Creative ways to use percussion in the elementary music classroom

Teaching a lesson about percussion in music class? here are a few ideas that are suitable for elementary through to junior high school.

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. The circle can then be cut out, stretched tightly over the can and secured with the rubber band. The pencil or stick can then be used to play our rhythms

In africa some cultures mimic language with “talking drums” Students can separate into small groupings and alternate playing a message to the rest of their group with these homemade drums, hand clapping or other simple percussion instruments. Make up a game to see if anyone else in the group can understand the content of the message.

Call and response rhythms: With drums, handclaps, or makeshift percussion instruments, play a series of rhythms and let students repeat those rhythms together.

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. Name some percussion instruments and ask students to identify them as one or the other.

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.

The fun music company create interesting and engaging Music Lesson plans for classroom music.

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