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Entertaining possibly, but does not cover any essentials
on February 7, 2014
There aren't any better books that I can find for introducing the instruments of the orchestra, however I didn't like this one and I would not use it for teaching. The tone is jaunty but snide. It makes fun of certain instruments and the players of those instruments (there's a big "quack" next to the oboe, and the trumpets are referred to as being obnoxious in some way). I have known several obnoxious trumpet players, but this is not inherent in the instrument, and many of them are very pleasant, thoughtful people.
Also, the text does not cover the essentials of each instrument. It puts them in categories (brass, percussion, etc.) but does not identify what these families mean, what they have in common or what makes each instrument distinct within their category. It includes silly things about composers, like what they looked like (Debussy had horns...who knew? and who cares?) and very little of substance.
The only alternative I can think to recommend is Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, a piece of music that separates the instruments and families so kids can hear what they sound like in isolation before being expected to pick the sound out of the texture.