4 Ways To Incorporate a Wide Variety of Instruments into General Music

general music instruments music class activities Aug 31, 2021
4 Ways to Use a Wide Variety of Instruments in General Music

      If your students are anything like mine, they can’t get enough of instruments! When I first started at my school, the students had not done much singing, but I was able to reach them through the allure of instruments. If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation or are simply looking for ways to spice up your lessons, this is the post for you! 

Enhance a storybook experience

      As elementary music teachers, we often incorporate storybooks into our lessons. It’s a great way to reach students and introduce concepts, among many other reasons. Some stories lend themselves well to adding in some instruments while others might require a bit of planning. I enjoy having students assign non-pitched percussion instruments to emphasize repeated sections of stories. To keep it non-chaotic, I give them a few to choose from and allow them to decide which instrument goes with which section. Examples of instruments I use for this type of activity are sleigh bells, claves, triangle, finger cymbals, and hand drums.


Drum Circle

      If you don’t own any tubanos or other large drums, I highly suggest investing in some. When I bring out our large drums, my students are always excited. Even the kids who typically shy away from musical activities get excited for drum circle day! Drum circles are a great way to practice rhythms, improvisation, and call and response. There are a ton of different concepts you can teach with a drum circle, and your kids will love you for it! 



      Any Orff-inspired teacher will be familiar with barred instruments, but you don’t have to be Orff-certified to incorporate these amazing instruments into your lessons! Barred instruments are great for song extensions, like adding an ostinato pattern or a B section to a song. I also enjoy using xylophones and glockenspiels to practice steady beat and introduce improvisation/composition. There’s something about using mallets that excites young students, so be sure to capture that excitement and use it to create beautiful music! 


Rhythm Sticks

      During the time of Covid, I had my students do a lot of rhythm stick play-alongs on YouTube, and I realized how special rhythm sticks can be. They can really enhance a song when students emphasize the rhythm of various songs. There are also some amazing resources out there for incorporating rhythm sticks into all types of songs, including popular songs that your kids already know! (Also, yes, we here at That Music Teacher believe that popular music does have a place in the elementary music classroom!) 

      When you’re lesson planning, keep in mind that you can also combine different instruments in the same lesson! Students love the variety, and different instruments may reach different students. We hope you found this post informative and helpful. If you decide to incorporate more instruments into your lessons, we’d love to hear about it!

This article was submitted by Rachel Ammons, contributing author for ThatMusicTeacher.com. Interested in becoming a contributing author? Email resume and writing sample to [email protected].