Untuned percussion instruments have no notes of definite pitch.

They offer a great variety of tone colour (timbre) but tunes cannot be played on them.

Examples of untuned percussion instruments:

  • Maracas
  • Tambourine
  • Castanets
  • Sleigh bells
  • Wood block
  • Guiro
  • Finger cymbals
  • Bongos
  • Rhythm sticks (claves)
  • Triangles


Common Sense Rules for Using Instruments:

It’s great to have a variety of untuned percussion instruments for children to play and experiment with to find out how many sounds they can create!

Children should understand how to handle and care for the instruments to ensure longevity.

Playing Untuned Percussion Instruments Will Add Zest to Music Lessons and Music Activities:

  • Play the beat or rhythm to a piece of music or song.
  • Play while singing a Love to Sing song.
  • Loud and soft sounds and fast and slow sounds can be explored.
  • Describe content of a poem or song by playing an instrument e.g. Old MacDonald Had a Farm – play different instruments to represent the different animal sounds for each verse (click teachers tab).
  • Play an ostinato e.g. My Hatsummer, autumn, winter and spring – play throughout each verse (click teachers tab).
  • Play to stimulate movement (click teachers tab)
  • Play to create a focus for listening e.g. learn to recognize the sound of each instrument; choose an instrument to match the lyrics or mood of the song.
  • Play crescendo (increase in loudness) and decrescendo (gradually becoming softer).
  • Create an orchestra and play!