Aim: How can we make music with percussion instruments?
Summary: Students explore steady beat and instruments of the percussion family.
Standards: US 1, 2; NYC 2, 3
Modality: perform, respond, create
Materials: small hand percussion instruments, audio recordings, crayons, student worksheet (Percussion Instruments)
Time Required: 20–30 minutes
This activity is part of: Music Educators Toolbox

Instructions

  1. Percussion instruments are sometimes called the heartbeat of a musical group. The percussion players create a rhythm so all the musicians can follow the beat together. Can you find the heartbeat in your body? Is it slow, medium, or fast?
  2. Practice creating a steady beat with body percussion. Clap your hands, tap your thighs, or stomp your feet. Have students demonstrate the steady beat by tapping or clapping the beat to a known song.
  3. Meet the family of percussion instruments. Demonstrate one instrument from each category.
    How are these instruments the same? How are they different?
    Download Student Worksheet: Percussion Instruments
  4. Students create a movement to go along with each instrument. (Examples: shake body when the egg shaker is played; clap hands when you hear a drum strike; make a scraping motion with arms when the guiro is played)
  5. Students take turns playing and listening to each type of percussion instrument.
  6. Play audio excerpts. Students indicate what they hear by showing the movements they created for each type of percussion instrument.
    • Download Audio: Shakers
    • Download Audio: Drum
    • Download Audio: Tambourine
    • Download Audio: Guiro
    • Download Audio: Rhythm Sticks
    • Download Audio: Washboard
    Audio download help

Going Deeper: Percussion Scavenger Hunt

  • Have students find objects around the classroom that can be played as a percussion instrument by scraping, striking, or shaking. Have students draw a picture of their found instrument on the Percussion Instruments student worksheet.

Assessment


Creative Commons License
Music Educators Toolbox by Carnegie Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Maracas recorded by wikipedia-ce. Available from Wikimedia Commons. This work is licensed as Public Domain.

Drum Cadence B performed by the United States Navy Band. Available from Wikimedia Commons. This work is licensed as Public Domain.

Tambourine recorded by Freddythehat. Available from Wikimedia Commons. This work is licensed as Public Domain.

Cuban rhythm demonstration on guiro. Performed by Rolando de los Reyes 2013 by Carnegie Hall Corporation. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Rhythm demonstration on clave. Performed by Rolando de los Reyes 2013 by Carnegie Hall Corporation. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

“Playing the washboard” performed by Jihei. Available from Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.