Within the family of wind instruments, woodwinds are distinguished not by their material, but by the way in which they produce their sound (the vibration of air through a reed or a bevel emits a sound). Contrary to what one might think, woodwind instruments are not necessarily made of wood, even if this was originally true.
The recorder is probably one of the oldest woodwind instruments (the first models date back to prehistoric times). Also known as the "soft flute", "English flute" or "straight flute", it has eight playing holes, one of which is for the thumb to produce high octaves.
The longer the recorder, the lower the tone. There are many variations, from the highest to the lowest: sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, grand-bass, contrabass and sub-bass. The Alto and Soprano recorders are the most common, however, partly because they are more suitable for learning.
The recorder is of great educational value for both children and adults. It is ideal for beginners, is easily portable and there are some very good models available at an affordable price.
The transverse flute shares the same method of sound production as the recorder (characteristic of "woodwind" instruments), but without a "bevel", it is up to the player to blow "bevelled" into the mouthpiece, and is completely different in its mode of operation.
As its name suggests, the transverse flute is played "sideways". Unlike the recorder, which stands upright in front of the player, the transverse flute stands on the right and horizontally. It therefore 'crosses' the mouth to the right.
Other particularities, the flute is made of metal and the holes are not accessible by the fingers, but via trays ("open holes" or "closed holes") and keys (and a tab for the bass). This same system of keys is found on clarinets and oboes.
The clarinet is a very distinctive woodwind instrument. It is characterised by its simple reed and almost cylindrical bore (unlike the saxophone which has a conical bore, for example). Its shape allows it to produce a warm tone in the lower register and a brighter (even piercing) tone in the upper register. Its distinctive sound is often found in wind bands.
With the exception of percussion, the clarinet is probably the instrument with the largest family, the largest number of variations. From the contrabass clarinet to the sopranino clarinet, it covers the entire range of a symphony orchestra. The B-flat model is the most widely used.
Finally, the clarinet can be dismantled into 5 parts. Very useful to transport it.
The saxophone is a very modern "woodwind" instrument (never made of wood !). It was invented in the 19th century by the Belgian Adolphe Sax. Usually made of brass, there are also models made of copper, silver, plastic or gold-plated.
The body of the saxophone consists of 3 parts: the conical body, the bell and the neck. It also has keys (from 19 to 22 depending on the model), like the flute. The sound it produces is very particular and adapted to many musical genres such as Jazz, Rock or Pop.
There are several variations of the saxophone: the alto saxophone (most often tuned to E flat and most commonly used), the tenor saxophone (in B flat) and the baritone saxophone (E flat).