My top five percussion instruments for jam sessions
In our jamming sessions in care homes the percussion instruments play a big part in enabling everyone to take an active role in making a piece of music together. They are accessible and inclusive because they are generally small and light and there is no pressure to choose musical notes. Here are my top five percussion instruments that everyone seems to enjoy in our sessions.
The agogo has two ways of making a great sound. You can tap it with your agogo stick or, because it has small ridges, make a hollow scraping sound that is pleasing to the ears. We use a traditional agogo and an ethnic frog which sounds humorously froglike.
The shaky eggs are fun to play with and they make a lovely gentle sound that still cuts through the sound of the other instruments. They sound like they have a small amount of sand in their shells. The shaky egg is versatile as you can put them up your sleeve or in your sock if you find them hard to hold. And they look lovely and familiar.
The chimes are tuned so high that you can join in our jams without fearing hitting a wrong note. They resonate and add a serene ringing tone to the band.
The snare drum, using brushes not sticks, is very popular with our fellow jammers. People have played for up to an hour non stop having never played this instrument before. It brings another texture of sound to the band. Sometimes people play a rhythm resembling a Scottish country folk band and other jammers swirl the brushes to resemble the sound of the sea.
The Maracas are often the first percussion instrument people choose. As soon as they start playing we are transported to somewhere hot and exotic. I think that is the appeal of these lovely simple shakers. We use many more instruments both percussion and musical in the jam sessions but I feel the five percussion instruments that I have talked about are at the centre of our inclusive and accessible jam band sound.