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Nic Nac Violin

The String Section

The instruments of the string section are crafted by carefully carving, shaping and glueing wood pieces together, and covering them with several coats of varnish. No nails or screws are used at all. Each instrument has four strings, the vibrations of which makes the instrument sound. String instruments come in many sizes: the larger the instrument, the lower the sound, the smaller the instrument, the higher the sound. They are very versatile because so many rich, lyrical (singing), expressive and dramatic tones can be produced by them.

Sound is made on string instruments by playing their strings two ways. Usually you draw a bow across them. Sometimes you pluck them.

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).



  • Smallest member of the String family
  • Highest pitched family member
  • Fits under the chin while being played
  • To mute the tones, a clamp is sometimes placed on the violin's bridge.
  • The clamp looks like a small comb.
  • It causes the tone to be muffled and softer.

Visit the Orchestra Pit to watch and listen to Walter Prystawski, NAC Orchestra Concertmaster, demonstrate the violin.



  • A little larger than the violin
  • Has a lower and warmer tone
  • Fits under the chin while being played
  • Plays a 5th lower than the violin
  • Because it is slightly larger than a violin, you may need a larger hand to play it comfortably.


  • The bass member of the violin family
  • Played with a shorter and thicker bow
  • The player sits to play
  • The cello rests on the floor supported by a retractable spike and is held between the knees
  • It's larger body assures deeper resonance

Visit the Orchestra Pit to watch and listen to Amanda Forsyth, NAC Orchestra Principal Cellist, demonstrate the cello.


Double Bass

  • Lowest pitched member of the string family
  • So large that it can be taller than the musician
  • Two bow types: the French style bow (held overhand like the violin bow) or the German style bow (held with the palm up)
  • Widely used in jazz where it is mostly played by plucking the strings (pizzicato)
  • Can be played standing up or sitting on a stool
  • An extension at the top of the lower string allows for deeper notes to be played, or sometimes a fifth string is added for the same purpose

Meet NAC Orchestra string musicians!

Check out the NAC Orchestra and Friends String Interviews.