Resource Review and Activities – Musical Futures Chair Drumming

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Chair drumming workshop at Music China, Shanghai, October 2019

About the resource

Musical Futures International and Musical Futures UK both offer resources for chair drumming. This review focusses on the version that delegates are given for free when they attend a Musical Futures International workshop. However, I hope that something in this article is relevant regardless of which version of the resource you are using.

This unit is from Just Play a whole class approach to instrumental learning. Consisting of audio/visual resources and play alongs that support whole class instrumental performing, composing and improvising, Just Play encourages the development of holistic musical skills through playing and creating music as a whole class band. Click to read more…

I am proud to have been one of the original developers of the Just Play resources and training program and this review has a focus on how I have adapted the resources for use with my primary classes during remote learning. Click to read my reflections on home learning and remote teaching

I chose to use this resource with my Y5 classes (although it’s a great resource for use with students of any age) in conjunction with other resources that are free and open-access. I also simplified it with the help of ‘Cartoon Mrs G’ to supplement some of the activities we did in one of our weekly year 3 live music lessons.

My objectives were for students:

  • to be able to play kick and snare in time with music heard
  • to be able to interpret and follow simple rhythmic grid notation
  • to be able to hear and maintain a pulse
  • to recognise different rhythms in the music they heard

What’s in the resource?

This resource consists of videos that scaffold students from beatboxing through lap drumming to being able to drum along with real songs using a chair as a drum kit. This makes it ideal for home learning and social distanced learning in classrooms as it doesn’t require access to a musical instrument and videos can be played from a mobile device or via a shared screen as students play along at home. 


  • Video: Beatboxing intro
  • Video: Rock beat lap drumming
  • Video: Rock beat overhead
  • Video: Chair Drumming 101 play along – includes how to set your chair up as a drum kit, some practice beats and songs to play along to
  • Video: Disco beat, 8 beat, 16 beat lap drumming
  • Video: Disco beat, 8 beat, 16 beat overhead
  • Video: Disco beat, 8 beat, 16 beats drumming demo
  • Video: Chair Drumming 101 play along – includes how to set your chair up as a drum kit, some practice beats and songs to play along to

Tips for online learning using Musical Futures Resources

  • Extract the video/audio files from the full powerpoint and share with students using the online platform that your schools uses
  • Try to set students tasks that don’t require instruments at home. You might encourage them to build their own drum kits from household items using chopsticks as drumsticks
  • If your school and online platform allows, try to encourage students to share a video, photo or recording of their work each week so that you can assess engagement and suitability of tasks and to support assessment

Using this resource for online learning

It’s important to note that there is a huge difference in how much content is needed for an online lesson – far less than when we teach classes face to face. Some of the activities below may take much longer than one online lesson to achieve success!

As lesson starters or music to play as students join the online lesson – watch various performances on drums or listen to related music.

Please note that some of these videos may not be available on the Musical Futures UK version of the resource. However you can replace them with the suggested related resources, all of which build on the core skills needed to achieve the learning objectives

LessonActivityLink to related resources
1BeatboxingShlomo beatboxing tutorials
Little Kids Rock Hip Hop resources
Beatboxing Basics from Rob’s Kitchen Music Lessons
2Lap drumming and body percussion (1)Beat Goes On free online tutorials
For younger children Musication Percussion Playalongs (YouTube)
Pen Drumming from Rob’s Kitchen Music
3Chair drumming play along (1)You can chair drum with any song or online tutorial – freely available on YouTube! Here’s a video of students at Shrewsbury International School getting creative with socially distance chair drumming
4Lap drumming and body percussion (2)Cool4School rhythm warm ups are great for younger children
Check out Rob’s Kitchen Music Lessons channel on YouTube for some fantastic ideas
5Chair drumming play along (2)You can chair drum with any song or online tutorial – freely available on YouTube!
6Review and reflectMake this as interactive as possible using the platform allowed by the school. You might consider a google form or online quiz to get more detailed answers from individual students

Next steps:

Consider a Junk percussion project. Check out:

  1.  The Found Drum Challenge from Little Kids Rock
  2. Junk drumset from Little Kids Rock
  3. Various activities linked to music from around the world at Rob’s Kitchen Music
  4. Heaps of ideas and online workshops for STOMP style body percussion from Beat Goes On UK

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