The flute is the oldest of all instruments that produce pitched sounds (not just rhythms), and was originally made from wood, stone, clay or hollow reeds like bamboo. Modern flutes are made of silver, gold or platinum; there are generally 2 to 4 flutes in an orchestra. A standard flute is a little over 2 feet long and is often featured playing the melody. You play the flute by holding it sideways with both hands and blowing across a hole in the mouthpiece, much like blowing across the top of a bottle. Your fingers open and close the keys, which changes the pitch.
A shorter version of the flute is called the piccolo, which means small in Italian. At half the size of a standard flute, piccolos play the highest notes of all the woodwinds; in the orchestra one of the flute players will also play piccolo if that instrument is required. The high piping sound of the piccolo is also heard in traditional drum corps and marching band music.