Duets – Musical Teamwork for Two


We obviously love orchestra music here at Inside the Orchestra, but we also love hearing smaller groups of musicians get together and perform as well. Check out the fun duet videos and activities featuring a smaller group of musicians



What is a Duet?

A duet is a piece of music performed by two people. It doesn’t matter what instruments they’re playing (or voice part they’re singing) – the most important thing is that the music features exactly two people. Duets are like a conversation between two people. You have to pay attention to each other and react and respond to what the other person is doing musically in order to stay together.


React and Response Partner Activity

You too can create art as a duet, reacting to your partners artistic cues. This synchronized drawing activity is a great way for kids to slow down and really pay attention and follow along with their partner.


Introduction to Duets Video

This video, featuring oboist Kathryn Simpson and horn player Steve Simpson, is a great introduction to duets for young musical learners. It demonstrates some duet basics including:

  • Basic communication skills
  • Tempo
  • Pitch
  • Unison and harmony

Watch and listen!


Communication Activity

For Preschool and Elementary Age

You can work on the effective communication skills needed to play duets without ever having to pick up an instrument! Try out this fun blindfolded cooperative obstacle course to encourage communication between your children.

  1. Designate one child as the leader to start. You can either set-up the obstacle course yourself and then guide the leader through it before they begin or have your child set up the course themselves.
  2. They must then lead a partner who is blindfolded through the obstacle course using clearly communicated directions. Younger children can hold the hand of their partner and older children can be encouraged to be entirely hands-off.
  3. Going Further: Kids can take turns being the leader or the follower, change up the course, time it to see how fast they can get through, and more.

Duet Full Performance

Watch and listen as violist Sarah Richardson and bassist Andy Holmes perform a duet by composer Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf. (I know, we love his name too.)


Cooperation STEM Activity

For Elementary Age and Older

Sarah and Andy showed us how bringing their different parts and skills together allowed them to create a beautiful piece of music. Now it’s time for you to work as a team to see what you can create.

We love this marshmallow tower challenge to encourage children to explore creativity and cooperation with a basis in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. Adults, watch this interesting TED talk about what we can learn from this challenge about working as a team.

Provide your children with the following supplies and ask them to build the tallest free-standing tower they can. The marshmallow has to be on the very top of the tower, they can use ONLY the supplies given, and they have 15 minutes to make their free-standing structure. Supplies needed:

Provide your children with the following supplies and ask them to build the tallest free-standing tower they can. The marshmallow has to be on the very top of the tower, they can use ONLY the supplies given, and they have 15 minutes to make their free-standing structure. Supplies needed:

  1. Twenty sticks of spaghetti
  2. One large marshmallow
  3. A yard of masking tape
  4. A yard of yarn

Perform Your Own Duets

  1. Use any of the DIY instruments (or anything around your house) to put together a drum circle. Tap out rhythms and make some funky beats with someone else in your house.
  2. Sing along with these Disney duets. The words are included in case you don’t have them memorized (but we’re guessing that some of your kids won’t need them!).

Duet Playlist