An Introduction to Body Percussion

Intro to Body Percussion

Percussion instruments make a sound by being struck, rubbed, shaken, plucked or scraped (Encyclopedia Britannica). They are mainly used to create or emphasise a rhythm or beat. 

Did you know your own body is a percussion instrument and can be played too? In fact, the human body is the only instrument we can all play whenever we want!  

This learning block introduces you to what body percussion looks and sounds like and encourages you to get clapping, stomping, snapping and patting to make your own unique sounds.

There are two videos to choose from to learn about body percussion.

The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!

You may see a number of other videos that are a deeper dive into things you might be interested in. Feel free to watch as many of those as you like. Then choose some activities and/or a project. 

High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with the advanced learning project in the Projects section. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to test your understanding by taking the quiz.

Take A Deeper Dive!

Examples Of Body Percussion and Other forms of Body Music From The Around the World…


Let’s Jam!

Join in with this simple introduction to body percussion! Get comfortable with making sounds with your own body by learning to make sounds on your legs, knees, chest, and head, all by patting them with your own hands.

Create a guide to the basic moves you have learnt by drawing or writing the parts of the body you hit in which order and how many times. Give your guide to someone else to see if they can follow it. Include your guide in your portfolio.

On Your Feet!

Now you have learnt some basic ways to make sounds, it’s time to learn some more moves, so on your feet for this one as you combine movement with body sounds.

When you can do the routine, see if you can show a friend, sibling or grown-up how to do it and then see if you can invent a sequence of your own. Make a video of all your new moves to include in your portfolio!

Ghanaian Body Percussion

This activity adds some more moves into the mix and a longer routine. There are three people showing you how to do this routine. See if you can get two friends to learn this with you. Maybe you could impress them with the moves learnt in the previous activity?! 

When you’ve practiced, get someone to video you and include it in your portfolio.

Add Your Own Body Beat To Your Favourite Songs

Choose a song or piece of music that you like and add your own body percussion. Accompany the music with any of the moves you have learnt so far. Use the videos below for inspiration! 

When you’ve chosen your song, perform it to someone and have them video you. Remember to include your amazing body percussion techniques for posterity…and your portfolio!


Be Your Own Body Percussion Composer!

Body percussion uses four main sounds:

  1. Stomping – this is where one or both feet are stomped on the ground
  2. Patting – usually patting the thighs with the hands
  3. Clapping the hands together
  4. Snapping the fingers

And…there are so many other ways to make a sound with your body. 

Who needs a great composer like Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, Florence Price  or Tan Dun. In this activity YOU get to be your own composer! 

Get inspired by the whole orchestra of body percussionists in the video above. Then experiment with different ways YOU can come up with to make sounds on and with your body. Try different body parts and different ways to create a sound.

See how you can alter the pitch or resonance of the sounds you make by changing your technique.

Make a vlog collage of all the different ways you can make sounds with your body, the more unusual the better!

Remember to include your vlog in your portfolio and share any interesting sounds with us here at Omnis in the Global Learning Village. We’d love to hear them.

Advanced Project

 Round The World In Body Percussion

All around the globe different cultures have used the human body as a percussion instrument. Watch the video above and the ones below to explore some of these. Then choose one to practice and learn more about. Create a powerpoint or google slides presentation  of all that you discover! 

Ethiopian armpit music: Used as a courting ritual and for entertainment.

Inuit throat singing: A traditional form of musical expression among Inuit communities of women, where it is often used as a lullaby for their babies.

Hambone: Was created by enslaved Africans when they were forbidden to use drums.  

Balinese Kecak or cak:  Often called the monkey chant as it is performed theatrically depicting the rescue of princess Sita by an army or monkeys.

Be sure to check out the block on beat boxing to see other ways the mouth and voice are used in body percussion!

Can you find any others? Remember to include your presentation in your portfolio.


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