“Eights” Mallet Exercise For Upper Elementary

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Eights is a four mallet exercise that I originally learned from my percussion teacher Bruce McConnell in 2003. I played it all through high school and college to warm up my hands at the start of practice sessions, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized how perfectly it could be adapted to Orff instruments in the elementary music classroom. By splitting up the hands into two different sections (played by two different groups of kids) I realized that the same piece was developmentally appropriate for upper elementary/middle school, and it allowed my students to practice good technique while also playing together in time. This 270 slide PowerPoint presentation serves as a visual representation showing how the piece is played. By quickly scrolling through the slides, you can easily walk your students through the more difficult Part 1 and the more simple Part 2, lighting up in red the notes on a xylophone as you go. The upbeat tempo, the added drum set, and the complexity of playing two parts at the same time made Eights an instant hit for my students, and it has since become a class favorite. I hope your students respond the same way!

Follow this link for a video example:

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