Musical Instruments Vocabulary

Below is a list of common musical instruments divided by type. How many instruments do you know? Can you pronounce them all correctly?

  • How do you pronounce the word “guitar”? Answer
    The word guitar is pronounced /ɡɪˈtɑː/ . The “u” is a silent letter. See below to listen to the pronunciation.
  • What kind of instrument is the violin? Answer
    It’s a small stringed instrument made of wood.
  • What traditional instruments are there in your country? Answer
    Here are some examples of traditional musical instruments around the world: in India, there is the sitar (a stringed instrument), in China there is the gu-zheng ( a 21 stringed instrument), in Vietnam there is a bamboo xylophone ( percussion instrument), in Italy there is the mandolin (similar to a guitar), in Australia there is didgeridoo (a wind instrument made from the branch of a tree), in Egypt there is the sistrum ( a u-shaped framed drum) and in Scotland there are the bag pipes (a wind instrument), in Iraq there is the oud (a stringed instrument similar to a lute).    ……Please note that this answer is not an example of how to answer an IELTS question, it’s just some general information for you about instruments in your country – if your country has an instrument which is not in this list, please let me know. Liz 

Vocabulary Practice

Can you label the picture below?

musical instuments


Listen to the answers

  1. microphone
  2. record / vinyl
  3. accordion
  4. bugle
  5. drum
  6. flute
  7. guitar
  8. harmonica
  9. harp
  10. keyboard
  11. piano
  12. saxophone


Types of Musical Instruments

Stringed Instruments

  • guitar
  • violin
  • cello
  • viola
  • harp
  • banjo
  • electric guitar
  • fiddle
  • lute
  • sitar
Listen to Audio


Wind Instruments

  • flute
  • saxophone
  • trumpet
  • pipes
  • recorder
  • tuba
  • oboe
  • bagpipes
  • clarinet
  • bugle
  • harmonica
Listen to Audio


Keyboard Instruments

  • piano
  • electronic keyboard
  • organ

Percussion Instruments

  • drums
  • triangles
  • xylophone / bamboo xylophone
  • wood blocks
  • accordion (oops this is actually a keyboard instrument)
Listen to Audio

Audio for both key board and percussion instruments



IELTS Speaking Part 1: Musical Instruments Questions and Answers (available from Feb 20th)

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  1. hie Liz,
    can you give me some insight for opera shows? what are these ?

  2. Josep Caesar says:

    Turkey, there is Saz or Bağlama ( a 5-12 stringed instrument).

  3. Sapeh, from Borneo Island. Sapes are carved from a single bole of wood. It usually comes with 3 to 5-strings.

  4. Hi Liz,

    Just a humble observation: I think Accordion belongs to the ´Key Board´ family.

    Congratulations for your excellent website and for all the resources you share with us 😉

  5. Dear Liz,

    There is an instrument in Tamilnadu, India called Nadhaswaram. Just I want to you share this information.


  6. It’s a helpful page . . I just want some advice I’m a pakistani girl and a 10Th class student. . I wanna try ielts but I’ve heard its difficult

  7. Hi, Liz
    There is an instrument in Kazakhstan called dombra. Just to let you know 🙂

  8. Hi liz
    I hav just started the ielts class nd i m facing a lot of problems
    Bt now i found ur website nd it is really useful
    I wanna thank u heartly for these useful informations

  9. Hello
    Could you please send me a link to prepare my self for IELTS Exam?
    Thank You

    • This entire website helps you prepare for IELTS on your own for free. Start reading and practicing the 300 pages available.

  10. Akansha Gurung says:

    Hi Liz
    Thank you so much for posting this. Your IELTS lessons are really helpful. I really appreciate your efforts.
    I wanted to share some of my country’s traditional musical instruments. I am from Nepal and we have some interesting musical instruments like Sarnagi (stringed instrument similar to violin), Madal (percussion instrument similar to drums), Basuri (wind instrument similar to flute) and Harmonium (keyboard instrument similar to accordion).
    Hope you’ll post these too.
    Thank you

  11. Number 4 is not a bugle, as a bugle doesn’t have valves, and you can clearly see valves in the picture. It looks like a cornet.

  12. Adamadam says:

    Hi Liz. TAR is one of the traditional musical instruments of AZERBAIJAN. I wish you add it.

  13. ahmed jasim says:

    thank you so much about all your effort to facilitate the Ielts exam .

  14. Just FYI, piano is a stringed instrument!
    Love, AP

  15. Hello Liz. In Iran, we have Kamancheh & Daf.

  16. Thank you for your great post, it is very useful post

  17. Hi liz,
    This lessons are not only for ielts ,they are generally informative.I have learnt thing that i had been ignoring for long .

  18. tala azeez says:

    iwant to help me study the ilets

    • Hi,

      Please look around this site to learn vocabulary, tips and advice for IELTS. Also make sure you check your level of English to make sure you have the right level for the band score you want.
      All the best

  19. Hi LIZ
    Thank you very very much for this post,
    I’m studing english by your website and you are the best.
    In my country, Iraq ,we use (OUD) .I hope to add it to the list of musical instrument.
    Thank you

    • Hi,

      Thanks. I’ve added it to the list. Here’s some more language to help you describe your traditional instrument: The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument which is similar to a lute. It can be distinguished by its smaller neck. The Arabic ouds are larger than their Turkish counterparts and produce a fuller, deeper sound.
      All the best

  20. The tabla .its most popular percussion instruments in India.its a two set of drum . Is playing by calculating tal. Its involved wide use of palms and fingers.

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the information about the drums in your country. Here is some more language to help you talk about it:

      The tabra is a pair of hand drums which usually have different sizes. The right hand drum is usually made of wood while the left hand drum is made of metal such as aluminium or copper. The drums are normally played while seated on the ground. The use of the fingers and palms helps to create a wide range of sounds and rhythms. The basic strokes are made by striking the drums in different places such as in the center or the edge of the surface.

      All the best

      • Urooj John says:

        “Tabla” is widely used in Pakistan as a traditional musical instruments and its compositions.

  21. Aurora Hoxha says:

    Hi dear Liz, I’m trying to study ielts by my self ,and I checked every thing online. But your website it is the best that I find,it’s useful thank you

  22. Thank you so much for this. Always wanted to learn the names of the musical instruments.

  23. Hi Liz,

    Thanks a lot for your postings which are very useful.


    • I’m glad they are helpful.

      • Dear, Liz!
        Very useful lesson!
        What about the balalaika? …”Let your Balalaika sing what my guitar want to say?… Is this song familiar for many people, isn’t it? And the Garmon, wich is still being used in some Slavic countries even nowadays during the festivals and some wedding parties.

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