Learning About Musical Analog and Digital Instruments From Around the World

Analog Instruments | Part A

This is a series of lessons on the origins of instruments and drum machines. These lessons lead students on an exploration of analog drums, percussion instruments and digital instruments from around the world. Part 1 covers analog percussion instruments from around the world and Part 2 focuses on digital instruments. We will lead students on an exploration of these instruments to enable them to compare and contrast their sounds and understand the differences. Lesson 2 focuses on learning about drum machines and synthesizers Lesson 2 focuses on Digital Instruments.

Age: 3-10 years.
(analog instrument lesson)

Location: Indoor activity.

Lesson duration: ~45 minutes per lesson

Number of children: Group 2-25 children
Students should be organized based on the number of instruments available. Larger classes should be organized into groups of 2-4 students.

Rationale: Children love music, and they respond best to musical experiences when they actively participate in them. For this reason, it’s important to expose kids to a range of musical instruments including modern electronic instruments so they can experiment and make their own music. Children might not be aware of the cultural context that musical instruments have, but this is an excellent opportunity to educate kids about the musical sounds of various countries.


  • Encourage children to appreciate diverse musical sounds
  • Learn about music traditions from other cultures, gaining an understanding and appreciation for diversity
  • Teach children about belonging to a wider world
  • Gain musical aptitude, awareness and confidence
  • The students will explore the differences between analog and digital

Lesson Introduction:

Gather a group of children and invite them to sit in a circle. Explain that this lesson is about introducing them to a variety of musical instruments in order for them to get acquainted with how the instruments work, how they can be played and the different sounds they produce. Explain that musical instruments also have cultural meaning as in different countries there are types of music that are traditionally played using certain instruments, which is a special feature of that country’s culture.

Analog Instruments

Main Component of Lesson Part 1:
With the children sitting in small circles, or in small groups around the classroom pick an instrument out of the list. Demonstrate how the instrument can be played, the sounds it makes and discuss which country the instrument originates from. Then hand it to the child nearest to you and ask them to explore the instrument for themselves, passing it along after they are done (help with turn-taking may be needed for very young children). Next select another instrument and repeat the above process until all the instruments have been introduced, discussed and explored.

  • Xylophone: Consists of a series of bars of varying lengths. These bars are played by striking them with a mallet to make a sound, which can be metallic or wooden depending on the instrument’s material. The xylophone originates from eastern Asia and Africa (Sachs 2012, p. 238).
  • Tambourine: The tambourine’s body is to be tapped in order to produce a jingling sound. Tambourines originated in Rome, Greece, The Middle East, and India (Sachs 2012, p. 33).
  • Drum: The flat surface of the drum is hit to produce a banging sound. The drum originated in Africa (Sachs 2012, p. 196).
  • Maraca: Hold the maraca and flick your wrist in a short, quick downward motion to produce a swishing sound. Maracas are a native instrument of Latin America (Anderson & Campbell 2009, p.81).
  • Rhythm sticks: Hold two sticks together and hit them with one another to produce a clicking sound. Rhythm sticks have been found in various indigenous cultures, such as Native American culture (Anderson & Campbell 2009).

If there are enough instruments place students in small groups assign each group a different set of instruments and allow students to have some time creating rhythms. Next, allow each group to play their rhythm composition and discussed or explore the compositions as a group.

The following is a description of the method of use, the sound and cultural context of a variety of popular, and developmentally appropriate musical instruments for children aged between 3-10 years of age:


At the end of the lesson debrief and reflect with the children on their experience and what they learned. Discuss:

  • What is an analog instrument?
  • Favorite instruments and why?
  • Which instruments produced a loud or soft sound?
  • How did you play (a particular instrument)?
  • How are these instruments different from digital instruments that you will explore in the next part of this lesson?

A cleared space indoors
Musical instruments such as xylophone, tambourine, drums, maracas, rhythm sticks etc.

The student will be able to:

  • Place their instruments in resting positions when not directed to play and pass it along when done exploring the instrument.
  • Engage in the activity and participates in exploring sound?
  • Use the instrument appropriately as demonstrated but create their own interpretation in creative play?
    Able to produce different rhythms?
  • Can name the country of origin representing their instrument?

After completing this lesson go on the complete Lesson 2 on Digital Instruments.

Extension Activity:

Ask children to pick their favorite instrument and create their own rhythm patterns. Play and teach children songs or rhythms from different countries, including exposure to different languages.

Introduce the origins of musical genres and unique rhythms like:

Look at the categories in the search tools at the top of the page for other countries to explore. Consider the background of children in your classroom as you choose countries to study.

Links to framework: (VEYLDF 2009).

Outcome 1: Identity- Respond to ideas and suggestions from others. Increasingly cooperate and work collaboratively with others.

Outcome 2: Community- Cooperate with others and negotiate roles and relationships in play episodes and group experiences. Broaden their understanding of the world in which they live.

Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of well-being- Manipulate equipment and manage tools (instruments) with increasing competence and skill.

Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners- Manipulate objects and experiment with cause and effect, trial and error, and motion.

Outcome 5: Use the creative arts such as music to express ideas and make meaning. Experiment with ways of expressing ideas and meaning using a range of media.

(Resource Credit: Excerpted from Grenoble Studio of Musical Arts).

About David Grandison Jr.

Music Origins Project is curated by David Grandison Jr. This site aims to remove the chronological and geographic barriers faced by music aficionados, students and travelers seeking to learn about the origins of the various musical genre while providing a platform for young writers and content creators to be published so that their voices can be heard.