A lesson plan all about untuned percussion

In this article you’ll find a few ideas for creating a music lesson plan all about untuned percussion instruments.

You could have the students make their own drums. Students can make their own drums if you have enough materials, otherwise you could do it as a class project. You will need an empty coffee can or other large can, a sheet of rubber / heavy plastic or a chamois for the drumhead, a large rubber band, a marker or chalk, scissors and a pencil or other small stick to play it with.

The can can be placed upright on the drumhead material. Mark out a circle that is a few centimeters (1-2 inches) larger than the diameter of the can. Cut out the circle; stretch it tightly over the open end of the can, and secure it with the rubber band. Tap our rhythms with the pencil or stick.

Some cultures in Africa use “talking drums” to mimic spoken language. Have the students break out into small groups and take turns playing a message to their peers with a drum, handclaps, or other makeshift percussion instrument. Make up a game to see if anyone else in the group can understand the content of the message.

You can use echo or call and response rhythms very effectively. Using your home made drums, clapping or using traditional percussion instruments you can play a series of rhythms and have students echo them back to you.

Explain the difference between tuned and tuned; this can also be described as definite vs. indefinite pitch, or tone vs. noise. You could have a quiz where you name an instrument and ask the class to identify them as untuned or tuned.

You can spend some time talking about idiophones and membranophones – what they are and how to know which is which. Students could identify them as one or the other when you name them.

Have students make percussion instrument flash cards, from artwork provided here at the Fun Music Company website. Students can write the names of the instruments on the back of the cards after cutting them out.

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