Music class lesson plans for learning about untuned percussion

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

Make a drum! Do this as a demonstration with student participation, or, if you have the resources, let each student make a drum. 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 a circle that is 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) greater in diameter than the can. The circle can then be cut out, stretched tightly over the can and secured 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. See if anyone can understand the content of the message.

You can use echo or call and response rhythms very effectively in your Music Lesson plans. 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.

Show students and discuss the differences between tuned and untuned percussion instruments. You could have a quiz where you name an instrument and ask the class to identify them as untuned or tuned.

Explain the difference between a membranophone and an idiophone. 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. Ask them to cut out the pictures and affix them to index cards; write the instrument names on the backs of the cards.

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