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  • Writer's pictureemilytully

Resources and Instruments - What to buy?

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

Although we can make music in natural ways by singing and clapping, and we can find sound makers all over our environment (especially the kitchen), my job would be more of a challenge without my instruments. After years of experimenting with different sounds and effects, there are some instruments I cannot imagine teaching without.

Pupils have a preference too which is why I provide a broad range of options to explore in sessions. However, as music specialists or parents, we don’t want to buy lots of instruments to find a pupil only like one of them. I find, the most important thing is collating a bank of resources that last and that we are not too precious about; thorough exploration can cause damage.

As with anything experimental, don’t shy away from sourcing second hand instruments. I’m always searching charity shops, Facebook Market Place, eBay and Freecycle for anything musical. Talk to friends with children too, they might have little unused musical gems lying in a box somewhere. Be careful if buying “musical toys” though, their sound can be one dimensional and they are easily broken. Musical toys are good as a starting point, but I recommend spending a bit more on instruments that give a good response once you know what your pupil or child likes. Quality is key in this case.

Below are some instruments that I never go to a session without. They get great responses and are really accessible for pupils with a range of abilities:

Gathering Drum- it’s big and bassy, a great drum for sharing activities and for good resonance and vibrations.

Sparkly tambourines- great for sensory feedback and developing tracking for those with visual impairments. A tambourine can be scraped, hit or shaken and its versatility is great for activities.

Sea-Drums/Ocean-Drums- everyone loves them, they can be loud or soothing, tipped, hit or shook and we can see how the sound is made.

Guitar- even if you can’t play it, so many of my pupils love the feedback it gives, and why not learn a few chords on the internet so you can accompany simple songs? I always find preloved guitars in charity shops.

Piano/Keyboard- great for any exploration, particularly if the pupil is drawn to exploring pitch.

Egg shakers- great for small hands or hands that find gripping difficult. Passing games and counting songs are all good uses for egg shakers.

Chimes- this instrument requires very little effort for a big sound and brilliant for all pupils.

Hand chimes/Bells/Individual chime bars- Lovely for sequencing colours and exploring melody as a group.

The more instruments you can find, the better. However, this is my core list that assist me with key activities during my everyday teaching. These days you can buy most instruments off the internet, but companies I have bought from over the years who are particularly good are:

I recommend REMO for their drums and tambourines, I have never had one split; they seem to last forever.

I hope this list helps with your future music making.

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