This post, Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments, is written in collaboration with Shannon Wijnker from Mamamusing. Shannon is a music teacher and mother of four.
Children and music are a perfect combination. Starting at a very young age, children love to move to music. It is important to encourage their natural love of music. Children start banging out rhythms on things almost as soon as they can hold something in their hands. They will bang their spoons on the high chair or drum the coffee table with their hands. Most children love the opportunity to beat your pots, pans and plastic tubs with wooden spoons, if you give them the chance. Since children love banging on things so much I thought the first instrument to cover in the Fun with Music posts should be percussion instruments.
To start this learning activity I would suggest reading Percussion (Instruments and Music) by Daniel Nunn if you child is younger or Percussion (Musical Instruments of the World) by Barrie Carson Turner for an older child. There is more information about both books below in the Storytime section.
Shannon from Mamamusing wants to remind us:
When teaching young children about music, and while they are playing along with music, the subject about beat and rhythm will pop up. It is important to help your child understand the difference between rhythm and beat. Beat is like a heartbeat, it is steady and stays the same. Rhythm changes and provides variety. Usually the rhythms will follow the words (or lyrics).
When trying to teach your child about how to keep a beat, make sure to choose music that is fast. It is impossible for children to keep the beat to slow music. Most adults think slower is easier, but it is not. Children can learn to keep a beat quite easily when it is fast. Think dance music
To learn rhythm, create accompaniments to a poem. For example, ask them what instrument they would choose for “Twinkle twinkle little star” and get them to explain the reasoning behind their decision. Even if you don’t agree – let them choose! Then try keeping the beat as you sing the song. Then try the rhythm of the words.
Maybe your child has some percussion instruments in their toy box. Do they have a toy drum or toy xylophone? If they don’t (or even if they do) experiment with some household items. A percussion instrument is an instrument that makes sound by striking, scraping or shaking. Set out some pots, pans and plasticware, give your child a wooden spoon, spatula and anything else they can safely beat objects with and let them go at it. Talk about the different sound the different objects make. Which ones make loud sounds and which ones make quieter sounds. Experiment with the objects you are striking the pans with. Does it sound different if you hit the object with the handle of the spatula than if you hit it with the flat part of the spatula?
What kinds of things can you find around the house that make noise when your child shakes them? What about a box of rice? Make sure it’s closed tightly. Small plastic jars of spices would make different sounds when you shake them.
What kinds of things do you have around the house that make noises when you scrape them. Do you have bottles that have ridges around them? We have water bottles like that. Have your child use the wooden spoon handle or spatula handle to rub along the ridges.
Put on some music and encourage your child to play along on their household percussion instruments. Be sure to join your child in the fun.
Empty oatmeal box, margarine tub or similar container
Construction or craft paper
Glue and/or tape
1. Cut your paper to the size you need it to fit around your container. It may take more than one piece.
2. Glue or tape the paper to the container.
3. Let your child decorate their drum with markers and/or stickers.
Now watch your child enjoy playing some fun rhythms for you.
Empty water bottles or soda bottles
Uncooked rice or dry beans
Colorful duct tape
Stickers – foam stickers work best
Funnel (its easier to put beans in by hand, as they get stuck in the funnel)
Super glue (for adult use only)
1. Have your child put some rice or beans in the bottom of the bottle.
2. Help them wrap some decorative tape around their bottle.
3. Let them put some stickers on the bottle for added fun.
4. This step is for adults only: Run a bead of super glue around the inside of the bottle cap and place on the bottle. This will keep your child from opening the bottle and someone possibly choking on the beans or rice.
I found another fun percussion instrument craft on The First Grade Parade blog. You will find the directions to make cute maracas out of plastic Easter eggs, rice, spoons and some decorative tape. Below is a picture of one I made.
Here are some fun places, in Indianapolis, to take your children and have some fun, hands-on experience with percussion instruments.
Bongo Boy Music, Recreational Music Center – Bongo Boy Music offers several drum circles that your child can participate in. They offer times for just the kids, times for the whole family and even a night for special needs children. Some of the events are free and some have a small fee. I include some of their events on my monthly Family Friendly Events schedule.
Rhythm! Discovery Center – The Rhythm! Discovery Center is an interactive, hands-on percussion museum. Children, as well as adults, will love the opportunity to experiment with different percussion instruments from around the world.
If you have similar attractions, in you area, please share them with me and I will add them to this post.
The Drum and Other Percussion Instruments (Let’s Make Music) by Rita Storey
Reading Level: Ages 6 yrs old and up
Your child will enjoy learning about drums and other percussion instruments with this fun book. They will learn how different shaped drums make different sounds. The book gives your child a couple of “experiments” to try to help them learn more about drums. One helps them see how the sounds are made and another shows them how to play different rhythms with different hands (tricky!). Your child will also get the chance to learn about several other percussion instruments. The illustrations are pictures of people playing drums and other percussion instruments.
Drum City by Thea Guidone
Reading Level: Ages 3 – 7
A fun book about kids and their thrill of drumming. They drum on anything they can get their hands on; buckets, bowls, barrels and pans.They dance and march, all while their drumming. They march into the “humdrum of the city”. Soon the children’s infection beat is caught by the adults on the street. “People in traffic” and “Mamas in rollers” and join in keeping the beat. The book is so well written that you get caught up in the fun and want to join the drum parade.
Freddie the Frog and the Mysterious Wahooooo
by Sharon Burch
Reading Level: Ages 4 – 9 yrs old
Join Freddie the Frog and his best friend, Eli the Elephant, as they discover tempos, rhythms, and beats on Tempo Island. Your child will enjoy learning to play their percussion instruments to the rhythm and beat along with Eli and Freddie. There is also a CD with the dramatized story, sing-along songs and jam tracks to play your own created rhythm.
Percussion (Instruments and Music) by Daniel Nunn
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
Do your children like to bang on pots, pans or tabletops? Do they like to shake the box of rice to hear the noise it makes? Then they will enjoy this book about percussion instruments. Your child will learn that there are many different kinds of percussion instruments; some you bang, some you shake and some you play tunes on. There is even a cute picture at the end of the book that shows you how to make your own toy drum at home.
Percussion (Musical Instruments of the World) by Barrie Carson Turner
Reading Level: Ages 6 and up
This book has a lot of information in it but it is laid out nicely. The book introduces you to 19 percussion instruments from around the world. You will find some instruments that are familiar to you because you see them where you live and there are others you may have never seen before. Each instrument has it’s own page so if you just want to cover the familiar ones or if you want to break the book up into different sessions it is laid out well for that. Although this book is for a little bit older child you could use it with a younger child by becoming familiar with the text and then simply point out and discuss the different instruments rather than reading it word for word.
Music at an Early Age by Shannon at Mamamusing
Fun with Music – Overview
Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
Fun with Music: Woodwind Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: String Instruments
Fun with Music: Keyboards