Sound Wave
Light, Sound and Waves

Separating loud/soft (loudness) from high/low (pitch)

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Frequency and pitch

Wrong Track: There are more vibrations, so it will be louder.

Right Lines: There are more vibrations each second, so the frequency will be higher, giving a higher pitched sound.

Amplitude and loudness

Wrong Track: With bigger vibrations it will be a higher sound.

Right Lines: If the amplitude of the vibration of the source is bigger, the sound produced will be louder.

Describing sound

Thinking about the learning

The central learning challenge for pupils is for them to develop a clear understanding of the difference between describing sounds in terms of loudness (amplitude) and pitch (frequency).

There are two separate ways of describing sounds here, and the aim must be to help pupils differentiate between them.

Thinking about the teaching

Using terms such as more vibrations or it vibrates more is likely to lead to confusion among your pupils.

Be clear in specifying either:

  • more vibrations in a second (pitch or frequency)


  • each vibration involves a greater to-and-fro movement of the source, or of the air (loudness or amplitude)
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