When planning your classroom layout, you should consider how you will store your instruments for student use. Here I will outline some ways I store my instruments and make them accessible to my students to aid in their independence.
Small percussion can sometimes be the worst to organize and keep neat throughout the school year, but I have found that keeping them in containers with lids is the best way to go.
When I put the instrument containers on my shelves, I consider the age of the students using them. I put the instruments that will be used by kindergarten most frequently lower to the ground and the instruments used by older students a bit higher on the shelf. As the year progresses, the kindergarten students will learn to get instruments off the shelf and put them away when they’re done independently.
In my classroom, I have various sizes of tubano drums, a few djembes, two pairs of bongo drums, a conga, and several hand drums. I organize the larger drums together and place the hand drums on the shelf with the other small percussion. I have a table in my classroom where I can put the larger drums on top of them and keep them off the floor. This isn’t the ideal location; however, it keeps the floor free for movement space.
Last year I used this table to store my drums.
I’m going to try this location this year (2022)
Orff Instruments and Mallets
I am fortunate to have 12 barred instruments and a menagerie of mallets in my classroom. I keep my barred instruments out all the time and use them almost every lesson. In past years I have kept the instruments in the back of my room behind the carpets my students sit on. This year I may put them off to the side of my classroom, but the only concern is that the students won’t be able to see the screen as easily. I keep the mallets on top of the instrument, ready to go. I keep all the extra mallets I use for my percussion ensemble in these small buckets I got from the Dollar Tree several years ago, and the buckets are labeled with pictures so that students know where to return them.
For several years, I have kept my ukuleles in their boxes. I have Makala brand ukuleles in my room, and they came in these nice cardboard boxes that I numbered to match my student’s numbers. The boxes are starting to age and still look pretty good, but I’m thinking this year I will hang my ukuleles using Command hooks and the storage bags that came with the ukulele. I may use my Cricut to label the bags with their numbers. If I do this, I’ll be sure to update the blog with a photo of the finished product.
Update: I decided to leave them in their boxes. The wall just wasn’t going to work. I will add a photo to the blog when I bring them out.
Instruments for Teacher Use Only
I have several instruments for only my use, including my piano, ukuleles, and various percussion instruments. I keep these instruments close to where I mostly stand in my classroom and on a separate instrument cart that the children know is for teacher use. I only let students I know take piano lessons to play on my piano as I tell them that it is a tool for teaching and not one that I have enough to share or teach them all to play.
I suggest labeling everything with pictures and words so students can return the instruments to the proper containers. I even have the labels on the shelves where the boxes belong so that my student leaders can help clean up the classroom after we finish the lesson. You can make labels as creative or simple as you would like, but make sure you label everything!
Here are some labels I’ve used:
As always –
Sing! Say! Dance! Play! Care!