Messy Music Time


Music is innately motivating and engaging for children. It teaches gross and fine motor skills, listening skills, turn taking, social skills and helps with brain development. This activity is a hands-on music making experience that gives children the opportunity to discover the different sounds instruments make and encourages them to explore their singing voice. Improvisation is a style of playing that allows freedom of playing, which at times can sound ‘messy’. This encourages listening to others, sense of self-expression and a group instrument playing experience.

What you need?

  • A variety of different size drums
  • Hand-held percussion instruments
  • 1 large play mat
  • Cushions to create a warm and inviting space


1. Begin singing and playing familiar song/s.

2. To make up a song together, signal to the group to start playing their instruments however they want to. This ‘made up’ song is known as improvisation.

3. Signal when to stop playing.

4. Try doing the ‘Start/Stop’ game. Older children can participate in taking turns as the ‘conductor’ to instruct the group when to start and stop playing.

Extension of the activity

  • What different sounds do different instruments make?
  • What happens when different groups of instruments take turns?
  • Try playing loud, soft, fast and slow and have the conductor try these different types of playing. When feeling more confident groups could try doing an improvisation with their singing voices.


Note: Beginning with familiar songs builds confidence. As confidence builds begin to try a ‘Messy Music’ improvisation to further explore the range of sounds you can make.