Updated: May 8
Pre-pandemic, children would come into the studio and find a variety of instruments to play freely with before class started. During our sessions, they also played with a different instrument every week, get multiple colourful scarves to share with the class, and engage in partner games with each other. Now that we are not sharing the same space (or anything for that matter) using the studio’s instruments is not an option, but that doesn’t mean that we have to exclude the playfulness out of the music lesson.
There are three main reasons why we encourage children to play simple non-pitched percussion instruments in early childhood. The first one is that it is an engaging manner for children to work on their beat and rhythm skills. It is essentially similar to tapping the beat on different body parts, but the instrument itself is an added level of interest to young children. The second is that although not pitched, each instrument has a different timbre (unique sound that identifies it) and the ability to recognize those timbers, and the differences between them, is an important skill for musical development. The third is that by playing those instruments, children work on their fine motor skills (important for life and to play other instruments in the future).
With that in mind, we knew that keeping the instruments in the class was important so we found a simple, yet fun way of doing that: using homemade instruments or “instruments” from home. Every week, before class, parents get either instructions of what to bring to class or even videos of how to make the instruments we are going to use in class. We have been using dishcloths as scarves, pots and pans as drums, tea tins as shakers and even wooden spoons as rhythm sticks. Some weeks we even bring our favourite instrument from home (if we have one) and share its sound with the class. The all time favourite last year was our homemade rainstick!
Even though it is March again and everything is still looking pretty different, we are positive that some changes will stay with us when everything looks closer to our Winter 2020 lives. Yes, we believe children will still be excited to come into the studio and play our wonderful instruments, but we will also keep encouraging them to create their own and keep the music going at home.