Making Percussion More Accessible – 6 Top Tips

Some Ways to Make Percussion More Accessible. 

a group of percussion instruments

There are many ways to bring something unique to a music jamming session.  We all have different strengths and abilities and with a bit of imagination we can adapt a conventional way of playing a piece of percussion to suit an individual and enable them to have fun contributing to a music session.  Here are 6 Top Tips on how to make percussion instruments more accessible. 

shaker on a cushion in the lap

Cushion in the Lap 

Place the instrument on a cushion and position it on the jammers lap to make it more accessible. If you have a bean shaker or a jiggly piece of percussion that you would normally shake quite energetically, a person can still bring something to the jam session by gently brushing over the beans in their lap.  Shakers are quite loud instruments and therefore make a contributary sound when played gently. Many percussion instruments can be played without having to hold them – try this and see what works for the individual.  

putting shaky eggs into your glove

Shaky Eggs 

Normally shaky eggs would require a person to grip and shake.  However if you place one or two shaky eggs into a glove or a sock, that someone is wearing, it takes the need to grip out of the equation.  The jammer can then use movement to make a great percussive sound, by shaking their arms or tapping their feet. 

holding a foot tambourine

Instrument Variations 

Look out for percussion that has already been adapted and adapt again!  The foot tambourine for example, has a strap (normally made of elastic).  This can be used on the hands as well.  This simple change in use of an instrument means that someone who finds it difficult to hold an instrument but is full of rhythm and is keen to join in the jam, can do so. 

a tripod percussion stand

Make a Percussion Stand 

This idea came from one of the jamming sessions we facilitated.  A woman who was in the later stages of dementia started to arrange the pieces of percussion on her table into a mini drum kit that suited the way she wanted to play.  So, after this amazing example of co-creation we adapted a camera tripod to attach other pieces of percussion to it.  Look around your environment and in charity shops (even talk to the handyman) and see how you could make a percussion stand. 

side drum

Drums 

Be aware of how your jammers would be able to comfortably play a drum, congas or djembes.  You can place a djembe onto a small stool with non-slip material beneath it.  A snare drum can be lowered on its stand or be placed separately onto a small table.  Using drum sticks, brushes and gong sticks can improve reach but equally people can just use their hands if they are more comfortable with the drums close to them. 

button shakers

Home Made 

A lot of fun can be had out of making your own percussion instruments.  You could design and make something with and for a particular jammer.  Emma made a cluster of buttons that attached to a small leather strap.  This makes a lovely light percussive sounding instrument that slides easily over the fingers.  The buttons are a source of conversation and delight even before the jamming session starts.  Charity shops are a good place to explore for things to turn into percussion instruments. 

A small amount of imagination can make such a positive difference to someone’s day.  Imagine if you saw a way to enable one of your clients to play an active part in a jam session by adapting or making a piece of percussion. 

Do let us know how you all get on.  Happy Jamming! 

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