When you have an activity using non-pitched percussion or rhythm instruments, it can get noisy and out of control if your children don’t know or don’t follow your procedures. When giving out instruments, I explain to the class that I’m going to put the instrument on the floor in front of them and they are to wait until everyone has an instrument and I tell them it’s OK to pick up and play. The analogy I use is if you go to a fancy restaurant, you don’t start gobbling your food the second it’s placed in front of you. It’s polite to wait until everyone has their meal, and then you all start eating at the same time.
That’s the procedure, but the kids are still eager to play and I hate to make them sit and wait and I want them to have the experience of playing. As soon as the last instrument is given out I use this poem:
The kids are very quickly engaged in the activity, they are exploring ways to play the instrument, and there is no chaos!
When that activity is finished, and they have to wait until the next activity is prepared, the rule is: If you play before I say I’ll take your instrument away.
I will take away an instrument, but usually give it back for a second try. Certainly, the behaviour is better from all the students if I do take away one instrument. Remember Barbara Coloroso’s saying: Say what you mean (If you play before I say I’ll take your instrument away.), Mean what you say and do what you say!
There are many ideas for using rhythm instruments in the new collection, Rhythm Instrument Fun. Get more information on the collection at www.musicplcay.ca.