Woodwind refers to a group of instruments in which sound is produced by the vibration of reeds in the mouthpiece (such as with the clarinet, oboe or saxophone) or by the passing of air across the mouthpiece (such as with the flute.) Woodwind instruments have a long, thin column of air. The lowest note is played with all the tone holes closed, when the column is longest. The column is shortened by opening up holes successively, starting from the open end. At the other end, there is something that controls airflow; an air jet for the flute family and cane reeds for other woodwinds.
The term woodwinds also refers to the section of a band or orchestra composed of woodwind instruments. Members of the woodwind family include the recorder, bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, flute and piccolo. If you choose to play a woodwind instrument, you will discover opportunities to participate in a wide variety of musical venues including woodwind ensembles, wind bands, jazz bands, orchestras, concert bands and marching bands. Children as young as five can begin learning the flute, oboe and clarinet. Physical factors such as the size of the child's hands and the development of his or her teeth are important. Because the saxophone and bassoon are larger and heavier, it is usually best to have children start playing after age six.