How to Teach Students to Play Barred Instruments

Are you ready for your kids to have an Orff experience and play instruments but don’t know how to begin? Learn techniques that give kids instant success playing barred instruments in your music classroom. Using clear terminology and introducing techniques as you play, students will be creating and improvising almost immediately.

The below video details techniques I found worked very well in my teaching. You may find tips that you can apply or modify for your students.

Below are the points I made in the video.

Getting Started

-I turn my instrument so that my low end and their low end are the same direction in the room.
-I use room references (window wall, door wall) instead of left and right.
-Echo speak in 4-beat phrases.
-Explore the low and high sides of the instrument.
-Use terms such as long/low/big and short/high/little
-Use the note name C and also introduce the octave C in the middle
-Use one hand or both hands randomly. Let students do what is natural for them.
-Begin to combine echo patterns that use both high/low/middle references.

Stepwise movement using letter names.

-Reminders not to PLAY on the letter names if they are located on the end of the bar.

Review of Essential Agreement to PLAY BEAUTIFULLY.

Playing Technique

-Not a baseball wind-up but a good basketball dribble.
-A nice low bounce that lets the bar ring.

Fuzzy Wuzzy-one hand at a time, then try with two.

-Play in different directions.
-Play in pentatonic
-Improvise or take time for them to create a way to play.
-Easy to switch partners if you don’t have a 1-to-1 instrument situation


-Form: woods, metals, tutti or soprano, alto, tutti or solo, tutti, solo, tutti

Do a round-robin

-every student improvises, one after the other. T can play a broken bordun to accompany.

    Author: lbbartolomeo

    I'm a mom, wife, teacher, reader, gardener, trekkie, sci-fi fanatic, musician, dog lover, and a Christian. I hope my contributions bring some joy and happiness to your life!

    Leave a Reply