Using the Music (or Percussion) Trolley in Schools
Teaching at a number of schools in different areas of the North of England has given me an insight into the use of the trolley of instruments. This resource is often to be found gathering dust at the back of a storeroom with a collection of instruments in various states from pristine to beyond repair.
Perhaps I visit schools in areas where there have been some difficult dealings with the music trolley. Looking at the instruments on the trolleys and the collections of beaters, mallets and sticks that are supplied to strike the instruments I am not surprised there is damage and perhaps some caution in the use of the trolley in class creativity.
I understand this and setting some ground rules at the start of the session could help. Find the loudest or most piercing sounding instrument and make a signal for everyone to stop playing. Make sure everyone understands what to do when they hear your signal.
The following picture shows some of the variety of materials and shapes of striking surface for playing percussion instruments. In general:
Wood, metal and plastic headed sticks are loud
Wool, rubber and felt can often bring out tone in the instrument at a medium and quiet dynamic
Brushes and rutes are soft
If you are working on specific rhythms with beginner students sometimes a mnemonic, word or phrase, is useful to help pupils remember. I ask the students what their favourite book, film or interest is and then ask them to work out the word or phrase that will help remember the rhythm.
As an example the following rhythm that has been named: unicorn, lemonade, cherryade, butterfly, J2O, BB-8, theropod, elephant and Viktor Krum by my students. These are the ones I can remember.
To help with using the percussion instruments on the trolley in some traditional ways I have published a book of duets that pair up many of the most commonly found instruments. It is available as an instant download in PDF format from https://payhip.com/b/gQzR
I am interested to hear from users of the book if other resources are needed. A collection of mnemonics, tips on what each instrument can do and how to play them (short films) or any other ideas that might be useful. Please tell me if you think of any from your experience(s) with the trolley.
© P.R. Birkby 2018