How many parents would be overjoyed to hear that their child wants to play percussion - what images spring to mind?
If you thought ‘drums’, ‘loud’ and then ‘oh no!’ - you are not alone. 
Ruby aged 7 sitting at the drum kit (original file photo)
The drum kit or drum set is only one instrument in the vast range of percussion instruments. Unfortunately, many parents assume that the drum kit is the only percussion instrument. Some tutors only teach drum kit because they either do not want to teach classical and tuned percussion or are unable to.

If your child wishes to learn percussion for their school concert band it is important to ensure that their prospective tutor can teach all available instruments. If they cannot then as a parent paying good money for tuition - you are not getting your money’s worth.

Percussion instruments are defined as musical instruments that are struck, shaken or vibrated to produce a sound.

The main categories that percussion instruments are further classified into include membranophones, idiophones, and aerophones.
Indian Tabla drums are membranophones (original file photo)
Membranophones create sounds when the skin stretched across its body is struck. Examples of membranophones include the drum kit, timpani, marching drums, bongos and congas. Membranophones appear across many cultures and include taiko (Japan) and tabla (Indian) drums.

Idiophones create a sound by the vibration of its body when struck, shaken, rubbed, or plucked (Girsberger, 1998). Examples of idiophones include cymbals, glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba, castanets, scrapers, and the African instrument called mbira.
The marimba is an idiophone (original file photo)
Aerophones create a sound when air is blown through them or across their opening, causing air to vibrate and produce a sound (Girsberger, 1998; Beck, 1995). Examples of percussion aerophone instruments include whistles and bull roarers.

Throughout this site there will be a mix of information which addresses popular and well-known percussion instruments such as the drum kit, in addition to more classically oriented information regarding correct techniques. Information about percussionists and drummers will also be displayed for inspirational and learning purposes.

To learn more about percussion instruments visit “A Guide to Concert Band Percussion for Children” which explains what the main instruments are and how to play them correctly.

Here is a video of the Northern Sydney Youth Orchestra Wind Band playing "Pilatus" by Alfred Reed at the 2010 NSW State Band Championships. Percussion instruments peak at a few places including from about 3:30 onwards.

Please leave a comment if you would like to learn specific information about instruments, techniques, compositions, performers, or any other aspect of percussion.

Enjoy your journey :)


Beck, J. H. (1995). Encyclopedia of Percussion. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. 

Gale, B. (2010). Classifying Percussion Instruments. Retrieved October 3, 2010 from

Girsberger, R. (1998). A Practical Guide to Percussion Terminology, Fort Lauderdale: Meredith Music Publishing Company.

Instruments (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2010 from

Schmidt-Jones, C. (2004). Classifying musical instruments. Retrieved September 12, 2010 from 

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