · clamp · fingerboard · frog · horsehairs · neck · peg box · pegs

· sound holes · strings · tailpiece · tuning pegs · others!


Do you play a string instrument?

See results

Orchestral String Instrument Descriptions

Lapbook: Use matchbooks of violin, viola, cello, string bass, and harp in your study.


· The violin is the smallest member of the orchestral string family.

· It has the highest pitch 'soprano' of orchestral string instruments.

· Orchestras include more violins than any other instrument - about 30 per orchestra.

· Violins in an orchestra play two different parts, the 1st part is mostly melody, and the 2nd part can be melody, but many times is harmony.

· The violin is 24 inches long and has 4 strings.

· It has a 29-inch long bow.

· Music is written in the treble clef for violins.

· The violin is held with the chin and shoulder.

· The left hand fingers push on different strings and locations on the strings to make varying pitches.

· The right hand moves the bow across the strings or plucks the strings with the fingers.


· The viola looks like violin but is a little larger.

· It has a slightly lower pitch than violin (by five7 half steps or a 'perfect' 5th).

· There are 10 - 14 violas in a standard orchestra.

· It is 27 inches long and has 4 strings.

· The bow is 29 inches long and stronger than the violin's.

· The viola's strings are thicker than violin.

· Music is written in the alto clef for violas.

· It is held between the chin and shoulder.

· The left hand fingers push on different strings and locations to make varying pitches.

· The right hand moves the bow across the strings or plucks the strings with fingers.


· The cello is the same shape as the violin and viola but is larger.

· It sounds lower (tenor) than the viola, but higher than the bass.

· The larger body gives the instrument a deeper resonance.

· The cello neck is shorter than violin's neck.

· The cello has a long adjustable peg at the bottom to help place the cello in the proper spot for players.

· 8-12 cellos are in a standard orchestra.

· The cello is about 4 feet long and has 4 strings.

· The bow is thicker than a viola bow and is 28 inched long.

· Music is written in the bass clef for cellos.

· Cellists sit in a chair to play with the instrument held between the legs. The neck of the cello rests on the left shoulder.

· The left hand fingers push on different strings and locations to make varying pitches.

· The right hand moves the bow across the strings or plucks the strings with fingers.

String Bass (Also referred to as Bass and Double Bass):

· The string bass is the biggest and lowest (bass) orchestral string instrument.

· It has very harmonic and rhythmic parts to play.

· The bass' deepness gives strength to hold the orchestra together.

· 6-8 cellos are found in a standard orchestra.

· The bass is 6 + feet long from the top to the bottom peg.

· The bass usually has 4 strings, but may have 5 for more pitches.

· Its body is shaped differently than violin, viola, and cello.

· The bow is 26-27 inches long.

· The bow is thicker and heavier than the other bows.

· Music is written in the bass clef for string basses. It sounds one octave below the cello.

· Play standing up or sitting on a high stool.

· Instrument leans against the body with the peg on floor and the neck by left shoulder

· The left hand fingers push on different strings and locations on the strings to make varying pitches.

· The right hand moves the bow across the strings or plucks them with the fingers.


· The harp has a 6½ octave range.

· It is about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

· Some types of harps are the pedal harp, folk harp, lever harp, and multi-course harp.

· The pedal harp is the most common harp for orchestra. It has 47 different sized strings set in a curved wood frame.

· Strings may be made of copper, animal gut, or nylon.

· The tones of each string can be pitched a half step higher or lower with the use of 7 pedals at the bottom.

· A harpist must sit and reach the arms around the harp.

· The strings of a harp are always plucked, not bowed like its family members.

· One story about the creation of the harp tells of a hunter who heard a nice sound from his hunting bow when it vibrated. He tried other sizes of bows and noticed the pitch differences. He helped to create the first harps.

More About the Instruments

Non-Orchestral String Instruments

Lapbook: Non - Orchestral String Instrument

Being a mostly classical musician, my first thought when I think of strings is orchestral instruments. There is a whole branch of string instruments that are not played in orchestras though, but are used in all sorts of music - rock, folk, world, bluegrass, gospel, ancient, medieval, and many more. Here is some information and samples of great string music! Click on the names of the instruments to take you to a video or information page!

Hands-On Activities - Make a String Instrument

Lapbook: My Musical Instrument Creation

Have fun making these homemade string instruments and playing them. These uniquely named instruments are based on real world instruments that look and sound interesting! Try making them with different materials or sizes to experiment with the different sounds you can make. Create other new string instruments with things you have around the house. Which ones sound the best?

Take pictures of the process of making them, and your final product to put into your lapbook or notebook. (See notebook pages.)

Sound & Pitch ~ The Science of Music:

Lapbook: Rubber Band String Instrument Accordion Book, Experience Vibration Experiment Accordion Book, Music & Science Notebook Pages

"Different notes are made by using your finger to press a string against the fingerboard. When the string vibrates at its full length, from the bridge to the peg box, the lowest sound is produced. When the vibrating length is shortened by pressing a finger on a string against the finger board, a higher sound is created because then the string is smaller (shorter)."

Arts Alive Instrument Lab

Use the Music & Science Notebook Pages and Accordion Books to notate your findings of these experiments. Take pictures of your instruments, or compose a piece of music with them for fun!

Strings vibrate when plucked or bowed. ~ Varying vibration speeds cause differing pitches and sounds. ~ Find out how with these experiments!

A simple experiment to try is with the 'instrument' in your body ~ your voice! Place your hand gently on the front of your neck. Sing a high note, sing a low note, try notes in between. What do you feel near your voice box? Can you feel the vibrations that make your vocal sounds? How do they feel different when you sing or speak in new ways?

Sometimes it's really fun to hear something you didn't expect!

Music Games


String Instrument Card Games: Use these for flashcards, matching games (match identical cards or picture to names), or "Go Fish" if you wish! Includes a pocket for storage.

Stringo Bingo Game: Bingo Cards, Caller Cards with string Info on them, Chips, and pockets for storage.


Lapbook: Who was Stradivari? Tri-Fold Book

How It's Made

These wonderful videos are simple but very informative. They feature instrument construction and history.


Lapbook: String Instrument Construction Mini Book

If you have curious hands-on learners, this section will appeal to them! Watch the "How It's Made" videos, click on the websites below, or research about other string makers.

· Which types of wood would you use to build a violin and other string instruments?

· How will different wood change the sound?

· How is the wood cut and shaped?

· Research about how the wood is attached (glue, no nails).

· Why and how do they varnish string instruments?

· Find out about the various shapes and how they affect the sound.

· What is the soft stuff on the bow made of? Did you say horsehair?

· Research what a resonating box is. Try to make one from various objects you have.

· What is the purpose of the "f" holes?

· What materials are used to make the strings?

· How are the strings attached?

· Try to think of a way to make a homemade string instrument. What equipment do you want to try? How will you make the body? What are your strings made of? How will you fasten the strings? How will the instrument be tuned? Explore with several different materials. Compare the sounds with ones your family or friends make. Enjoy the process of creating something unique!!

After learning about string instruments, which one do you like the best?

See results

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