World Music Qtorial: Idiophone Olympics!

by Abby @ Quaver on May 15, 2012

in In the Quaver Classroom!,Qtorials,

Welcome back to Quaver’s World Music Month – where we are digging into a different category of World Percussion Instruments every week of May!

Each week, Quaver will be giving you a quick Qtorial project to try in the classroom. This week is all about IDIOPHONES! Check it out . . .


Quaver Says:

Get excited, folks, because it’s Week 2 of World Music Month and we’re on to Idiophones! Now, if you’ve looked at the World Music resources at, you’ve probably already learned that:

Idiophones are instruments that make sound without using strings, membranes or wind.

The sound comes from their own bodies. This pretty much means that ANYTHING can be an Idiophone!! For example:

  • Knock 2 lampposts together and call it an idiophone.
  • Amplify a couple of toothpicks – it’s an idiophone!
  • Tap 2 pencils together: idophone, again!
  • Gently bump the next teacher’s car in the parking lot and tell him/her, “I was simply making an idiophone!”

Instruments you may have in your class such as claves and güiros are idiophones.

Discuss the idea of idiophones with your class, mentioning that even though idiophones can be made of anything, some items make better sounds than others. Think about it, if you bashed 2 sponges together – you would technically be making an idiophone, but it would probably be too quiet for normal ears! (And your Dad couldn’t have a bath for a day.) Then try this cool project with your class!

Idiophone Olympics

  • Ask students to go home and experiment sounds to find the coolest idiophone they can and bring in to class. It can be an item that is scraped on the surface, or two items that are the same banged together.
  • Have students come up with a cool name for their instrument and decide briefly on a TECHNIQUE of playing their instrument in case they had to teach it to another person.
  • Have the students one by one come up to the front of the class and demonstrate their idiophones by playing along to the short song below (to the tune of ‘there was a farmer had a dog and BINGO was his name-o’)

This is a groovy instrument and _____________ is it’s name-o

(X – x – xxx / x – x – xxx  / x – x – xxx)  and __________________ is it’s name-o

  • You can extend the activity by having them sing the song with you, clapping a rhythm which they echo, instead of them playing the same rhythm every time.
  • Have the students vote on the most unusual sounding idiophone, the most creative idiophone, and the best-named idiophone. Give out a homemade bronze, silver, and gold medal for the three winners.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have crowned your Idiophone Olympic Champions!

To enter to win our month-long contest for the Quaver DVD of your choice – try this with your class and tell us how it goes in the comments!

If you aren’t able to access the Online Quaver Classrooms via the Bus Stop at

  • Quaver’s World Music is FREE with any Online Quaver Classroom Access!
  • You can sign up for a free preview at The Access Code you receive will give you a Sneak Peek of Quaver’s World Music as well! Details in this post.
  • Or you can purchase any Online Quaver Classroom for just $8 a year and get Quaver’s World Music included!

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