Jeff Lynne of ELO Electric Guitar

Rock & Roll Band!: Meet the Instruments

Join our band!

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has its very own band: the Backbeats!

Join the Backbeats as they introduce the instrument families most commonly found in rock music: guitar, keyboard, and percussion. In “Meet the Instruments,” students learn to describe the way sound is produced by various instruments from each family through live demonstrations—and even perform along with the band! By investigating the roles of the musicians who play each type of instrument, including Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, students discover how classic rock and roll songs are arranged.


Related content areas: Fine arts, language arts, science
Level: grades K-4
Days offered: Tuesday–Friday (October to June)
Times offered: 10:00am or 11:30am
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: Up to 150 students per session
Available supplemental materials: See below!

Register for This Class

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The program is FREE for schools within zip codes that begin with 440, 441, 442, or 443. Regional groups can participate in Rockin’ the Schools for a discounted rate.

Questions? E-mail us at [email protected].


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"Meet the Instruments" focuses on three families of instruments: guitar, keyboard, and percussion. Hear some of these instruments in action in these historic videos from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's archives!

Jon Anderson of Yes performs an excerpt of the song "Starship Trooper" on an acoustic guitar (guitar family).

Little Richard performs a blues on the piano (keyboard family).

Jab'O Starks and Clyde Stubblefield, who both worked with James Brown, perform on the drums (percussion family).

Instrument Families Worksheet

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This worksheet is designed to help your students test their knowledge of the instrument families taught in "Meet the Instruments."

The worksheet shows images of instruments and instrument accessories. The instructions read:

Musical instruments come in families. Draw a line from each musical instrument to its family name.

Instrument Families Worksheet

1.84 MB

Click the link to download a PDF copy of this worksheet.

"What Does It Sound Like?" Activity

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Learning to identify sounds with the objects that produce them is an important part of understanding music. In this activity, students will explore everyday objects visually and aurally, and learn to identify which objects make which sounds.

You Will Need

  • A variety of everyday objects that make different sounds (e.g. keys, empty glass, wooden object, whistle, etc.)


  • Grades K-2


  1. Place objects on a table at the front of the classroom. Let the students see what each object looks like.
  2. Ask students to describe what kind of sound they think each object will make.
  3. Have students close their eyes or turn around. The teacher should then produce a sound with one of the objects.
  4. Have students open their eyes and vote on which object you just used to make the sound.
  5. Discuss with the class how the “actual” sound compares to their original guess.
  6. Repeat with the other objects.


  • Make a sound with a mystery object and have students hypothesize about what kind of object might have produced the sound. Have students take turns taking the role of sound producer.
  • Experiment with making sounds with two objects at once and asking students to guess which objects combined to make the sound.

What Does It Sound Like? Activity

45.57 KB

Click here to download a copy of these activity instructions as a Word document.

Guitar and Bass Guitar Comparison

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The guitar and bass guitar are from the same instrument family—can your students identify the similarities and differences between the two instruments? This slide deck is designed to help students learn to identify parts of the guitar, and to see how it compares visually to the bass guitar. Download the PowerPoint file below.


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Rock & Roll Instrument Families Playlist

Instruments come in families. Just like human families, members have some characteristics in common and others that differ. The main instrument families in a rock and roll band are the guitar, keyboard, and percussion families. Musicians work as a team to make music, and each instrument contributes a unique sound.

Download the playlist PDF below for more information about the examples in this playlist!


Inductee Biographies

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Read more about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees covered in this class!