Percussion Performance and Culture

Grade Levels: 5 - 8

Students in grades 5-8 study African and Native American percussion, consider music's cultural relevance, and perform in the style of the genre.

Standard 2c

Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music: Students perform music representing diverse genres and cultures, with expression appropriate for the work being performed.


The general music class is divided in half, and each half is directed to prepare an instructional unit on and performance of a percussion ensemble. One half works on an African percussion ensemble, the other on a Native American percussion ensemble. Each group is given a variety of source materials relevant to their assignment, including instruments (where possible) and recordings. They use them as the basis of a presentation, explaining to the other half of the class the historical and cultural origins of the instruments used, the kinds of music performed, and the settings and functions of the music. In addition, they prepare a performance in the style of the genre they have been studying.

After sufficient time has been spent on the project, involving every student in assigned responsibilities and contributions, each group presents a brief description and demonstration-performance of its results. The "receiving" group, in turn, prepares a critique of the presentation, giving its assessment of how clearly the description was presented, how well the performance demonstrated authentic practices, how informative it was, and other responses based on criteria the class has jointly established.

The instructional activity is successful when:

The students explain, and demonstrate in performance, characteristic qualities of the assigned musical cultures.

Excerpted from Teaching Examples: Ideas for Music Educators.

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Provided in partnership with NAfME

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