Aspect 2: Instrumental sounds

Find here some ways you can support children’s play to help them develop their ability to discriminate between instrumental sounds. These suggestions are followed by activities and ideas that you can use to develop your practice and further children’s development.

Supporting children’s play

  • Use home-made shakers to explore how sounds can be changed.
  • Note which children can make up simple rhythms.
  • Observe how well children listen to each other when they play as a band.
  • Let children play with musical instruments outdoors; this encourages them to experiment with the sounds they can hear.

Developing your practice

  • If a child is reluctant to copy actions with an instrument, spend a little time building confidence and encouraging their interest in copying games. You can do this by presenting the child with a set of instruments. Have an identical set to hand. Allow the child to explore and copy back what the child does. Copying children’s actions can build confidence and make them feel that their contribution is valued. If this creates an enjoyable copying game, you can carefully switch roles by taking up a different instrument, then making a new sound for the child to copy.
  • It will take a little while for some children to make a link between an animal and a corresponding instrument sound. Where necessary, allow plenty of time for the children to play with the animal puppets or toys and talk about the sounds that the animals make.
  • Provide a variety of animal puppets or toys and a range of instruments. Sit alongside the children to play the instruments and encourage discussion about choices of instruments appropriate for the sounds the animals make.
  • Encourage discussion with the children about why they have chosen the instrument to represent their particular animal.
  • Explore with the children their experience of music at home. Ask parents or carers whether they have any instruments they can bring in; either to play for the children or for the children to look at.