Issue 55: Introducing Percussion to Early Years

First day back at school, and the first music lessons of the new school year.

Last term, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop run by Sarah Hennessy at the Primary School’s Music Conference organised by West Sussex Music Services. She is a Senior Lecturer in Music Education at Exeter University. The workshop was paced deceptively – the delivery appeared to be relaxed, but a huge amount of information and practical activity was packed into the time.

One of the things that struck me was her demonstration of the way she introduces the instruments to the children. We all sat round in a circle on the floor, (as though we were the children). She held up each instrument, and there was an opportunity to describe and talk about it, and then she played it, while we all copied her actions, miming the playing. This created a good opportunity to discuss eachinstrument is played (as in not banging them on the floor, for example!)

My year 1 and 2 class have all had at least one year of regular weekly music lessons, from me, or from the reception teacher, and so were already familiar with the instruments. Nevertheless, I used Sarah Hennessy’s example as a starter activity before handing anything out. I was a little worried that the children would be impatient of going through the very basics of holding and playing the instruments, but no, they were absorbed in the activity. I did warn them all that they wouldn’t necessarily get their first choice of instrument today, but that there was always next week, and the week after, and so on. Everything went swimmingly, no-one cried (hooray!) and w all shook, scraped, tapped and clicked by turns.

This has taught me not to be afraid of going back to the beginning before moving on – a useful lesson, as I am aware that I often move too quickly from one stage to the next.

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