Last week I was chillin on Facebook, scrolling through a swap shop when I saw someone had posted a set of Kindermusik instruments for sale. Her set included a hand drum, a triangle, a set of rhythm sticks, D and A resonator bars (chimes) with rubber mallets, a maraca and two hand held sets of sleigh bells for $18. How could I say no? I jumped all over this one.
This week I had my handy bag of percussion instruments and some hyper summer students, so I pulled out the bag and gave it a go. Here are some of the activities, organized by difficulty from easy to increasingly difficult:
Triangle Exploration – We started with the triangle for most of my younger students. I’d show them how much louder it was if you held it by the string and hit it, rather than holding the metal. Then they got to try. I asked them if they could feel the vibration in their hand, then we worked on playing super soft and super loud. How fast could they tap that triangle?
Here’s where I made them think: We struck the triangle first with the metal piece that you’re supposed to use. Then I gave them a wooden rhythm stick to use. Is it louder? Softer? Higher or lower? What about the vibration in your hand? Next we used the rubber mallet. The cool thing here is you feel more vibration but it’s a much quieter sound.
Chimes – For my younger students, getting the chime to ring without it falling apart was hard enough. You can experiment with different sounds by striking the chimes with the rubber mallets, the wooden rhythm sticks, or the metal stick from the triangle. Have them tell you if it’s louder or softer, and which sound they like the most.
Pitch Matching – The chimes are a specific pitch on the piano. Help the student figure out which key on the piano matches the chime they’re striking.
Sympathetic Vibrations – Have the student put down the damper pedal and strike the chime near the piano. They should be able to hear the sympathetic vibrations of the same pitched strings in the piano. I had a teacher once who called these sounds “ghosts,” but I prefer the scientific explanation.
Hand Drum – Explore the hand drum and the different sounds it can make. Put it on different surfaces and tap it, then hold it in the air. Have the student tell you if it’s louder, softer, higher, or lower sounding. Tap some simple rhythms and have the student tap them back.
Play Alongs – Choose any instrument they just played with and have them tap a beat on it while they sing a children’s song.
Drum roll, please! – Someone, somewhere taught me to hold a drumstick and let it do a drumroll. I can’t say I’m particularly good at it, but I can let the stick bounce. This worked well with the mallets and the hand drum. I showed the student how to let the stick bounce on the hand drum so that it sounded like a drum roll.
Rhythm Tap Backs – Tap out a rhythm and have them tap it back. Next, have them tap a rhythm and you tap it back. If you have rhythm flashcards, put up a few rhythms, tap one, and see if they can pick out the one you played. I did this with an eight year old the other day and he turned to me and said “this is really fun!” I wasn’t expecting that at all, so I’m glad he enjoyed it.
Tap and Write – I had the student tap out a rhythm on any of the instruments, then I’d write it on the whiteboard. Then, it was my turn to tap a rhythm and they would write it down. You can make this one as easy or difficult as you want.
Now it’s your turn. Try some of these out! I can’t believe how good my students are getting at reading and playing rhythms, and reinforcing all that with these instruments helps a lot.
Have any more ideas? I’d love to hear them. Share them in the comments below, email them to me, or share them on my Facebook page.
If you like this post, subscribe to my email list so I can let you know when I put up a new post.