Issue 97: The Junk Samba Kit

Last summer I amused myself by creating a junk samba kit. I had bought a 15-player kit, but they are pretty expensive, so if I was going to teach a whole class samba I needed more instruments but at less cost.


I had a great time choosing different sized patio planters, making my own samba mallets, and sourcing “junk” equivalents for tamborims, and agogo bells.

I ended up with five “surdos” made from patio planters supported on tennis-ball feet, and 8 “tamborims” made from very cheap, shallow cake tins (89p each) and very cheap plastic beaters. The 4 “agogo bells” were slightly more expensive; enamel mugs and spoons raided from the kitchen drawer, and also 6 small baking dishes which should have been used for making individual quiches.

As mentioned last week, I already had around 30 shakers (ganzas) from small plastic drinks bottles with a spoonful of rice inside.

There are also about 15 pairs of claves (dowels, sawn to length and the edges rounded off).

junk samba kit

That takes me to around 62 instruments, give or take a few. Add to that number 8 “real” tambourines, 2 octaves of boomwhackers and 5 little wooden xylophones, and we are now at over 90 instruments. Product Details






I have nowhere to keep them in the house, so they rattle about on the back seat of my car. I’m used to the racket now.

So, when the Nordoff-Robbins team asked how many of us had brought our instruments for the improvisation session that followed their presentation, and only half-a-dozen hands, from the 80+ group went up, catastrophe was averted!

My “real” samba kit was safely stowed away at home, but it only took minutes to shift all  the “junk” from my car to the conference room.

I would guess that my 90-player junk kit, gathered together over several years, cost me well under £80. The most expensive items were probably the xylophones (£5 each) and the boomwhackers (about £15 per set). I use instruments from this eclectic collection constantly, especially when visiting schools where the instrument cupboard is… well, the less said the better about the instrument cupboard.

With this lot in the back of the car, I reckon I am ready for anything! As I proved to my satisfaction last week!




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