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Sounds can change in shrillness or deepness- that is, in their pitch. When we hear changes in pitch, it means that the sound waves coming to our ears are changing in frequency. Frequency is the number of sound waves that occur in one second. The higher the frequency is, the higher the pitch will be. The lower the frequency is, the lower the pitch will be.


High Frequency Wave

Low Frequency Wave

The chart below compares characteristics of musical instruments with whether their pitch is high or low. A high frequency wave produces a high pitch while a low frequency wave produces a low pitch.
Lower Pitch Higher Pitch
Long Short
Big Small
Loose Tight
Thick Thin
Use the chart above and your observations of each picture. Determine if the instrument would normally produce a high pitch or a low pitch.

1. Piccalo

2. Bass Drum

3. Triangle

4. Tuba

5. Cello

6. Violin

Highlight the box below to check your answers.
1. High pitch 2. Low pitch 3. High pitch 4. Low pitch 5. Low pitch 6. High pitch
Extension Activity

Do the following activity to determine what the size and shape of a vibrating object has to do with its pitch.


  • Small box (shoe box, wooden box) open at the top
  • Rubber bands that vary in lengths and thickness


  1. Using only one rubber band, put the rubber band around the box so it stretches across the opening at the top. Pluck the rubber band.
  2. Next, tighten the band by pulling it tight from underneath the box. Keep it tight and pluck the rubber band again. Record your observations in your science journal.
  3. Place several rubber bands of the same lengths but different widths on the box and pluck each of them. Again, record your observations in your science journal.
  4. Place bands of the same thickness but different lengths, around the box and pluck each band. Once more, record your observations in your science journal.


  • What is the relationship of the size and shape of the vibrating rubber band to the pitch it produced?
  • List some instruments that prove your conclusion and how each instrument changes pitch.


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Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 6th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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