Top 5 Best Musical Instruments For Primary Schools

Here’s a list of 5 of the best musical instruments for primary schools we have found!

We all remember when it was time to have a music lesson in primary school. The class teacher would wheel in a trolley filled with percussion instruments, tambourines, glockenspiels, egg shakers, the lot! And then all the teachers would plug their ears and pray the next hour passed quickly! Back in my day, there were limits to how many musical instruments for primary schools could be obtained!

But nowadays what other instruments could we be incorporating into our classroom to give children a well rounded music education that doesn’t rely solely on percussion?


The ukulele has become increasingly popular amongst schools wanting to enhance their music lessons and branch out with more affordable and smaller instruments. Due to the size of the ukulele being significantly smaller than a guitar, it becomes the ideal starter instrument for primary aged children to try! (it’s size also helps when storage space is limited!)

Ukuleles can be affordable depending on your school’s budget, especially when buying in bulk – so why not give it a go and start a Ukulele club in your school. Not a confident ukulele player? Don’t panic, here you can arrange to have specialist one-to-one training on how to run a ukulele club in your school.


A Boomwhacker is a lightweight, hollow, colour-coded, plastic tube, tuned to a musical pitch by length. Boomwhackers are used as musical instruments in the percussion family. Boomwhackers produce musical tones when struck together, on the floor, or against nearly any surface…. which is A LOT of fun for primary aged children….or just anyone, who doesn’t like hitting stuff?! Boomwhackers are a great tool for melodic composition in primary music because students can use the color-coding of the notes to add pitch to rhythms. 


The recorder is the staple instrument in the primary school classroom, with a long and actually quite interesting history if you actually looked into its origins! As a member of the woodwind family the recorder provides a simple solution to teaching woodwind by not needing a reed to play it. The recorder is immensely popular already in primary schools as it is easy to create sound, but requires hand coordination to produce the correct notes, definitely a great challenge for children to master! If you’re looking to introduce woodwind into your music lessons, the recorder is a definite must, and you’ll have no difficulty finding somewhere to buy them in bulk.


The keyboard is simply an electric piano that can be reduced in size and produce a large variety of sounds. The keyboard may not be the cheapest instrument to purchase when you’re buying in bulk, but it can be the most diverse instrument children can learn on. 

With most keyboards having a large variety of sounds and settings available, this gives children a wider range to work with when composing. It’s a fantastic way of introducing children to new electronic sounds, and exploring a variety of pitches all from the press of a button! The keyboard is very portable, easily to set up and easy to use – win win!   


The xylophone is a member of the percussion family that consists of wooden bars being struck  by mallets. However when struck the bars produce a tuned note, therefore you can produce a distinct melody using sequence or pattern of hits and bars. 

The xylophone is another great option for trying to get children to use both hands in coordination when playing an instrument, and many small xylophones are colour coded which supports children who struggle remembering which bar equates to which note. The only downside to the xylophone is the more notes you’d like, the larger the instrument and also the larger the cost. However if you’re wanting some that could work for early years/KS1 with just a small amount of notes, the xylophone is a great shout!

There are approximately over 1500 musical instruments across the world, and we are not at all suggesting only stick to these 5! Why not take on some world music instruments, like a Sitar? Or castanets? And include these in your lessons when covering music from across the world? The possibilities and opportunities are endless! But if you are working to a strictly tight budget, these musical instruments for primary schools are a fantastic starting point to upgrade your music classroom. 

Exposing children to as much music as possible from a young age will have only positive effects on their development, both physically and emotionally. 

If you are a primary educator and want to learn more about teaching music for primary schools, why not check out our CPD courses? Join the Academy by clicking here, or heading to CPD UK accredits our courses to ensure we provide the highest quality materials to reform your music lessons. For more information, email or give us a call on 0800 7565580.

Author avatar
Corinne Hope
Fully dedicated to improving primary music education for all.

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