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Exploring Steady Beat with Percussion Instruments

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 1, 2, 3
Grade: Kindergarten
Concept: Rhythm & Meter
Artistic Process: performing, responding, creating
Materials: small hand percussion instruments, audio recordings, crayons, student worksheet (Percussion Instruments)
Time Required: 20–30 minutes


  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 (PDF)
  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.
    Play audio excerpts. Students indicate what they hear by showing the movements they created for each type of percussion instrument.
  6. 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.


Kindergarten Activity Exemplar: Meter

This video is an exemplar of an activity from Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Toolbox entitled "Exploring Steady Beat with Percussion Instruments." Students explore steady beat and instruments of the percussion family.


Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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