Which brings me to the next item; a music system which is easy-to-use and will take mp3 players or CDs without fuss. It has to be powerful enough for thirty elephants to stomp around and still hear the beat.
A large whiteboard will also be very useful. If there’s plenty of money around, then a reliable, well-maintained, well-supported (technically and structurally) interactive whiteboard and overhead projector would be lovely, but a whiteboard, and pens which actually write, will be fine. I’ll even bring my own pens, if you like!
This dedicated space would have storage for school instruments along one wall; open racks with trays in them might be best. What would be in the trays? For a class of thirty children, fifteen each of;
Shakers, pairs of claves, small tamborines, hand drums, woodblocks (the sort that can also be played as guiros or scrapers), triangles and bells-on-sticks. The nice little egg-shakers are lovely for this age group, but be aware that they (the eggs) will fit neatly and completely into their (the children’s) mouths unless you deal with that straightaway. So maybe I would choose shakers with handles and avoid this problem altogether.
(Also mini-whiteboards and pens, pencils, paper, sharpeners, erasers, and a waste bin in the corner. And a box of tissues.)
With this “basic” selection, all stored close beside me, I can choose an instrument and run the lesson, having the children share “one-between-two”, taking turns, or choose the sounds I want and be sure that there will be enough. Tidying away at the end becomes so easy – line up the children, pop the instruments into the trays as they head to the door.
The instruments above provide a lot of scope for pulse, rhythm, graphic scores, accompanying simple stories etc. To extend the variety of sounds that we can use, I would add a few “special” instruments; a large alto or bass xylophone, a couple of cymbals, some larger drums, and some unusual sound-makers, such as a rattlesnake, thunder roarer, rainstick, finger piano, and a selection of different types of beaters.
At some stage I would want to add pitched sounds, for playing simple drones and melodies. Half-a-dozen octave sets of chime bars, with plenty of extra beaters, and a couple of sets of boomwhackers would be just perfect.
Now then, why are you laughing? What’s my budget? Really? Is that all? Perhaps I’ll have to settle for some finger cymbals then. Or we can always sing and clap our hands!