Musical Instruments and Noise-Makers

Many instruments can be used with a group of children but some are expensive, some take up a lot of space, some are difficult to play. Ideally the adult should be free to sing and move about with the children so any large instrument such as a piano, or wind instruments such as a recorder, flageolet or melodica have immediate drawbacks. A side drum, tambour or tambourine is useful but produces only rhythm. Guitars, accordions and concertinas can be used successfully and a large-size glockenspiel or xylophone are other possibilities. For the unmusical adult undoubtedly the easiest and most useful instrument is a set of chime bars. These can provide rhythm, pitch, melody and enough sound for most purposes. They can be bought singly and a set gradually made up, they are relatively cheap and are robust enough for the children to use themselves. Other percussion instruments may be bought but a full percussion ‘band session’ is beyond this age group and, equally important at this stage which is often ‘Let’s make noise’ rather than ‘Let’s make music’, can be far too loud for anyone to hear what is going on and actually distresses some of them.

Very often the instruments which suit young children best can be made more cheaply and in most cases of equal if not better quality than they can bought. Some such as cymbals cannot be made at home but most adults would prefer not to have these in the nursery group.

The following suggestions should perhaps be viewed as interesting noise-makers rather than musical instruments but they have all proved useful and successful for nursery work.