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Body Percussion Activities

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Body percussion activities: Fun pieces for your elementary music lessons!

Looking for body percussion activities for your socially distanced classroom? Since some school districts aren’t allowing singing, and may not allow instrument playing, body percussion can be a wonderful way to still actively make music.

What is body percussion?

First, what exactly is body percussion? Body percussion is where one uses their body to make music, whether it be through clapping, stomping, patsching, snapping, etc. Molodi is an “extreme body percussion” group; here is a video of them performing, which you could use to showcase body percussion to your students:

Body percussion is considered an integral part of the Orff-Schulwerk philosophy. I am not Orff-trained, but did my student teaching with and Orff-trained teacher, and took an Orff methods class in undergrad, which is where I was first exposed to body percussion. There are tons of awesome body percussion videos on YouTube (many that are from Orff training programs), but here are a three that I think are very accessible, and I would love to teach my students:

Sevens

This is such a fun piece! You could use this video to teach the body percussion, as they show how to perform at a typical tempo, then they break it down into small chunks. Students could try in a round, once they are solid with the body percussion.

In the Hall of the Mountain King

I love this piece, and the body percussion! You’d want students to sit further apart, of course, if social distancing, but it could work with students in chairs, or with students at desks. For the part where students are tapping each other’s legs, they could tap their chair or desk instead. It would likely take several lessons to get to the tempo of the finale; I’d start first with the slower sequence, and work up to the end.

Can you tell me how to get to Starbucks?

This is a really fun body percussion piece…especially if your students love Starbucks! It has syncopa, or eighth/ quarter/ eighth in it, so it could be used as rhythmic practice and ensemble work! To teach students, you could show this video, have them discuss what they notice (or use the see/ think/ wonder routine found here), then have them learn. Once they are solid with the routine, you could have them try in a round!

Body Percussion Resources

Looking for good resources for body percussion? Check out these:

I have some body percussion videos embedded into this set, which could work well for 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade, depending on your students’ prior knowledge:

I hope this helps, as you consider how to lesson plan with body percussion. Happy planning, and happy teaching!

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Hi, I'm Aileen

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