Percussion and Keyboards (with a teacher)
This activity is for classroom use. Your teacher will have further material to use alongside the clips and information below.
SECTION 1: How do you play percussion instruments?
The percussion family is the biggest in the orchestra. There are so many instruments to choose from! Different pieces use different ones, so – unlike the other orchestral families – you don’t see or hear them all together at once.
Your teacher will give you a sheet that shows some percussion instruments. Nearly all of them are struck to make a sound – you strike or hit or slap them with a beater or stick or your hand – but there are two that can be shaken: can you work out which ones these are?
Look at each instrument and think about how a sound could be made with it.
SECTION 2: Meet the family
Audio 1 and Audio 2 each feature different percussion instruments. How would you describe the difference in sound between the two tracks?
Are you able to organise the percussion instruments from Section 1 into two categories – tuned and untuned?
The percussion family goes at the back of the orchestra, and often one player will swap between different instruments.
Listen to the music below and see if you can select the specific percussion instrument that is playing in each piece.
SECTION 3: Quiz time
With your new knowledge of percussion instruments, are you able to complete a percussion quiz? Your teacher will give you a printout.
SECTION 4: Percussion on its own
Some composers have written entire pieces for just the percussion family! Listen to the piece of music below and see how even without a melody, a composer can still create a certain atmosphere or mood. How does the music make you feel? Does it make you think of anything?
Now watch a clip of this piece being performed live in concert!
Dynamics: The volume (degrees of loud and quiet) in a piece of music
Pitch: Whether a note is high or low
Tempo: The speed of a piece of music
All media credits – titles, composers, artists, sources etc. – may be found in the Teacher Sheet, accessed from the Info box at the top of this page.