Submitted by Susie Lott, Cincinnati, Ohio

Idea posted September 12, 2008

This is a great way for all the students to get to play all the instruments in one class period.

Place your chairs in a circle like musical chairs. Place rhythm instruments in the chairs, alternating types in a sequence if you have enough. Use triangles and rhythm sticks if you need to fill in. If you have tall drums, you can place them at regular intervals between the chairs. When students enter, instruct them to sit in alphabetical order on the floor with their backs to the chairs. (You decide where to start them since it is a circle.) When everyone is seated, have them stand and face the center. Have them take a step to the left (this moves the students clockwise) to the next instrument. Have them rotate again. Repeat until they understand which direction is clockwise. Then, have your activity with each person using the instrument in front of them. The next turn, students will use the new instrument to the left.

I use a CD of Cuban music and the kids love playing along. You can stop the CD and the children should immediately stop playing, put the instrument back in the chair, and on your instruction move to the left again. Then, start the music up again. The center of the circle can be used for time out for students who are pulled out for inappropriate behavior. If the instruments are so loud that I cannot hear the recording, I leave some chairs empty and students in front of those chairs can move/dance to the music for that turn. Or, I can specify only certain instruments play for that turn.

The center of the circle can also be used for the student "conductor" who gets to lead the students in echo rhythms. You could put "choice" instruments in the center and invite well-focused children into the inner circle.