Body percussion - the art of using the human body to make sounds

What is body percussion?

The human body is the instrument! Body percussion is a brilliant way to warm up and a useful tool for creating music in a group. It is incredibly accessible as the human body is your instrument that every participant possesses. It is also valuable for internalising fundamental musical concepts including rhythm, beat and tempo. Percussion sounds are produced when a player hits, scrapes, rubs or shakes an instrument to produce vibrations. The same techniques can be applied to the human body. Additionally, the body has other unique possibilities including the use of inhaled or exhaled air and vocal sounds. Our Group Rhythm Participation is meditative and mindful, provides a safe space for communion, elicits the natural state of presence and brings forth an experience of Unity and Joy.

What should I expect? 

Traditionally the four main body percussion sounds (in order from lowest pitch to highest in pitch) are: stomp (stamping), patsch (patting the thighs with hands), clapping, clicking. There are many other possibilities such as: hitting the chest, whistling, slapping or flicking the cheeks with an open mouth, clicking with the tongue against the roof of the mouth, grunting and hitting the buttocks. Variations of sound are possible through changing the playing technique. For example, clapping the hands in various positions will affect factors such as pitch and resonance.

Why use body percussion?

  • It is accessible
  • It is inexpensive
  • It is a form of creative expression
  • It can be performed on its own, with others or with a musical accompainment
  • Rhythm Regulates the Brain
  • Focuses attention with short 5 - 20 min lessons
  • Taps into the Power of Presence
  • Improves Concentration
  • Releases Stress
  • Helps Improve Social Skills
  • Develops Community
  • Provides a Safe Space for Creative Expression
  • Its a whole lot of FUN

Body percussion has been around for a long time, having some of its roots in Ancient Africa - 'Close to the African heart, The Gumboot is essentially the music of Africa, involving the use of the gumboots as a drum kit. Originally performed in the diamond mines of South Africa, black diamond mine workers were not allowed to talk, so they stomped their gumboots as a form of enjoyment and communication. This form of music later evolved into a dance form which honored their struggles.' (Courtesy of hubpages)

keith terry

Keith Terry has been doing body percussion for a number of years, have first learned drums - he believes in internalizing the rhythm and then letting it out - click on the image above to see a video of his amazing performance.

How can it be used in the classroom setting?

Sometimes, lessons need to start with an energiser. Last lesson of a rainy day? Start with an energiser. A sleepy class after a school trip? Start with an energiser. It wakes everyone up and gets the children ready to learn.

'A great option is to combine body percussion with call and response. Try clapping and stomping a rhythm to your class and getting them to copy it back to you. Be fussy about the pupils being accurate with the rhythm and keeping a steady pulse. This will focus their minds on accuracy and wake them up!' (The Beat goes On). Check out some of our InRhythm classroom rhythm games HERE. To see body percussion with the accompainment of some InRhythm drumming with Year 12 students - check out this amazing video.

What is the science behind it, what are the theraputic benefits of body percussion?

'Practising body percussion brings about improvements in three areas: the Physical, as it stimulates awareness of the body, control of movement and muscular strength, coordination and balance; the Mental, as it improves concentration, memory and perception; and finally Socio-affective, as it helps to build egalitarian relationships and leads to a decrease in anxiety in social interactions. With rhythm at its core, the various different types of interaction and physical contact needed to perform many of the exercises mean that body percussion can become a therapeutic tool of great importance. It is important to remember the impact and stimulation that are produced in various cortical and subcortical areas on both hemispheres of the brain due to the interaction between the different elements...' Read more of this scientific research HERE

InRhythm provides body percussion training and facilitator training (drumming and body percussion facilitation are subject covered in the course). Body percussion course is delivered online with a 30 day money back guarantee! Click here to find out more.


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