My Favorite Rhythm Instruments


When you think of rhythm instruments, you might think of drums. But really, there's an array of instruments that fit this category that can add dynamic sound to your jams at home. Rhythm instruments are great because there's usually almost no learning curve, making them easy ways to get friends and family members of any age to start making music with you. One can pick up an egg shaker or pair of rhythm sticks and start making music instantly! 

All of the instruments I'm recommending come from years of being tested in my own home. They've held up to years of use (and abuse) and still sound great! 




Tambourines are an easy way to tempt a friend into making music with you! I recommend buying a "real" one versus a kids' version. The sound will be much fuller and that alone will make it more fun to play. And if it's too big for your child's hand, don't let that stop them from playing! Set it on the floor and have them bang on it as if it was a drum!    


Egg Shakers

Egg shakers make a great gift for babies and toddlers, but they're equally fun for adults to shake! These shakers are a great size for tiny hands, and they make a surprisingly nice sound. I usually pack a few on family road trips so we can all rock out as we cruise down the highway. 


Jingle Bell Bracelets

These jingle bells are perfect for when you're singing holiday songs at home. They can be worn as bracelets or simply held in the hand to add a fun rhythmic element to your singalong at home.  


Floor Drum

Babies and toddlers have a great time banging on this durable drum, and it's a little easier to stomach one (relatively small) floor drum than a full drum kit! It includes two soft-head mallets for playing, but it's just as fun to tap out rhythms with your hands. 


Resonator Bells

These individual xylophone keys are fun to play all at once, sure, especially if you like to tap out melodies. But if you want your companion to sound in tune with your ukulele, give them just the 1 and 5 tones for whatever key you're playing in. For instance, if you're playing in the key of C, have them bang on the C and G bells; if you're playing in the key of G, give them the G and D notes to play.  

Baby-proofing note: the black tips of the little mallets have repeatedly fallen off of our sticks, so please be careful if you have a child who likes to mouth objects. 


Don't Forget About Hand-Me-Downs 

When you're just starting out on the ukulele, I recommend you kickoff your ukulele adventure with a cheap starter uke. In large part, this is because I want you to have a ukulele you can hand down to your children, use when you're traveling, or just to keep for jam sessions with loved ones. It's always great to have an extra uke available so you can share what you've learned with a friend!

Why I Advise Against Buying Instruments in Sets

A set like the Melissa and Doug Band in the Box is a fine shortcut to building your at-home instrument collection, and if you already have one, great! Play with what you have! But in general, I recommend buying instruments individually so that you'll have more control over your instruments as well as higher quality materials and better quality sound. 

Ready to Jam?

Once you've assembled a few instruments, you'll need to find a good place to keep them! I recommend stashing them in a basket or bin in your living room or whichever room you're most likely to hang out in. When your rhythm instruments and ukulele are nearby and easy to pick up, it makes it that much easier to host impromptu jam sessions! And that's kind of the point of all this, isn't it? :)